The Vilification of Enemy Leadership in WWII

Herbert A. Friedman

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Arthur Syzk Caricature: The New Order

During World War II the leaders of the Axis powers (Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Emperor Hirohito) were sometimes depicted by Allied "black" propagandists as monsters. Black propaganda purports to emanate from a source other than the true one. This type of propaganda is associated with covert psychological operations. The enemy leaders were caricatured as gorillas, skeletons, rats, or whatever the Allied "psywarriors" could dream up. This was all part of the process of wartime depersonalization, the destruction of an individual as a human being and the resultant new image of him as vermin good only for killing.

At the same time, we often ridiculed those leaders and their political followers. Why do we ridicule enemy leaders and policies? The Public Diplomacy White Paper No. 7 article “Ridicule as a Weapon” by J. Michael Waller explains in part.

Dictators, tyrants, and those who aspire to seize and keep power by intimidation and force can tolerate no public ridicule. They generally harbor grandiose self-images with little bearing on how people really think of them. They require a controlled political environment, reinforced by sycophants and toadies, to preserve an impenetrable image…

Hence the vulnerability: Control is the essence of an authoritarian movement or dictatorship…

Ridicule is a powerful weapon. It can be a strategic weapon. Some of the reasons that ridicule is so powerful because:

1. It sticks.
2, The target can’t refute it.
3. It is almost impossible to repress, even if driven underground.
4. It spreads on its own and multiplies naturally.
5. It boosts morale at home.
6. Ridicule divides the enemy, damages its morale, and makes it less attractive to supporters and prospective recruits.
7. To the enemy, ridicule can be worse than death.

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The Fuehrer’s Face

Perhaps the most popular example of a civilian vilification of Adolf Hitler was the 1943 Walt Disney Donald Duck cartoon that featured the Spike Jones song “Der Fuehrer’s Face.” The lyrics are in part:

When Der Fuehrer says, "We ist der master race"
We HEIL! HEIL! Right in Der Fuehrer's face
Not to love Der Fuehrer is a great disgrace
So we HEIL! HEIL! Right in Der Fuehrer's face

We bring the world to order
Heil Hitler's world New Order
Everyone of foreign race will love Der Fuehrer's face
When we bring to der world disorder

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German Chancellor Adolf Hitler

Hitler was probably the enemy leader most attacked. United States psychological operations (PSYOP) did some "black" characterizations of "Der Führer," showing him as "Death" with a skull for a face. In general, American propagandists did not attack Adolf Hitler in their official "white" propaganda. Daniel Lerner discusses this in Sykewar, George E. Stewart, NYC, 1949. He says:

Sykewar confined itself to attacks against Nazism as a creed and against other Nazi leaders, but deliberately refrained from attacking Hitler...All available intelligence showed that loyalty to Hitler personally, particularly among the Wehrmacht (the German armed forces), was widespread and deep-seated. Even among Germans who were not particularly strong Nazis, and who actively disliked other leading Nazis, Hitler remained largely inviolate as a symbol.

The psychological warfare standing directive stated:

At present, the average soldier, despite the awareness that he has made serious mistakes, is not inclined to blame Hitler, as the generals and other informed persons already do....

Lerner ends:

Therefore, in order to avoid direct offense against the known susceptibilities of its main German target, the average soldier and civilian, rather than the generals and other informed persons, the Psychological Warfare Division never openly attacked Hitler.

The classified "confidential" Psychological Warfare Branch Combat Team booklet says in a section entitled "Recent PWB Orders, May 1944":

Hitler is 'taboo' in tactical "propaganda, but may now be attacked on the strategic level.

Although the official government "white" PSYOP recommendations were against any attack on the German leader, the classified papers of the Office of Strategic Services show that in "black" propaganda it was not only welcomed, but encouraged.

A "secret" OSS letter dated 6 September 1943 discusses the Morale Operations (MO) Section anti-Hitler "Heel" campaign. Some selected comments are:

To destroy the myth and bring the Führer down to the level of the ordinary Party leader we must stress the human failings and foibles of der Führer.

Suggested implementation: Hitler personally profited at the rate of 1 Reich mark for every kilometer of road built in Germany during the 1930s. Hitler is terrified by air-raids and has, therefore, never visited an area which has just been bombed and is apt to be bombed again. A Parisian connoisseur, after seeing Hitler’s collection of pornographic pictures stated that it was the best in Europe. Hitler has five luxurious estates which he visits in rotation so that he will not appear to be spending too much time in any one of them.

To picture Hitler as utterly unsympathetic toward the loss of life and the suffering of the individual German.

Suggested implementation: Hitler has declared, "I will not stop fighting until 10,000,000 Germans have died. 4 million are gone, 6 million to go. Hitler has ordered that air-raid victims who have been maimed and crippled be done away with by euthanasia.

To spread the view that Hitler is insane.

Suggested implementation: Hitler’s creeping paralysis due to syphilitic infection in the last war has now reached his speaking organs and his brain. When the Führer tried to rehearse a recent speech, it was discovered that he could not control his voice. Hitler hears voices every night and insists that Roehm is talking to him. Hitler now goes around all day dressed as Frederick the Great. Hitler keeps two Gypsy-Jewish soothsayers at Berchtesgarden all the time.

Another declassified OSS document dated 3 August 1945 recommended a series of postcards that would make Hitler “an object of ridicule and call his sanity into question.” The document suggests picture postcards of Der Fuehrer taking dancing lessons with a fake story that because of the strain of the war. His doctor had recommended that he exercise by dancing. Some of the scenes recommended are:

  1. Hitler smiling gaily at a male folk dance instructor.
  2. Hitler dancing with children.
  3. Hitler dancing with an obese woman, “kicking up his heels in wild abandon and laughing joyously.”
  4. Hitler dancing in his office while German generals stand in the background scowling.
  5. Hitler dancing in front of Goebbels’ children. They applaud while Goebbels frowns.
  6. Hitler dancing in a male ballet costume in an exotic pose.

The Soviets were much more antagonistic and hostile, attacking Hitler repeatedly and showing him in several guises, usually dripping or splattered with bright red blood. They also attacked Nazi Minister of Propaganda and public information Joseph Goebbels and Reichsfuhrer-SS, head of the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS Heinrich Himmler. Their personal attacks on the high Nazi Party leaders were much more abusive than those of any of the other Allied nations.

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Japanese Emperor Hirohito

Hirohito was not attacked with such vehemence. There seemed to be a general belief that because of the reverence toward the Emperor by the Japanese people, he must be protected and kept in position to control the populace of Japan after the war. Paul Linebarger touches on this issue in Psychological Warfare, Infantry Journal Press, Washington D.C., 1948,

It would have helped domestic American politics to call the Japanese Emperor a monkey, a swine, a lunatic, a witch-doctor or comparable names; some people did so. But if the American government had done so at home for the purpose of rousing its own public, the Japanese home public would have been roused even more with the net result that the Americans would have lost by such attacks.

The subject is mentioned again in the classified OWI Far East Training Program for members about to be assigned to the Outpost Service Bureau in Saipan:

There was a tendency in the first days of operation out here on the Pacific to want to refer to Hirohito as a slit-eyed, buck-toothed little son-of-a-gun, or other colorful phrases of that sort, some of them not suitable for the air. And they said, “Why not? He is the head of a country and that country is our enemy. We are fighting them.”

