Anti-German World War I Propaganda Poster

WW I

This is an anti-German propaganda poster encouraging men to enlist in the armed forces. Germans and  the German Empire are represented as a violent barbaric ape carry a club that says culture.  Normally, when a nation goes to war they demonize and dehumanize the people they are fighting. The poster  was attempting to present the idea that Germany was out to conquer the world. France and the British Empire had more colonies compared to the German Empire. When seen from that perspective, the idea of German world domination was an exaggeration. World War I was triggered by Austria-Hungary’s military action against Serbia. The conflicts in the Balkans ignited one of the bloodiest wars in the 20th century.   The propaganda poster is not only designed to instill the idea that the Germans are barbaric animals, but fear. The ape that represents a German wearing a picklehaube  is the destroyer of civilization and menace. There are also sexist overtones with the woman the ape has in its arms. The notion that the other or different ethnic groups will rape or  enslave the women has been a common trope for xenophobic agitation. Women were presented in World War I propaganda as helpless damsels in distress at the mercy of vicious Germans. Presenting women as property that was being stolen was a means of getting men to enlist. The point of the propaganda material is not to have the viewer to reason, rather generate an emotion. Simple phrases such as “destroy the mad brute”  were created to form certain narrative. Germany was the manifestation of all  evil and it was completely culpable for the war. The truth was all European powers were to blame, but propaganda distorted the political reality.

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