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German World War I Propaganda Posters


Everyone loves American propaganda posters from World War I. Like this one:


In fact, a selection of these posters are currently on display at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which I will be seeing before it closes.

But what about German World War I propaganda posters? Well, they are pretty interesting:


This is a plea for rabbit skins to be sent to the military.

Or this one urging the killing of seals for train oil:


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  • djw

    Have you ever spent time in the propaganda poster/print shop in the lower level of the Pike Place Market? These are all there, and thousands of others. Lots of great Soviet stuff. If I were decorating a house, that’d be the first place I’d go.

    • wjts

      I used to have this one in my dining room, but it got lost in a move a while back.

    • Wow. I need to go there.

    • Warren Terra

      I mostly remember the parody cheesecake comic-book cover posters about WPPSS, the incredibly aptronymed entity in charge of Hanford.

    • GoDeep

      So long as the pictures of rabbits and baby seals weren’t in the dining room you’d prolly be ok too…

  • Barry Freed

    There’s an excellent WWI exhibit of propaganda posters and related material at the New York Public Library:


  • “Gee, I wish I were a rabbit.”

    [Translated from the German.]

    • SV

      “Gee, I wish I were living in a less sexist country. I’d join the Navy!”

      • steverinoCT

        It was 1917, after all. Times have changed, no?

        I like this particular poster because the rating is Quartermaster First Class (which in the Navy, of course, is navigation, not supply), which was my rate/rank when I got out. Plus, the rating badge is on the right sleeve; QM is one of the four “right-arm” rates, due to being the oldest in the Navy: QM, cook, Gunner’s Mate, and Boatswain’s Mate. That tradition has been retired.

        I live yet in Groton CT, home of the New London (!) submarine base, and so see a lot of sailors. I will spare you a rant on the current uniforms– they don’t look like sailors!– but at least the dress blues, the “crackerjacks”, haven’t changed; they are still (after a post-Vietnam intermission) very much like the poster. And at least our uniforms aren’t as bad as the Coasties, whose academy is across the river.

        Shameless promotion: http://www.qmss.com

  • prufrock

    The rabbit one reminds me of the demon sheep ad.

    • The Dark Avenger

      The color pallet was limited to shades of green and red. How German to use it for a rabbit, and give it a patch looking kind like a leaf on the nose as well.

      • Warren Terra

        I’m actually a bit surprised by the number of colors; each additional color increases the cost, right?

        As to the selection of colors … well, it’s striking, if not to my taste.

        • The Dark Avenger

          The striking aspect is a feature, because in wartimes civilians get less involved in the world around them as a defense mechanism. To break through that, the poster has to catch the eye in an involuntary way. Red catches the eye, and shades of green bring a little variety to it as well. This is a different challenge than, say, selling shaving soap in peacetime

          The more colors, the harder to get a balance and remain striking at the same time.

          That’s why Halloween posters are a graphic designers dream: How can you go wrong with orange and black?

          • Warren Terra

            That’s why Halloween posters are a graphic designers dream: How can you go wrong with orange and black?

            A question that is comprehensively answered every year, with an appalling thoroughness.

          • How can you go wrong with orange and black?

            You’ve never met a Princeton alum, have you.

    • Origami Isopod

      It reminds me of Watership Down.

      • joe from Lowell

        The 70s cartoon version where Woundwort had the blank eyes.


        • Origami Isopod

          Yes, precisely what I was thinking of.

    • I think it’s of Bunnicula: http://www.amazon.com/Bunnicula-Rabit-tale-Mystery-GREAT-SOURCE/dp/1416928170 (the link is to the scary version).

  • I was at the WWI Museum in Kansas City today.

    The French posters were as artistic as you would expect:


    • John Revolta

      Hey Major! How long ya in town for? Because you’re obviously our good luck charm………

      why don’t you just stick around until we win the Series?

      • Sadly I’m off to Indianapolis this morning. Hopefully after that line of thunderstorms has moved off of KMCI.

        I rarely get to stay somewhere longer than 16 hours or so.

        • John Revolta

          Hey, no problem! Now, should we happen to get our butts kicked by LA, at least we’ll know who to blame……………………………

  • Fats Durston

    Perhaps my favorite.

    Or maybe this (read in Simpsons teen breaking voice).

  • jlp858

    That seal seems to have some well-placed misgivings about why you’re looking at it so hard.

  • sam

    I have an original of Frederick Siebel’s someone talked hanging in my office.

    People always think it’s incongruous, because I present as a somewhat sunny personality, to have a picture of a man drowning ing on my wall, but then i tell them how I acquired it.

    My father’s first job when he got out of FIT (not graduated, just ended his time there) was working for Fritz Siebel as a peon in the art department. Over the course of his time working for Fritz, they started doing work for Seagrams, where my dad had an “encounter” with Edgar Bronfman Sr. that my dad was sure was going to result in his firing and instead resulted in my dad getting hired by Seagrams directly. Over the course of 20+ years, my dad worked his way through the corporate ranks and ultimately became Director of Marketing, and he worked with Fritz until Fritz retired (at some point, Fritz’s agency was actually an in-house agency at Seagrams). So the poster was a gift at some point.

    • sam

      Realizing after I hit post that the subject was WWI and not WWII, but I love all of this stuff. War related, advertising related. There was some true artistry involved in the propaganda back in the day, of a sort that you don’t necessarily see anymore.

  • RobNYNY1957

    “Tran” is “blubber” in the poster with the seal. not “train oil.” “Tümmler” is “porpoise” Such fats were important lubricants up to about 1970.

    • rea

      Although why the sailing ships in the background need much in the way of lubricant is a mystery.

      • RobNYNY1957

        Blubber oil was used in transmission and very high tech mechanisms.

      • RobNYNY1957

        I think that the rabbit hides were used for fur but also to make glue.

      • Lee Rudolph

        For the cabin boy?

        • RobNYNY1957

          I think that saliva was probably the preferred lube of most navies.

      • Origami Isopod

        You really did ask this in all seriousness, didn’t you?

        BTW: Obligatory.

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