Welcome to war-images.com, (the art of propaganda - pictures to persuade )

caricatures - drawings - cartoons - photographs - photomontages - fantasies


Words can be compelling but pictures are instantly appealing and can often more easily attract and hold the attention of the target reader. A leaflet with an interesting image will be more likely to be picked up by an enemy soldier or civilian than one with a few paragraphs of text. The image itself may contain the propaganda message or may simply be the bait to tease the leaflet into the hands of the reader so that the accompanying words can start to work their poisonous intent. For example, a leaflet depicting a pin-up or sex scene or resembling a currency note, can be hard to ignore.

An astonishing and inventive variety of imagery of can be found on air disseminated leaflets, postcards, pamphlets and booklets, and some of the most talented cartoonists and artists of their day have been called up to produce them. Names include Osbert Lancaster, Kem (K. E. Marengo), Feliks Topolski, Walter (Goetz), (David) Low, Ronald Searle, and Tony Strobl.

Many of the most striking images were reproduced on leaflets showered on the battlefield soldier and many themes were used. Amongst them are portrayals of the invincibility of the forces facing him, the mutilation and death that was to be his fate, and scenes contrived to drive a wedge between him and his comrades, officers and political leaders. In summary it was a pinprick campaign to wear away his morale and reduce his willingness to fight, and even make him contemplate surrender.

Images were incorporated into leaflets produced for civilians - in modern parlance to "win hearts and minds". For enemy civilians the intention was to turn them against their governments and allies, paint a pessimistic picture of future prospects and depress their appetite for war. For occupied civilians, who were also targeted by the propagandists, the aim was to sustain their morale, eg by supplying them with encouraging information about the progress of the war, and urge resistance.

The images in our <image collection> demonstrate all the propaganda themes described above and more.