The State Department and many others who knew Japan pretty well said, “It is just about as effective to attack the Emperor of Japan as if the Japanese were to attack George Washington.” The Emperor of Japan is a historic institution to the Japanese and it doesn’t do much good to call him names.

The best way to create disunity in Japan…would be to take advantage of the loyal feeling the Japanese have for their institution of Emperor…to start spreading the idea that the military clique is ruling Japan and has shoved the nation into war by deceiving, misleading and misguiding the Emperor…

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War Department Pamphlet No. 21-31

Although it is clear that the U.S. Government did not want to insult the Japanese Emperor, in this pamphlet wartime propaganda artist Arthur Szyz depicts him as sad and dejected having lost his allies Hitler and Mussolini.

The Americans were more likely to officially tell the Japanese that their beloved and revered Emperor wanted peace but that the evil militarists had dragged Japan into the war against his will. In light of what we know about Japanese politics during the war years, that scenario may be closer to the truth than was known at the time.

The Emperor is mentioned in depth in Office of War Information training lectures. Robert Kinkead spoke of him in a lecture entitled, “Directives and Editorial Control” in a lecture to OWI students in San Francisco in 1944. He said: 

 

There was a tendency in the first days of the operation out here in the Pacific Theater to refer to Hirohito as a slit-eyed, buck-toothed little son-of-a-gun, or other colorful phrases of that sort, some of them not suitable for the air. Tthey said, “why not? He is the head of a country and that country is our enemy. We are fighting them.”

 

The State Department and others who knew Japan pretty well said, “It is just about as effective to attack the Emperor of Japan as if the Japanese were to attack George Washington.” The Emperor of Japan is a historic institution and it doesn’t do much good to call him names. In fact, it is a good rule in propaganda to never call anyone a name unless you think up a name so good that it sticks to them. The best way to create disunity in Japan was to take advantage of the loyal feeling the Japanese have for their institution of Emperor. Spread the idea that the military clique is ruling Japan and has shoved the nation into war, deceiving the Emperor, misleading him, and misguiding him.

Three reasons that America thought it ill-advised to attack the Emperor are mentioned in the book Mirror for Man, Clyde Kluckhorn, McGraw-Hill, NY 1949.

 

First of all, It was important that the United States explain to the Japanese that the Allies were fighting their military and political leaders, and not the Emperor, who was held in special fascination by the people.

 

Second, since the Emperor was so beloved and worshipped by the people, to attack him would be counterproductive. It would intensify and prolong the Japanese resistance and give the militarists a rallying cry.

 

Finally, the only hope that an American victory would lead to the complete surrender of Japanese troops scattered over the Pacific islands and on the continent of Asia was for the Emperor to give the command for them to lay down their arms. This respected leader of the Japanese people must be kept in place so that he can unconditionally surrender his forces and so that there can be a smooth transition of power. The author adds, “It is always more effective to preserve some continuity in the existing social organization and to work at reorganization from the established base."

 

The Japanese as a race did not get off so easy. In an article entitled "Psychological Aspects of Current Japanese and German Paradoxa,” published in The Psychoanalytic Review of January 1945 the Japanese are accused of:

Unlimited greediness, and inability of lack of will to keep promises. A disregard and distortion of facts, a release of aggression against the weaker, and a glorification of one’s self coupled with extreme servility toward one’s leader.

An August 1945 article in Psychiatry: Journal of Biology and the Pathology of Interpersonal Relations claimed that the Japanese suffer from secretiveness, fanaticism, hypochondriasis, and jealousy.

Some of the American hatred toward the Japanese as a people are mentioned by James J. Weingartner in his article “Trophies of War: U.S. Troops and the Mutilation of Japanese War Dead, 1941-1945,” in The Pacific Historical Review, February 1992. Some of his comments are:

The often savage conduct of Japanese troops, already demonstrated in the “China incident” which had begun in 1937, was carried into the Pacific war with the United States and, combined with a suicidal tenacity which most Americans found unnatural, contributed to the widely held view of the Japanese as less than human…

In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the press applied to the Japanese such terminology as “mad dogs” and “yellow vermin.” The official U.S. Navy film on the capture of Tarawa characterized the Japanese defenders as “living, snarling rats.” Pictorially, Japanese were commonly represented as apes or monkeys, but also as insects, reptiles, and bats. A particularly repugnant caricature appeared on the cover of Collier's magazine commemorating the first anniversary of the air raid on Pearl Harbor. A hideous, slant-eyed creature with huge fangs and large, pointed ears, wearing a samurai sword, is shown descending on Oahu on bat wings, preparing to loose a bomb on the ships anchored in the harbor beneath…

Two days after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, President Truman remarked: “The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.”

John W. Dower says in War without Mercy – Race and Power in the Pacific War, Pantheon Books, NYC, 1986:

The Western Allies persisted in their notion of the “subhuman” nature of the Japanese, routinely turning to images of apes and vermin to convey this. They portrayed the Japanese as inherently inferior men and women who had to be understood in terms of primitivism, childishness and collective mental and emotional deficiency…Admiral William Halsey vowed that after the war, Japanese would only be spoken in Hell. His slogan was, “Kill Japs. Kill Japs, Kill more Japs.” The Marine battle cry on Tarawa was, “Kill the Jap bastards! Take no prisoners.” The 41st Division under MacArthur was nicknamed “the Butchers” by Tokyo Rose. They bragged that “The 41st didn’t take prisoners.”

So, at the same time that American psychological operatives were being careful not to insult the Japanese Emperor, they had no qualms about attacking the Japanese people and their society.

That takes us directly to the Japanese military leader who was acceptable as an American propaganda target.

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Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo

His Minister of War, and later Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo was not so lucky. He was an open target. In domestic American propaganda, the Japanese people were depicted as short, bandy-legged, buck-toothed, four-eyed, back-stabbers who continually said "so sorry." Many American soldiers were quite surprised to find that the Japanese were excellent soldiers. That is a constant problem when one attempts to downplay and ridicule the quality of an enemy. It can backfire on your own troops who suddenly discover that the foe is not the comical character they had been shown in cartoons and newspapers.

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Sy Moyer's Caricature of Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo

After Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle bombed Tokyo on 18 April 1942, captured American flyers were executed. President Roosevelt called the executions "barbarous." The above image was drawn by Sy Moyer and depicts Prime Minister Tojo as a blood-thirsty monster feasting on the body of a dead American airman.

Anthony V. Navarro discusses American propaganda against the Japanese in "A Critical Comparison Between Japanese and American Propaganda during World War II." He says, "A common technique used by propagandists was to liken the Japanese to animals like snakes and rats. But the most common animal used to portray the Japanese was the monkey. In several posters and editorial cartoons, the Japanese were drawn up as monkeys hanging from trees or lumbering around like big gorillas. The image of a subhuman primate was key to undercutting the humanity of the enemy. The enemy was less than human, thus much easier to kill."

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Arthur Szyk Collier Magazine Cover

The artist Arthur Szyk painted this magazine cover to show the perfidy of the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning without a declaration of war while their representatives were in Washington D.C. to discuss peace. It depicts a placid Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. A caricature of a Japanese officer in the form of a vampire bat with swastikas on his shoulders (to show the relationship to Hitler’s Germany) is about to drop a bomb marked with a deathshead.

