persuasive images: posters of war and Nazi propaganda speeches

The book Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution was written by Peter Paret, Beth Irwin Lewis, and Paul Paret. The story was published in Princeton Universities press in 1992. Peter Paret himself was born in Berlin, Germany on April 13th, 1924.  Peter Paret’s mother was Jewish while the father was not so when the parents divorced Peter eventually immigrated to America in 1937 while Peter Paret’s father stayed in Germany. Peter Paret’s wife was Isabel Harris and their two children were Suzanne Aimeee Paret and Paul Louis Paret. Paret at one point served three years in the United States army from 1943-1946 and he specifically served in New Guinea, the Philippines, and Korea. This first hand perspective on war gave Paret the ability to describe the brutality and a first hand look at how war impacted individuals.“Paret belonged to a generation of World War II veterans who used their experience of the war to better understand military history. Paret’s major interests include the relationship between art of a particular era is related to that era’s ideology and social context, and the interactions among politics, intellectual trends, and war.” (JewAge article)

Additionally, in the book it discusses and brings attention to 317 different posters that were involved in World War 2. With these posters, the United States government wanted its audience to feel compelled to join in the war to fight against the enemy. Through these posters the US government would dehumanize their enemy to help the American people not feel guilty about killing other human beings. By dehumanizing the enemy this allowed more American citizens to become invested in fighting for their government because they knew they were not fighting against another person but they were fighting against something that was not human and was threatening American citizens. Through these posters the United States government gained more civilians to become involved in fighting to defend the US.

Changing subjects, I watched this video on Hitler giving a speech to the German people. In the speech, he tells his Nazi supporters that he needs their help to get the German people on his side. These brief ten minutes clips of some of his speeches provide me with an insight at how well Hitler was able to influence and make people believe in his theory that the German people were superior to other races. Hitler at the beginning of the video makes the Nazi people out to be the victims that went through adversity. He says, “I know, my comrades, that it must have been difficult at times… when you desired change that never came… so again and again the appeal had to be made… to continue the struggle… you mustn’t act yourself, you must obey, you must give in… you must submit to the overwhelming need to obey.” That is the whole idea behind propaganda is to make an individual’s actions justified so that it can “help” make an individual’s country better. When the most powerful man in Germany turned to his people and told them to try and exterminate the Jews as it would be helping them save their country from evil. Many of his followers did what they were told. Additionally, just watching these short clips on Hitler’s speeches made me realize that many of his speeches include uniting the German people together to fight and support their country through the ups and downs. He also wanted all of the German people to help one another despite their social class and work together as a unit. Hitler made the German people believe that their actions were helping their people and as Hitler said, “The most precious possession you have in the world… is your own people.” While Hitler may have been trying to “create” a better Germany he ultimately made millions suffer and the world a more hateful and cruel place, in my opinion.

In addition to those speeches, one of the films that I started watching was called, Triumph Of The Will or also known as Triumph des Willens. This films was produced in 1935 and shows clips of the Nazi group coming together and giving praise to their leader Hitler. To the Nazi group Hitler seemed to be beloved by his followers. The film has an up close personal viewpoint of Nazi leaders giving speeches to the Nazi parties and the speakers included Nazi leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Rudolph Hess, and Julius Streicher. These clips and speeches give me as the audience a personal first hand-look at Nazi propaganda and how the leaders were capable of influencing their followers. -Hitler Speeches


“Peter Paret – Biography.” JewAge,


Everipedia. “Peter Paret.” Wiki | Everipedia, 6 July 2016,


Riefenstahl, Leni, director. TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. N.S.D.A.P. (NAZI PARTY), 1936. (Facts and analysis on Peter Paret)


2 thoughts on “persuasive images: posters of war and Nazi propaganda speeches”

  1. You seem very directed in your approach based on the types of texts you are focusing on, and that’s a good start. What theoretical lens do you plan to apply to these primary texts? Is this strictly cultural, or do you plan to delve further into the psychoanalytic approach regarding propaganda and how visual and verbal literature aided in coming together of WWII? That might put a different spin on the ideas you already presented, further complicating the ideas you’re already interested in. On a separate note, if you’re looking for more primary texts, I highly encourage you to visit the Trout Gallery – they have a wonderful exhibit of WWII propaganda posters and visuals that were used to amp up nationalism and encourage participation in the war.

  2. I agree with Kate that this post required more theoretical sources as a lens to analyze the primary sources, yet it still had a compelling argument. You should seek sources that further explore how Allies and Axis characterized their enemies as sub-human. AS your reading will focus on Triumph of the Will and the film aspects of propaganda, I also suggest looking into more film theorists. Are there any theorists who discuss Warner Brothers cartoon propaganda against Japanese, or Disney cartoon propaganda against the Nazi regime?
    I’ll include youtube links to the above cartoons for your interest:

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