Comic book Super Heroes in WWII

 

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I am actually not a great fan of Comic books or Graphic Novels as they are called now, although I did read them as a kid but was never really fascinated by them.

However I do like the notion of Super Heroes and I do like them portrayed in the movies.

But in a time when you are not sure if there will be a tomorrow it is important to have something to cling to, albeit fictional and especially youngsters.

WWII was for most people a time of great uncertainty and it was important for many young men and women to be able to escape the daily realities every now and them.Comic books were a great tools to do just that. To dream away and to hope that all would be great again.

And of course the propaganda value was pricesless.

Here are some examples of ‘Comic Book heroes that helped some kids cope with the realities of WWII

Nick Fury

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Before the one-eyed cigar chomper became the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.(played ny Samuel L. Jackson), Nick Fury was waist deep in the trenches of World War II. Fighting alongside Captain America, Bucky, and the Howling Commandos, Sgt. Fury played an instrumental part in defeating the Nazis and their fictional brethren, HYDRA. It was in the war where Fury discovered his leadership skills and the true definition of a selfless hero. With the tools and experiences he gained abroad, Fury acquired the smarts needed to become the Marvel Universe’s top super sleuth.

Captain America

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The cover to Captain America Comics #1 says it all. When America needed a hero to confront the Nazi regime even before World War II began, creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby gave the nation one of its boldest icons. As Captain America, Sgt. Steve Rogers saved the world time and time again from the tyranny of the Third Reich. But even after the war ended, Captain America did not. When the Avengers resuscitated Cap from suspended animation decades later, Rogers continued to fight for the morals and ideals that founded this nation. Sporting the country’s colors proudly across his uniform, Captain America is the true comic book embodiment American patriotism.

Comic Propaganda

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In modern times, comic book superheroes tend to view armed conflict with a healthy dose of skepticism regardless of which side they’re on. But that wasn’t the case during World War II, when costumed do-gooders from Superman all the way down to the lowliest nobody of a crime fighter eagerly signed up to wallop the Axis powers on behalf of Uncle Sam. And hey, if they had to break the law and do a few political incorcect things to get the job done, who were we to question that?

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WWII Propaganda Part 2

Propaganda was and still a very effective tool to win the hearts and minds of the population.Both allies and axis nations used propaganda to recruit and raise funding for the war efforts, and also the political good will of the ordinary citizen.

In this blog I will be looking the Propaganda used by the allies

 

This image depicts a WWW-II-era ad issued during food-rationing days in America. From 1943, the “Fleischmann Yeast Bread Recipe,” promoted by a character known as “War Production Joe,” encourages people to eat bread. There was a time, during January of 1943, when the federal government (via the Food Administrator Claude R Wickard) issued a ban on sliced bread. It was soon abandoned, however, since monetary savings (from not slicing the bread) were negligible.

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During WWII, Americans—like people in other parts of the world—were subject to rationing of items like gasoline and food. Encouraging U.S. citizens to grow—and preserve—their own food, the federal government hired artists—such as Alfred Parker, who created this poster during 1943—to be as self-sufficient as possible.

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Photograph of an American World War II propaganda poster, called “In the Face of Obstacles – Courage,” by Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer / U.S. War Department.

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As depicted in this WWII-era poster, the U.S. federal government urged people to set-aside 10% of their income to buy war bonds. Poster-creators often used the theme of sacrifice—particularly the sacrifice made by war-widows—as a theme for war-bond posters.

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The U.S. government, via the various branches of military service, created many posters to recruit American women during World War II. This image depicts one such poster, intended to influence women to become members of the Womens Army Corps (WACs)

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People in America, the UK and the Soviet Union worked extremely hard to create war assets to use against Hitler and his Nazis. This image depicts a poster, created by the TASS News Agency on or about 26 May 1944, which reflects the cooperation between these WWII Allies. Their mutual objective was to annihilate Hitler and his forces.

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Joe Dope was a fictional cartoon character created by artist Will Eisner. Joe’s purpose was clear, during the WWII era—to remind American military men to avoid doing inapproriate things on and off the job. Image online via the Library of Congress. Click on it for a much-better view.