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Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini

Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini got off fairly lightly. With his jutting chin, thick neck and bald head, he was already a caricature. Most American propaganda simply showed him as a bumbling fool. That is odd when you remember that he was the original black-shirted Fascist and the man who was an early mentor of Hitler. In fact, the German leader admired Mussolini enough to send Sturmbannfüehrer Otto Skorzeny on a commando mission to rescue him after he had been imprisoned by the Italian government. Still, the Italian Army suffered defeat after defeat and was never a threat to the Allies so perhaps attacking Il Duce was simply not worth the bother.

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Leaflet F59 - The Friend of Pierre Laval
(Leaflet courtesy of Rod Oakland)

The British Psychological Warfare Executive did prepare a leaflet to France identified as F59. This leaflet shows the braggart Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and is entitled "The Friend of Pierre Laval." The leaflet was dropped over France from the night of 3 June to 20 August 1942. Italy had attacked France to grab some territory once it became clear that Germany was going to be victorious. The British here remind the French that Mussolini is a good friend of fellow-Fascist Pierre Laval. Laval will be mentioned again near the end of this article.

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I am the Victim of Roosevelt by Arthur Szyk

An example of the lack of respect and low esteem shown the Italian dictator is the 1942 caricature by Arthur Szyk entitled, "I am the Victim of Roosevelt." The drawing shows Mussolini, cringing and pointing to himself, as the victim of the wartime American president. The Duce's clothes are torn and ragged, and he barely supports himself with a cane. Rather than attack Mussolini, this caricature almost pities him.

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An American Propaganda Postcard Ridiculing Mussolini

During WWII, Verona was a hotbed of Axis propaganda. Many of the German and Italian PSYOP items were printed there. Apparently, after the fall of the Fascist government in Italy the Allies used the same printing plant.

This U. S. Army propaganda postcard depicts a caricature of Benito Mussolini with jutting chin and pointy ears in an open car with Claretta Petacci (Bibi), his 33-year-old mistress. Text on the front in English, Italian and French is “Bibi’s Escape.” A suitcase in the open truck is labeled “Shining gold.”

Il Duce was denounced at a meeting of the Fascist Grand Council on 25 July 1943 and jailed, but rescued on the order of Adolf Hitler and returned to Northern Italy where he ruled a Republican Fascist state. On 28 April 1945, Mussolini, along with his mistress was caught by Communist partisans as he tried to escape to Switzerland. He and Claretta were summarily executed without judicial procedure and hung from lamp poles. Hitler was so shocked by the brutality of the execution and public humiliation that he ordered his staff to burn his body after his suicide. The back of the postcard bears the text:

Authorized 8-6-45 Psychological Warfare Branch – Press Office – Verona – Reproduction prohibited.

In the United States many Psychological Operations manuals are quite explicit about attacking an enemy leader. It is generally frowned upon. U.S.Army Field Manual 33-1, Psychological Operations lists under themes that are counterproductive and should not be used, “Do not insult or anger the target audience. Keep their minds open and their emotions friendly.”

The British were careful in WWII to attack the Nazi Party leaders and claim that they had betrayed the beloved Führer. In general the theory is that attacking a leader infuriates his people and stiffens their will to resist. As a result, leaders are not targeted for ridicule. In this article we will illustrate those wonderful exceptions to the rule.

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OSS Hitler Skull Stamp

Shortly after his death, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's stamp collection was sold at auction. One of the documents found in this accumulation was a letter to the President from William H. (Wild Bill) Donovan, Director of the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS). This letter indicated that the United States government had counterfeited German postage stamps and other documents.

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Sheet of 50 of the Hitler Death Head Parody

In addition, a 12-pfennig red postage stamp was altered to show Hitler's head as a skull. The text at the bottom of the stamp was altered from DEUTSCHES REICH to FUTSCHES REICH ("LOST EMPIRE"). The OSS printed 1,138,500 of these parody postal stamps and shipped them to their agents all over Europe. The skull stamps were sometimes placed inside envelopes mailed into Germany.

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The OSS Hitler Birthday Sheet Parody

The OSS later produced a propaganda parody of a Hitler birthday souvenir sheet. One of the earliest mentions of the propaganda sheet appears in Forged Stamps of Two World Wars, by L. N. and M. Williams, Verdant Press, London, 1954. The Williams brothers state, "The Allied propagandists represented Hitler on numerous occasions as the personification of death itself, and this idea was expressed in several parodies of stamps put out by the Allies during the later stages of the war. The first intimation philatelists had that a Hitler "death's head" or "skull" stamp existed, came when the Roosevelt collection was dispersed. During the second auction a miniature sheet of four, copied from the miniature sheet issued by Germany in 1937 to mark Hitler's 48th birthday and with the same inscription at the foot but with each stamp showing a skull and a row of crosses as the centerpiece, realized 90 pounds."

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Wipe your butt on the Führer

Both the British and the Americans produced a number of leaflets in the form of a coarse toilet paper showing the face of Hitler. I have seen about a half-dozen different ones and certainly more exist. They are never coded. The finder was expected to wipe his butt with the image of Germany’s leader. This is a very interesting and imaginative way to vilify an enemy. I should point out that there were also civilian toilet paper souvenirs that depicted Hitler which were sold for profit, but the official government campaigns always were printed on a low-grade brownish paper. The civilian patriotic sheets were of much higher quality. The propaganda sheet above caricatures the Führer and says simply:

Use this side.

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The Only Place…

Staying with the “potty” humor, The Office of War Information in Berne produced an anti-Hitler cartoon for the Germans. William Warren Wertz Jr. mentions this cartoon in his Master of Arts in Political Science thesis entitled Clandestine Propaganda from Berne (1942—1945): United States Leaflets Subverting Hitler. The Fuehrer is depicted pensively sitting on a toilet. The leaflet bears the hand stamp “124A” which usually means that it is an OSS product. The two agencies worked together, but the OWI often failed to mention the OSS because their cooperation was a secret in neutral Switzerland. The text is:

The only place where he hasn’t got into mischief…!!

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OWI Leaflet USH.4
(Leaflet courtesy of Lee Richards)

The Office of War Information prepared a vilification leaflet depicting a skeleton representing "Death" holding a mask of Adolf Hitler. The leaflet was prepared in at least three versions, with German, Dutch and French language text. Various codes for this leaflet are known according to the target, USF.4, USH.4 and USG.4. The Complete Index of Allied Airborne Leaflets and Magazines identifies the French version of the 1942 leaflet as "Franklin Roosevelt's message," and says that it was not disseminated. The Dutch version of the same leaflet is identified as a 1943 leaflet, "A Message to Youth," and also listed as not disseminated. The Index entry for the German leaflet USG.4 is Der Angriff, ("The Attack"), a leaflet that was disseminated. That is certainly a different leaflet. It is possible that the French and Dutch versions were printed but not dropped and the German version may have been printed and not dropped and the code number re-used for a different leaflet at a later date.

Why would such a leaflet be printed and then not disseminated? As we said earlier, the Allies seldom vilified enemy heads of state like Hitler in a "white" leaflet. Perhaps higher headquarters decided that it was unsatisfactory. We note that none of the first four Dutch leaflets (USH.1 - USH.4) or the first five French leaflets (USF.1 - USF.5) were disseminated. So, it appears that when OWI first started producing leaflets they printed four or five leaflets in different languages, presumably as an experiment, most of which were never distributed. Perhaps they showed them to different interested parties like the British Psychological Warfare Executive to get their reactions and feedback. PWE might have suggested to OWI that a leaflet of this nature featuring a personal attack is not effective. Finally, we must consider that perhaps they were just test leaflets that the Americans designed and printed to practice and fine-tune their skills.

