World War I

World War I: Powerful (and Creepy) Propaganda Posters

As in any conflict, the combatants in World War I required manpower — and money. Making propaganda posters about the war being waged was a way to ensure a steady supply of both. Here, a collection of some of the most striking art from that era.

BRITISH RECRUITMENT POSTER UniversalImagesGroup/Getty Images BRITISH RECRUITMENT POSTER The time-honored art of emotional blackmail. GERMAN RECRUITMENT POSTER FPG/Getty Images GERMAN RECRUITMENT POSTER This poster includes the line "The arch enemy is England! So, remain united!, remain strong!, and you will assure Germany's victory" GERMAN POSTER BY ARTIST LUCIEN BERNHARD Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images GERMAN POSTER BY ARTIST LUCIEN BERNHARD In this one, the ghost of a sailor drapes his arm around a soldier.

More Stories From FOTO

DOWN WITH THE ENEMY Buyenlarge/Getty Images DOWN WITH THE ENEMY Many propaganda posters are powerful examples of graphic design. Here, a burning British biplane is shown plunging toward the ground. BRITISH RECRUITMENT POSTER BY ARTHUR WARDLE swim ink 2 llc/Corbis via Getty Images BRITISH RECRUITMENT POSTER BY ARTHUR WARDLE England, in the form of an old but still-powerful lion — long a symbol of the nation — calls on people and "overseas states" across the Empire to join the fight against Britain's foes. YOU'RE WANTED Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images YOU'RE WANTED One of the most recognizable pieces of British propaganda during World War I was the "Lord Kitchener Wants You" recruitment poster, featuring British Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener pointing at the viewer. MESSAGE FROM RUSSIA Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images MESSAGE FROM RUSSIA German Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) is depicted here as the witness to the death caused by German militarism that led to World War I. AN APPEAL TO THE IRISH Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images AN APPEAL TO THE IRISH The RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner torpedoed by a German U-boat in May 1915 off the coast of Ireland. Close to 1,200 men, women, and children died, including 130 Americans. The sinking of a vessel filled with civilians caused outrage around the world and the event was used in propaganda posters like this one to encourage people to join up and "avenge the Lusitania." MY FELLOW AMERICANS MPI/Getty Images MY FELLOW AMERICANS The United States entered the war on the side of England and France in 1917. This iconic image of "Uncle Sam," pointing his finger at the viewer in much the same way as Lord Kitchener in the famous British recruitment poster, has become a part of the West's shared visual culture. READ THIS MESSAGE MPI/Getty Images READ THIS MESSAGE Some posters were graphically simple and intense, while others — like this U.S. poster warning against Germany's "dreams of domination" — made their appeal with words. BUY LIBERTY BONDS Buyenlarge/Getty Images BUY LIBERTY BONDS Boots dripping blood, along with some striking typography, bring this poster to life. WATCH YOURSELF Photo 12/UIG via Getty Images WATCH YOURSELF A nightmarish poster distributed by the U.S. intelligence office features Kaiser Wilhelm II as a spider and warns people to be careful of what they say, and whom they say it to. RECRUITMENT DOWN UNDER UniversalImagesGroup/UIG via Getty Images RECRUITMENT DOWN UNDER A visually remarkable recruitment poster designed by Australian artist Norman Alfred William Lindsay. Roughly 60,000 Australians died in the war.



For more FOTO stories directly in your inbox, sign up for our free weekly newsletter.