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During the war, the U.S. government (via “Uncle Sam”) urged Americans to grow gardens whether they lived in the city or in the country. This poster is an example.

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The poster below is a Dutch poster with the text” Get out, Indonesia has to be liberated”

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The 2 posters below were Polish, unfortunately I don’t know what they say, but the pictures are clear enough.

A big worry was that people would unwittingly give information to people who were not suppose the hear the information, a great number of posters would warn for this.

We have all seen the “Keep Calm and …….” Posters,Memes,T-Shirts etc and most of us, me included, would have presumed the origin of this slogan was fairly recent. But in fact it first appeared in 1939, it was rediscovered in 2000.The posters were designed in Spring of 1939 and were aimed to re-assure the British public.There were 2 more posters which had the same lay out one said “Your Courage,Your Cheerfulness.Your Resolution will bring us Victory.” the 3rd one said “Freedom is in Peril, defend it with all your might”

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Nazi Propaganda

I often wonder how the Nazi’s became so powerful because anyone with half a brain would have been able to figure out what their ultimate aim was, especially in a land of scholars and scientists  like Germany.

The one thing you have to give the Nazi’s is they knew how to play the media, their propaganda machine was second to none.

Combine the propaganda with the actually ability of fulfilling the promises of creating jobs and bringing prosperity and you have the most powerful weapon a man can build. And by the time the masses will have found out that the jobs and prosperity are only to serve a warped ideology and are really only temporary, they will have bought in to the whole idea of making your country ‘great’ again.

In charge of the Nazi Propaganda machine was Joseph Goebbels.

Mein Kampf contained the blue print for the Nazi propaganda.

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“Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed.The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another.The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood”

The propaganda machine already started rolling years before WWII started.Below are examples of the Nazi propaganda.

Nazi Party election poster used in Vienna in 1930. Translation: “We demand freedom and bread”.

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A 1937 anti-Bolshevik Nazi propaganda poster. The translated caption: “Bolshevism without a mask – large anti-Bolshevik exhibition of the NSDAP Gauleitung Berlin from November 6, 1937 to December 19, 1937 in the Reichstag building”.

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Photo of front page of Der Stürmer, dated May 1934, which is on permanent display at the Jewish Museum, Berlin. Subject matter is the Blood libel against Jews.

Der Stürmer, a weekly magazine published by Julius Streicher, was the most vile anti-Semitic publication of the National Socialist period. This special edition was dedicated to the practice of ritual murder ascribed to the Jews. The authors presented their prejudices as fact in order to intensify anti-Semitic hatred towards the ‘murderers of Christ.’ This accusation, which emerged in the Middle Ages, maligned Jews as ‘murderers’ of Christian children for ritualistic purposes. Der Stürmer attempted to keep this old prejudice alive by citing alleged current examples.

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The same publisher also released in  1938 Der Giftpilz (translated into English as The Toadstool or The Poisonous Mushroom), one of the most widespread pieces of propaganda, which warned about insidious dangers Jews posed by using the metaphor of an attractive yet deadly mushroom.

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Nur für Deutsche (“Only for Germans”), a Nazi slogan used in occupied territories, mainly posted at entrances to parks, cafes, cinemas, theatres and other facilities.

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Our last hope,Hitler

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Goebbels had commissioned a great number of movies A particularly nasty one was a documentary called “Der ewige Jude” -the eternal Jew.

The Jews of Poland (invaded by Germany in 1939) are depicted as filthy, evil, corrupt, and intent on world domination. Street scenes are shown prejudicially, along with clips from Jewish cinema of the day and photos of Jewish celebrities, while the narrator “explains” the Jewish problem. The climax and resolution of the film is Hitler’s 1939 announcement that the Jewish race will meet its “annihilation”

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There were numerous posters of portraying the Aryan race as the master race, mostly depicting youthful wholesome and athletic looking men and women.

Given the fact that the world was in turmoil in the 1930’s it is not hard to understand that a lot of people fell for the promise of a better life.

Unfortunately the similarities to what is happening globally at the moment is staggering.