As we stated above, the leaflet pictures a skeleton in a Nazi uniform holding a Hitler facial mask. The mask is bone white, the background colors are a blood red and black. This is a two-page "gate-fold" leaflet. The same image appears on the first and last page. Above the image there is a quote by President Roosevelt, "Now the world knows the fascists have nothing to offer youth – except death." Two pages were needed because the message to the youth of the world was a rather long speech by Roosevelt that could not be printed on a single sheet. The message on the inside pages begins:

A message to youth by Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States.

For many years the Germans and the Japanese have made their hypocritical appeal to youth. They have tried with all their blatant publicity to represent themselves as the champions of youth. But now the world knows that the Nazis, the fascists, and the militarists of Japan have nothing to offer youth - except death. On the other hand the cause of the United Nations is the cause of youth itself. It is the hope of a new generation, and of generations that are to come. The hope for a new life that can be lived in freedom, justice, and decency.

After a long discussion about concepts, principals, and divine guidance, the message ends:

We must maintain the offensive against evil in all its forms. We must work and we must fight to insure that our children shall have and enjoy in peace their inalienable right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Only on those bold terms can this total war resolve in total victory.

For many years prior to WWII various venders made and sold puzzles to children. These puzzles had a number of different pictures on the front, and when folded in a special complex way depicted a hidden picture of an old man, or sometimes a political leader, sports figure or movie star.

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Pig Puzzle

During WWII the British Special Operations executive is believed to have produced a number of different puzzles showing four pigs on the front, that when folded depicted the face of Adolf Hitler. At least four types of the pig puzzle are known, and it is believed that besides being used in Allied countries as a morale booster, they were also shipped to partisans in Nazi-occupied nations to attack and belittle the German Führer.

One type with English text says, "Fold as directed to find the biggest pig of all." Another English-language puzzle says, "Puzzle of the pig. Here is the puzzle of the fifth pig. To find a fifth one fold as directed." A third puzzle is found in both French and English and was also distributed in Australia. The text is, "Cherchez le cinquieme" and "Find the fifth pig." The fourth variety is in Dutch and English and says, " Zoek het 5 de zwijn" and "Where is the fifth pig?"

Apparently, many of these puzzles were also dropped by the Royal Air Force. In 2008, I received a letter that stated:

My Father came to Canada from the Netherlands in the 1950's.   When he was a young man in Holland during the war he collected different things. He has a paper he said they threw out of an airplane. It is written in Dutch and English. “Can you find the 5th pig.”  There are four pigs on the picture, and when folded right the four pigs together make a face that resembles Hitler.

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Greek Mussolini Pig Puzzle

After the Italians attacked Greece, still another "pig puzzle" was prepared, this time in the Greek language with the pigs depicting the face of Mussolini.

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Original German Hoffmann photo postcard and parody.

One of the most intriguing and insidious insults to Adolf Hitler was a propaganda postcard code numbered H.789 produced by Director Sefton Delmer of the British Political Warfare Executive (PWE) that showed the Führer with his penis in his hand. The postcard chosen to caricature was originally a product of Foto Hoffman of Munich. Hitler stands on what appears to be balcony with his left hand on the rail and his right hand on his waist. In the parody, his right hand is depicted holding an uncircumcised penis. This probably was designed to feed the rumor that Hitler was indeed a self-hating Jew. The text is a quote from Hitler’s Munich speech of 8 November 1942:

What we have, that we firmly hold.

Sefton Delmer first mentioned this postcard in an article in the Times Literary Supplement of 21 January 1972 entitled “H.M.G.’s Secret Pornographer.”

When I interviewed the British master-forger Ellic Howe in 1980 he told me that about 100 copies of the postcard were printed in late 1943 or early 1944 but they were never disseminated. He thought that they had all been destroyed. My own research later determined that 2,500 postcards were delivered on 13 March 1944. The operation was cancelled on the order of the Director General of the PWE. One agent quoted a high British official as saying that he would rather lose the war to Germany than take part in such psychological warfare pornographic endeavors.

Sefton Delmer talked about this strange gentlemanly attitude:

The third pornographic leaflet we did was never distributed. Not that SOE objected to it. On the contrary they were lavish with praise. But an old army colonel had found it on the table of my secret printer whom he had visited with a view to acquiring some of our latest philatelic counterfeits. When he saw this particular piece of pornography he was almost beside himself with indignant fury. I did not want to hurt the old man by challenging him to battle over an item of pornography to which in any case I attached no great importance. So I immediately withdrew it. But it was not really all that bad.

British researcher Dr. Rod Oakland discovered one of these postcards in a private collection and mentioned it in the spring 1993 journal of the Psywar Society, the Falling Leaf.

The card was depicted in a British TV documentary entitled “Sex and the Swastika.” In the documentary, PWE artist Marion Whitehorn stated that she was given a postcard by a Brigadier General at the PWE secret headquarters about 45 miles outside London and told, “You Marion will impose a penis on this card…but not too big.”

This may be the single nastiest personal attack on an enemy leader in any war.

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OWI caricature of Fascist leaders.

Arthur Szyk was born in Lodz, Poland 3 June 1894. He enlisted in the Russian Army in 1914. He served for six months and saw front-line action. After World War I he fought as an officer in a Polish guerilla regiment against the Bolsheviks and eventually located in Paris in 1921. With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 he began producing cartoons and eventually moved to New York City. During the war he created numerous covers for Collier's magazine. He published a book filled with patriotic and anti-Fascist images, The New Order, G.P. Putnam's Sons, N.Y., 1941. The American Office of War Information (OWI) in Bern, Switzerland, used two of Szyk’s drawings for propaganda leaflets. The Szyk caricature above depicts Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe and President of the Reichstag Hermann Goering, a figure representing Death, Benito Mussolini, and Emperor Hirohito. The OWI produced a propaganda postcard coded "RLD" with the new title Trimpfzug Unter den Linden Berlin 1943, ("Triumph under the Linden trees, Berlin 1943").

 

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Gorilla Adolf

As I said in the introduction, the Soviet Union produced some very insulting images of Adolf Hitler.The first leaflet is in the form of a picture postcard. The Russians printed one million copies of the card 29 August 1941. The card depicts the German leader as an ape behind bars.

His hands and mouth are bloody and he wears a Nazi armband and an iron cross. At his left is a small sign, "Gorilla ADOLF - Caution! Rabid!" Text below the cage says "This is where he belongs - This is where he will go!" Although the card is in black and white, the blood has been painted a bright red. The caricature was drawn by three Russian artists, Michail Kuprijanow, Porfirij Krylow, and Nikolaj Sokolow who published under the name "Kukryniksy."

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Hail the Hatchet

The same three artists published a second propaganda postcard on 25 August 1941 that depicted Adolf Hitler in full uniform with his head an executioner's axe, standing over a stump that would be used to behead his enemies. A pile of human skulls are at the lower right. Black blood dripping from the head of the axe gives the general appearance of Hitler's hair. Text at the bottom of the card is Heil Beil ("Hail the Hatchet").

