Propaganda is a form of communication that promotes a particular perspective or agenda by using text and images to provoke an emotional response and influence behaviour.
Can you think of some modern examples of propaganda?
1. During the First World War, propaganda was used around the world for fundraising, to build hatred of the enemy, and to encourage enlistment. Posters were an ideal method of communicating this propaganda, as they could be printed and distributed quickly in large quantities.
Here are two examples of Australian propaganda posters, which aimed to encourage enlistment by promoting a sense of comradery and duty:
a. What messages are the posters presenting?
b. Who are those posters targeting? Who are they not targeting, and why?
c.What do these posters tell us about how the typical Australian man was percieved during the early 1900s?
2. The following propaganda posters also encouraged enlistment, but did this by building fear of the enemy.
a. How is the enemy depicted, and what message is being presented?
b. How does the artist use text and images to convey this message?
c. What mood is being created?
d. What design elements (colour, typography, shape, space, and scale) have contributed to the mood of this poster?
e. Do you think the artist has been successful in getting their messages across? Why or why not?
f. How do you think these posters might have made Australians with German heritage feel?
3. Below are German propaganda posters that also focus on the notion of the enemy.
b. Compare and contrast these three German posters, to the three Australian posters that also focus on the enemy. Identify similarities and differences relating to message, tone, and the representation of the opposing side. Which posters do you think have the greatest impact? Why?
4. Design your own First World War propaganda poster. You might like to consider:
a. Will you use an Australian, British, German, French or other perspective?
b. What are you trying to get the viewer to think or feel?
c. Will your message be positive or negative?
d. What colours, font, size, and style will you use to get your message across?
For more images and activities relating to propaganda posters from the First and Second World Wars, view the Hearts and Minds education kit.