The Age of Propaganda


“Jap Trap,” World War II propaganda poster, United States Information Service, 1941–45. Densho Digital Archive,

“Propaganda can tip the scales,” claims Schivelbusch in regards to state influence in times of political turmoil in his Three New Deals. (85) The usual dialogue on the topic of interwar propaganda mostly elicits imagery associated with the USSR and Nazi regime, but what about the propaganda and control by the United States government? This is an example:

This blatantly racist imagery not only compares the Japanese to rats, it also depicts the rat with the physical stereotypes American’s gave the Japanese during the time. The squinted eyes, protruding teeth, and cartoonishly animated circular spectacles reappeared throughout anti-Japanese propaganda. The simple process of dehumanization of the enemy through animation also appears commonly in the anti-semitic propaganda perpetuated by the Nazis.


The Nazis as well as America assimilated the rat with their enemies. Rats are grotesque, parasitic, and carry disease. Essentially, they are an animal no one loves. It is certainly easier to identify propaganda that is new or foreign, however, after those images are presented repeatedly they become automatically associated with the intended concept and sink into the subconscious. This, in effect, is what makes it so powerful.

If an audience is being persuaded without realizing, can they stop it?



The “New Man”

Germany and the Soviet Union utilized the idea of the New Man in different ways, according to Fritzsche and Hellbeck in “The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany”. In Nazi Germany he was a tough figure, with no remorse and racial superiority was held above all. In the USSR, the New Man conformed to the new movements and was an example to others. All of this was achieved through propaganda, which Schivelbusch, in Three New Deals detailed through radio broadcasts and symbols.

The Soviet New Man became part of the intelligentsia and was physically robust. The world was for the New Man, and the old must be removed. Yet in Nazi Germany it was for only the pure Aryan. To be deemed Aryan, Germans themselves had to compile Ahnenpass themselves.1The geneological passport that was created went from the current person backward. Each person was required to do this to prove their Aryan heritage. It was also inspected before marriage, and often couples were deemed unfit to marry due to their bloodlines. They were not candidates to contribute to the greatness of the Aryan race.

During the Nazi reign, some Germans, deemed Aryan and without defects, were denied the right to marriage and children. This is an area we have not discussed in class. It appears as though the Nazi regime was continually reducing the amount of people who were allowed to procreate, at a time when the population was already suffering from losses in the Great War, and soon to occur in WWII. To me it appears counterproductive. Yes they were trying to establish a master race and only wanted to pure of blood to live within Germany, yet they were continually putting the country at a great disadvantage by threatening to decrease the population of people and thus workers and soldiers.


1 Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck, “The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany,” Beyond Totalitariansim, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 331.