Zbynek Zeman mentions the image in Selling the War - Art and Propaganda in World War II, Exeter Books, New York, 1978. He says, "After Hitler's attack on the USSR on 22 June 1941, there was no need for the Soviets to make new organizational  arrangements for the conduct of their propaganda. As before, the agitprop department of the central committee was responsible for propaganda at home: it kept in touch with the 7th Department of Political Administration of the Red Army in Moscow, which was responsible, together with the lower-level political organs of the army, for the conduct of propaganda to the enemy.

 

The political detachments of the Red Army were equipped with stationary and mobile printing presses;  they concentrated on leaflet propaganda aimed at the enemy and his morale. With the establishment of the front-line organization 'Free Germany,' Soviet propaganda to the enemy moved into a higher gear.  For instance the picture postcard entitled 'Heil Beil', which depicted Hitler's face as an axe, was effective and, in a gruesome way, funny. This was 'black propaganda,' since the provenance of the postcard purported to have been OKW Offsetdruck Leipzig."

 

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Hitler is the War

In July of 1941 the Soviets prepared a leaflet depicting Hitler riding on a horse over bloody corpses. He holds a bloody executioner’s axe. Text at the top of the leaflet is "Hitler is the War." Text below the vignette is, "German soldier! He wades in your blood."

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German Soldiers!

Another Russian leaflet depicts Hitler with a horrible grimace looking at a pile of bloody dead and dying German soldiers. This image of Hitler was favored by the Soviets and it appears on several other leaflets. The text is, "German soldiers! Look who is guilty of this bloody war! Down with the gluttonous Hitler and his fascist hordes!

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Hitler with a necklace of his soldier's skulls

The above Russian leaflet depicts Hitler wearing a necklace of skulls around his neck. The text is, "My soldiers are always close to me".

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Hitler Crusade

This Russian leaflet depicts a cartoon of Hitler, his hands bloody, parading before his dead soldiers.

 

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Hitler Eradicates the German People

A September 1941 Soviet leaflet pictures Hitler with bloody hands riding on the back of "Death" who holds a bloody knife over a pile of dead Germans. The text is "Hitler Eradicates the German People."

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Hitler is the Enemy of the German People

The Soviets printed a leaflet in November 1941 entitled "Hitler is the enemy of the German people." The front of this leaflet bears no text, just a photomontage of Hitler in full uniform holding a shovel in a graveyard surrounded by German corpses. The meaning is clear. It is Hitler that caused all of these deaths. At the bottom of the leaflet there are two passierscheins (Safe conduct passes), one in German, one in Russian.

The concept of the photomontage leaflets was discussed by Soviet propagandist Alexander Shitomirski in Klaus Kirchner's Postcards Produced by the Soviets for Aerial Dissemination in WWII. The artist says, "At the beginning of my work with photomontages I had to think about many political, ethical and humanitarian questions and also about the technique of picture-montage. Nobody was there to help me so I had to find my own way. My photomontages were always directed at the individual soldier on the other side of the front who would eventually hold my product in his hands. In my imagination I took his place, and shared his thoughts. I understood his, I knew about his wife, his children, his house, and even about his dog. I knew everything about him. He had been dragged into a quagmire of dirt and blood, in a senseless and useless war. I told him graphically who was responsible and profited from his misery. I talked to him as a human being and offered him the only advice possible: cut your ties with Hitler and his clique, who have caused this war. Give up the fight and surrender."

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The Song of the Louse

Another Russian leaflet printed in December 1941 shows Hitler's face on the back of a body louse. Since the louse is a reviled creature that digs into the soldier's body and sucks his blood, the Soviet meaning was quite clear. There is no text on the front of the leaflet, but the back has the lyrics of a song entitled "the Song of the Louse." The text is:

Soldier, where is your hiding place?
In ice and snow, in dirt and mud!
With the curse of people heavy laden
You travel alone so far from home.
You travel alone with your comrade,
the poisonous fat louse.

One talks to you of rapid victory.
But this war is hopeless!
The weather will be gruesome cold.
Your rations grow ever shorter.
But, the louse grows ever fatter,
that feeds on your blood.

Who drives you into death and frost?
Who fans the war in the East?
In blind greed and wantonous,
Hitler, through your death and agony,
is growing fat on your blood.
The big fat brown louse.

It bites and sucks, it itches and stings!
German soldiers, do not tolerate it!
Free yourself of all these lice.
Do away with Hitler's war,
plug up the war's bloody gates,
squash Hitler, Squash the louse!

Buchbinder and Schuh writing in Heil Beil! Aerial Leaflets in the Second World War - Documentation and Analysis, Seewald Verlag Stuttgart, 1974, say about these cards, "a wrong judgment of the target group by the enemy. Such detailed defamation of Hitler's personality must have been found repulsive by the majority of German soldiers at the time, and frustrate the propaganda purpose."

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December 1941 leaflet newspaper
Front Illustrierte fur den Deutschen Soldaten

The Russian 4-page propaganda leaflet newspaper Front Illustrierte fur den Deutschen Soldaten (Front Illustrated for the German Soldiers)was published on a weekly basis from July 1941 to April 1945, 93 issues in all, and then airdropped over German troops. The newspapers were about 90% illustrations with many photographs and photomontages of a defeatist nature showing dead or wounded German troops and destroyed German war weapons and materials. Occasionally special issues would be produced with more than the usual four pages. Hardly an issue can be found that does not show rotting German corpses or burning German tanks on Russian soil. Hitler is often ridiculed, sometimes depicted with Napoleon’s hat, sometimes as a drunk, sometimes as a vulture on a mountain of corpses or sometimes leading an army of skeletons. Other Nazi leaders such as Göring, Goebbels and Himmler appear in various poses as rats, monkeys, money-grubbers and other strange creatures. Many of the illustrations were designed by the Russian artist Alexander Zhitomirsky. Besides German language editions, there were some copies of the newspaper printed in Italian, Romanian and Finnish.

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December 1941 Front Illustrierte fur den Deutschen Soldaten

The issue of December 1941 depicts Hitler drinking and wearing a German helmet while dead bodies are on the ground all around him.

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In the Beginning there was the Word

It is unfair to depict all these attacks on Hitler without showing the way that he was seen in Nazi propaganda for the German people. The postcard above is almost Biblical in nature and shows an early Hitler preaching to the faithful of the fledgling Nazi Party. The title of the portrait puts Hitler in the position of God since the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” With constant propaganda telling the German people that their leader was no less than a God, it is easy to see why many became such fervent believers.

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The Flag Bearer

Perhaps the image that best describes how Hitler was sold to the German people is “The Flag bearer.” In this Hubert Lanzinger portrait, Hitler is shown as a medieval knight bearing the Nazi banner. Can you imagine such a portrait depicting Roosevelt or Churchill? Note that Hitler’s face is not quite right. The painting was stabbed in the face by vandals at the end of WWII.

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Baby Hitler

A very strange photomontage ridiculing Adolf Hitler was apparently prepared sometime before the start of WWII. It depicts Hitler as a new-born baby in a hospital setting. The four people around Hitler are British politicians, from left to right: Duff Cooper, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden. The implication would seem to be that the British government had facilitated the rise of Adolf Hitler. At one time I thought that the Soviets produced this item since they were well known for using photomontages in leaflets and postcards, and at this time they were quietly trading with Hitler. I did originally say that “perhaps the picture was “doctored” by British propagandists.” The letter below indicates that “Baby Hitler” was British propaganda.

In June 2012 I heard from a British woman who said:

I had been trying for a long time to identify a photograph I had found amongst the many photographs belonging to my late Aunt, who died in 1980. For more than 30 years, from 1927 to 1960 she worked at the Kodak Photographic Company in Birmingham, England. She was employed during the days of black-and-white photographs to add color to black and white pictures and remove unwanted objects from other picture. I assume that the photograph of “Baby Hitler” was one of her, or her colleagues’ productions. The copy I have was printed on Velox photographic paper, which was sold by Kodak from 1902 onwards. It is 4.5 x 3.5-inches.

The Ten Naples Pornographic
Hitler and Mussolini Postcards

There is a mysterious set of ten pornographic postcards that depict both Hitler and Mussolini in various insulting sexual poses. The vignettes of the ten cards are all known. Eight are in horizontal format, two in vertical format. One depicts Hitler and Mussolini chasing each other around the table to see who will “bugger” the other, a flying penis about to enter Hitler, Hitler and Mussolini about to be anally raped by Moroccans, Mussolini having anal sex with Hitler while he is abused by a phallic Fasces, Mussolini looking at pornographic pictures while his mistress Clara Petacci talks to a Fascist officer, Mussolini performing oral sex on a woman, Mussolini performing oral sex on a woman while Hitler watches, Hitler pointing at a woman’s naked behind, a woman performing oral sex on Mussolini, and Hitler as a prostitute near a lamppost (Lili Marlene?). All of these postcards are pornographic and four have homosexual themes. They all have text in three languages; Italian, English and French. The anti-Fascist postcards were probably printed in Italy in late 1944. These cards appear to have come in a wrapper entitled “American Soldiers in Rome” with an American flag at the far left. The wrapper is made from a thick paper which could be folded around the cards. Since this obviously has nothing to do with American soldiers, I suspect the Italians meant “For American Soldiers in Rome.” Since Rome was liberated by General Mark Clark on 4 June 1944, that gives us a possible earliest date for the production of the pornographic postcards.

At the right side of the back of the reprinted cards there is a dotted box for a stamp and three lines for the address.

The “twin regime” would appear to point to that time at the end of the war where there was a regular government in the south of Italy and Mussolini’s Fascist Italian Social Republic in the north.

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1. Hitler and Mussolini around table: He who stops is lost. Hitler: I almost think I shall stop.

2. Hitler with flying penis: The last secret weapon has changed direction.

3. Hitler and Mussolini with Moroccans: The promised prize to the people of Morocco. Hitler to Mussolini: Now it is your turn.

4. Hitler and Mussolini with two women: They take new pre-arranged positions.

5. Mussolini looking at pornographic pictures: Fascist headquarters, Clarella: keep quiet the Duce is examining new positions.

6. Mussolini performing oral sex on a woman: The war that I prefer.

7. Mussolini performing oral sex on a woman while Hitler watches: The Corruptors of Europe.

8. Hitler pointing at a woman’s naked behind, seeming to indicate that it is not fair that she has a bigger “ass” than he is: Unloyal competition!

9. A woman performing oral sex on Mussolini: Historical meeting – Encouraging arts, talking with his inspirer.

10. Hitler as a prostitute near a lamppost, perhaps imitating Lili Marlene as a soldier walks by: Who wants me?

Heinrich Himmler

There are not many American strategic leaflets that attack and vilify Heinrich Himmler. There are a number of tactical leaflets, those that were prepared at the front to be used against German forces directly opposite the American troops. Leaflets coded CT were prepared by the United States First Army for use against German soldiers on the Western front in 1944 and 1945. Several of these leaflets depict Himmler. CT-10 and CT-16 shows Himmler, Hitler and Goebbels dropping war material into a big pot. The pot is cracked and the materials are falling out through the hole in the bottom. The text points out that there are no reserves to be thrown into the battle against the Americans.

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CT-36

Leaflet CT-36 depicts Himmler covering a portrait of Hitler with one hand while holding Goering down with the other. He crushes a relief map of Germany beneath his feet. The text is:

Three Leaders…No Reich

The text of the back of the leaflet implies that Hitler is missing and that Himmler is taking over. This served two purposes. It could destroy the morale of the Wehrmacht who might believe that the SS leader had led a coup, and it might damage Himmler in the eyes of a jealous Hitler. Some of the text is:

Where is Hitler?

We only know that on 9 November, not Hitler but Himmler delivered the “celebration speech.”

We only know that not Hitler, but Himmler issued the proclamation for the formation of the Volkssturm.

We only know that not Hitler, but Himmler accepted the oath of allegiance of the Volkssturm.

Perhaps your officers can explain if you are still bound by your oath of allegiance to Hitler in spite of the fact that nobody can answer your question:

Where is Hitler?

CT-44 depicted Himmler placing a casket inscribed “130,000 lost” under a Christmas tree and the text:

Himmler’s Christmas gift for the German People

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Himmler, Hitler’s Bloodhound

The Russians also attacked Heinrich Himmler in a leaflet and depicted him carrying a pair of hangmen's nooses and a large set of pincers holding a human hand. The title of the card is "Himmler, Hitler's Bloodhound." Propaganda text on the back is a parody of a German anti-British song, "The Song of the Liars." The text is:

Hangman Himmler

To Hitler's War and Murder League,
Belongs too the Reich Superbig.
He supervises race purity,
and makes whores out of German women.

His black Corps begets upon command,
new men for Hitler's Blitzkrieg hell.

While he guides the Gestapo,
and tortures, murders, burns and hangs.

Even if you are well disguised,
you will not succeed.
When Michel catches you,
you will get a noose around your neck.

So Himmler, do watch out,
for misfortune often arrives by night.
The crock goes to the water only,
until it breaks. Then it is enough.

German soldiers: How long will you tolerate the murder and terror regime of Hitler, Himmler and pals? Finish off that bunch that has brought war, need and desperation to the German people! Make an end to the war. Motto: Home!

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OSS Berne leaflet 310

This Office of Strategic Services "black" propaganda leaflet was produced by the Americans in Berne, Switzerland. The origin is indicated by a block "310" on the text side which is the way that leaflets were archived and stored by the OSS in Berne. On the picture side the leaflet depicts Himmler as a butcher with a bloody apron and meat cleaver. In the background a wounded and tattered Nazi says "Heil Himmler." The title of the leaflet is, "The war continues!" The text asks, "What then?" It lists anti-war tactics that the average German can use and mentions three types of sabotage. It ends "Those are your weapons!  So that the war can be shortened." 

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Putsch Stamp

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British Parody
Hitler Putsch

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Winterhilfe Parody

The British produced several propaganda postage stamps defaming Himmler. Four parodies were created in an attempt to embarrass the Reichsführer SS or cause him problems with the nazi leadership. Above; we show two of the more interesting parodies and one genuine German postage stamp that was used as the basis of the first fake. The Psychological Warfare Executive produced the "Hitler Putsch" parody based on a genuine 1944 red Hitler Putsch stamp that depicted an eagle fighting a three-headed snake with the text, "Commemorate 9 November 1923." The parody was redesigned by the British to depict Himmler and a manacled civilian male who represents Germany in the chains of Fascism. Himmler is sneaking up behind the handcuffed man and about to shackle his feet. The text has been changed to "Commemorate 30 January 1933," the date that Adolf Hitler became Chancellor.

The second British product is not an imitation of an existing German stamp. Instead, it pretends to be one of the German Winterhilfe (Winterhelp) charity stamps that were annually produced in Germany to raise funds for the poor, or to send warm clothes to German soldiers on the Eastern front. The vignette depicts Himmler holding a pistol in one hand and a collection box in the other. Instead of the Winterhilfswerk symbol (WHW), the box shows a skull and crossbones. The British imply that contributions are being used to promote death, not warmth in the winter. The money goes to the Nazi bigwigs, not to the poor or the needy soldiers.

The image was first used on a set of five gummed propaganda labels produced in November 1942 and coded H235B by the PWE. They were also produced as decals with a set of instructions on cleaning the surface, wetting the decal, and pressing on a wall, window, or mirror.

The facsimile postage stamp was produced in January 1943. 10,000 stamp booklets with two different panes of ten Himmler stamps and ten "face shot off" stamps were delivered to the Special Operations Executive on 7 and 8 January. The PWE code is H292.

Although these are in the form of postage stamps, they were never meant to be used on the mail. They are part of a "pin-prick" campaign where anti-Nazi stickers, labels, and posters were placed in public areas where people might congregate to encourage resistance against the Nazi regime.

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Göring the Executioner

The Soviets also printed a leaflet entitled "Göring the Executioner." The photomontage showed him holding an axe and wearing a bloody butcher's apron while the Reichstag burns in the background. The German Parliament (Reichstag) was burnt down on 27 February 1933. A dazed Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe was found at the scene and charged with arson after his admission that he set the fire as a form of protest. He was later found guilty and executed for the crime. President Hindenburg and Chancellor Hitler invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which permitted the suspension of civil liberties in time of national emergency. The Nazis used the fire as an excuse to authorize the creation of the SA (Storm Troops) and SS (Special Security) Federal police agencies. The emergency powers enabled the Nazis to ruthlessly suppress opposition in the upcoming election. In the March national elections the Nazis won a 44% plurality in the Reichstag. Herman Göring then declared that there was no further need for State governments. There has always been a question of about the guilt of the Dutch communist. Was he guilty, or used as a convenient stooge? The head of the SA in Berlin, Karl Ernst, allegedly answered when asked if the Nazis set the fire, "If I said Yes, I'd be a bloody fool, if I said no I'd be a bloody liar." Whatever the truth of the matter, there is no question that the Nazis used the fire and the resultant outcry to gain complete control of Germany.

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AIZ Cover

Curiously, although this image was depicted on a Soviet leaflet, the actual artist was the German Communist Helmut Herzfeld. He changed his name to John Heartfield in 1916 in protest against German nationalism. For 15 years he produced designs and posters for the German Communist party. His politically charged photomontages were banned in his home country during the Nazi regime. He fled to Czechoslovakia in 1933. Heartfield produced dozens of anti-Nazi images and the Göring photomontage appears to have been first published as the cover of the magazine AIZ (Arbeiter –Illustrierte Zeitung) in 1933. Heartfield spent WWII in exile in Great Britain.

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Herman Göring manufacturing death

The Soviets disseminated this leaflet with the text: "Herman Göring Work!" The intent of this leaflet is to infer that  just as Göring's factories are responsible for manufacturing supplies for the war, his other factory (work) output is responsible for the death of millions of Germans soldiers. 

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Front Illustrated – May 1942

The Russian airdropped propaganda newspaper Front Illustrierte of May 1942 depicted Hermann Göring holding piles of cash while a widow and child are in the background holding her dead husband’s “death card.” The text with the photomontage is:

Göring’s income is bought with soldier’s blood and widow’s tears!

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Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbles

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Goebbels the Adulterer

Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was quite the ladies man. He was in charge of film-making in the Third Reich and used his position to bed many young starlets. He owned a hideaway villa called Waldhof estate, set in woodlands 40 kilometers north of Berlin where he invited a string of film starlets to the casting couch, including his mistress the Czech actress Lida Baarová. Goebbels is said to have asked Hitler’s permission to leave the Nazi Party and divorce his wife Magda for his beautiful mistress, but the Fuehrer rejected the request. Other glamorous visitors included the Third Reich actresses Zarah Leander and Marika Rökk.

Apparently his reputation was well known by the OSS in Berne. They prepared this black leaflet depicting the little club-footed minister with a starlet on his lap. The text is:

The war is not bad for Goebbels
He is looking for a star for a film
That in which others bleed to death
He busies himself with hookers

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Goebbels depicted as a monkey

The Soviets attacked Reich Minister for Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment and Reichskulturkammer (President, German Culture Chamber) Joseph Goebbles with a leaflet that depicted him as a monkey with a long tail speaking into a microphone. The photomontage was prepared for leaflet 862 by Alexander Shitomirski. The Soviets printed 200,000 copies of this leaflet on 15 February 1942. Text on the leaflet is:

Goebbels: Every German must now consider it his elementary political duty not to ask when this war will be over.

The USSR printed a heavily-illustrated propaganda newspaper for the German Wehrmacht entitled Front-Illustrierte für den Deutschen Soldaten (Front-Illustrated for the German Soldier) from 1941 to 1945. In general, the newspaper attacked Nazi leaders and depicted scenes of frozen German dead and happy prisoners-of-war. Twelve issues were published in 1941 starting in July, thirty-two issues in 1942, Twenty-nine issues in 1943, nineteen issues in 1944, and five issues in 1945 ending with the April issue.

Some of the newspaper front pages that attack and ridicule the Nazi leaders in 1942 are; January - where a small Hitler is depicted with a Napoleonic hat, February - where Himmler is shown with a bloody hammer, May - where Hitler is depicted in front of a group of skeletons dressed in Army uniforms, June - where Hitler is shown standing on a pile of bloody death cards of his German soldiers, July - where Hitler is depicted as a vulture on a heap of German dead, and September - where Goebbels is depicted as a rat on a pile of German bodies.

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British Parody Stamp Depicting Pierre Laval as a Demon

On one occasion the British attacked a leader of the French collaborationist government working with the Germans. Henri Philippe Pétain, (1856-1951), was a French general who was honored as a national hero for his defense of Verdun during World War I. He led the collaborationist French government during WWII. Named Premier on 16 June 1940, he requested an armistice on the 17th. On 11 July he declared himself "head of state." As President of France, he selected collaborationist Pierre Laval as his Premier. By 1942, Laval had won the trust of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and the elderly Pétain became merely a figurehead in the Vichy regime. After the end of the war, General Pétain was sentenced to death by a French court. General De Gaulle immediately commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Laval was not so lucky. He escaped to Spain but was expelled. He went into hiding in Austria, where he finally surrendered to American authorities in late July 1945. Extradited to France, Laval was convicted of treason by the High Court of Justice and condemned to death. He was executed on 15 October 1945.

Because he was revered as a national hero by many Frenchmen, the Allied propagandists did not attack Pétain personally. Instead, they targeted Laval as an evil manipulator who somehow convinced a foolish old man to favor the Germans. The British produced one propaganda parody for France. They retouched a genuine 30 centimes 1941-1943 red stamp depicting General Pétain. A sinister Pierre Laval was drawn in behind Pétain, whispering in his ear to lead him astray. The parody was probably produced about November/December 1942.

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British label attacking Vidkun Quisling

Laval was not the only Collaboration leader vilified by the Allies. The British also attacked Vidkun Quisling, the pro-Nazi founder of the Norwegian fascist party Nasjonal Samling. I first wrote about these propaganda labels in the Society of Philatelic American Journal of July 1967, “More ominous in its implications is another label, a parody of a 30-ore stamp with a portrait of the infamous collaborator, Vidkun Quisling, made to look a bit like Adolf Hitler and with a hangman’s noose around his neck. The caption is, ‘Quisling’s conduct has brought him disgrace and contempt’.” The denomination on the stamp is “30 stk SOLV” which means 30 pieces of silver, an allusion to Judas betraying Christ. The label was one of a set of four produced by the British Department Electra House (EH) in mid-1941 with the internal code EH-N-811, and sometimes called “the Norwegian stamp collection.” Four of the Quisling labels were printed on a sheet that also has the text, “Number 4. Issue in competition with Norwegian postage stamps. Three more issues will follow by airmail.” The British implied that the designs were some kind of postage stamp design contest. Quisling was an early fascist and had attempted to gain German help for a coup early in his career. On 9 April 1940, the day the Germans invaded Norway, he proclaimed himself head of state. Although his party never gained more than 2% of the votes, with the help of the Germans he led a puppet government to the end of the war. He was arrested, sentenced to death for treason and executed on 24 November 1945.

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Anti-Quisling magazine cover

Sometimes the Norwegian patriots produced anti-Quisling images. The media were subject to strict censorship, and many journalists quit their jobs as a protest. Some remained at work and protested through hidden messages. This one on the front cover of a monthly family magazine is quite famous. The cover depicts a small child who looks like Quisling, and the father appears to be Adolf Hitler trying to teach his son to stand on his own. Allegedly, this image was quite obvious, and the magazine’s editor was arrested and sent to a concentration camp.

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Finnish Marshal Carl von Mannerheim

The Soviets attacked enemies other than the Germans. They produced one propaganda postcard for use against Finland in winter 1942. This was a double-postcard that could be separated to make two cards. The propaganda is in regard to the hunger of the Finnish people, aligned with Nazi Germany in the war against the USSR. The first postcard depicts a Christmas dinner. A pig is on a plate decorated with fruit. The text is “A nice Christmas,” and “Every family will get Christmas bacon in 1942 if…” The second card shows the pig with the head of Finnish Marshal Carl von Mannerheim. The text is, “A good New Year,” and “…when this pig’s neck is broken.” Mannerheim was the commander of the Finnish armed forces during the Finnish-Russian War. He was appointed President of Finland in 1944.

Axis Vilification of Allied Leaders

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Genuine Photo

Churchill inspecting a Soldier's weapon

 

Although this article discusses the Allied vilification of Axis leaders, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Axis also attacked the Allied leaders. The Germans regularly attacked British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and called him "that old Jew." One of their most famous propaganda leaflets shows "Winnie" holding a Thompson submachine gun. The picture was a genuine photograph taken to boost the morale of the British people in the early years of the war. It visually assured them that their nation was building and importing modern weaponry to fight the Axis. The Germans reproduced the photograph and used in on propaganda leaflets and posters to personally attack Churchill as a criminal and thug who was acting outside the laws of warfare.

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Churchill "WANTED" leaflet

The October 1940 leaflet depicts Churchill with cigar and bowler hat holding the "Tommygun." Text at the top of the leaflet in English is "WANTED," and at the bottom, "for incitement to MURDER." The back of the leaflet is all text, "This gangster, who you see in his element in the picture, incites you by his example to participate in a form of warfare in which women, children and ordinary citizens shall take the leading parts. This absolutely criminal form of warfare which is forbidden by the Hague Convention will be punished according to military law. Save at least your own families from the horrors of war!"

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German Officer inspects Churchill leaflet

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German soldier preparing Churchill leaflets for balloon launch

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Churchill the Sniper

The Germans also produced a 1941 poster that depicts the Prime Minister in an alley holding the Thomson with the German text, "Sniper."

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Jewish Arsonist

The Germans often tried to convince the world that the war was a Jewish plot rather than an attempt by Hitler to conquer Europe. At various times they called Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin Jews. In the above leaflet dropped on the Russians, a thuggish Winston Churchill wears a “Star of David” and holds a bomb which he is about to throw at a burning city, church and hospital. The text is:

Jewish Arsonist

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German depiction of "Roosevelt as Death"

The Germans sometimes attacked American President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In a 1944 leaflet used on the Italian front they depicted Roosevelt as "Death," with a skeleton's body holding a scythe. A long line of American troops walks past the figure toward their death. The text, a quote from a prewar Roosevelt speech is, "I assure you again and again and again that no American boys will be sacrificed on foreign battlefields. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Oct. 31, 1940." The Nazis conveniently forget to mention the Japanese attack on the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor, and the fact that Adolf Hitler declared war on the United states shortly afterwards.

The leaflet was produced by the Propaganda-Abschnitts-Offizier Italien. Most of the German "AI" leaflets for Italy were printed in Berlin, others in Italy, presumably at a printing plant in Verona. The Roosevelt leaflet appears in both a large size, coded AI-033-2-44 and a miniature size coded AI-034-2-44.

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“Pistol-packing” Churchill and Roosevelt Postcard

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Churchill and Roosevelt Poster

The Italian fascists also prepared propaganda parodies attacking Roosevelt and Churchill during WWII. This image was originally designed by Gino Boccasile as a 1944 postcard and depicted “pistol-packing” Churchill and Roosevelt over city wreckage and dead children with a pirate flag in the background. The title of the card was “Su loro ricade la colpa” which can be translated as “The fault falls on them.” The image was later used on a wall poster.

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Japanese "The Spectre Commands" leaflet

The Japanese attacked Roosevelt on several occasions. In one divide-and-conquer leaflet they tried to convince the Australians that they were being sacrificed by the American President. Roosevelt is shown as a figure of death, wrapped in a black robe with greenish skin. Beneath him an Australian soldier is shown bleeding to death with an American flag driven through his stomach. Text on the leaflet is, "The spectre commands - Thou shall go Americans, and eat the Australians out of their homes if necessary...The Americans will fight to the last Australian." The Japanese printed a number of similar leaflets, often depicting American troops having sex with Aussie wives and girlfriends while their men were at the front.

 

Joel V. Berreman mentions the Japanese attitude toward Roosevelt in a 1948 article published in the American Journal of Sociology entitled, "Assumptions about America in Japanese War Propaganda to the United States." Some of the author’s comments are:

One of the heaviest and most persistent of lines was the personal attacks on President Roosevelt. He was depicted as a tyrant, a dictator over the American people. He falsified war news to deceive the people. The war guilt was placed squarely on his shoulders. He planned war on Japan long before Pearl Harbor.

 

Tokyo frequently became abusive and sarcastic. He was called "a paralytic cripple" with a "warped brain."

 

At times these personal attacks seem bitter enough to constitute nothing more than ill-tempered jibes at the man whom they recognized as perhaps the most effective leader among their enemies.

 

If they had any serious propaganda purpose, however, it could have been based only on the belief that Roosevelt had a potential opposition in America, which could be aroused or encouraged by such methods.

 

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Roosevelt Killing and bleeding the Chinese people

 

This WWII Japanese leaflet used in China depicts President Roosevelt killing and bleeding the Chinese people while their women and starving children look on.

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The Japanese also attacked Churchill in leaflets to the Indians. The leaflet vilifies Churchill as a spider with a bag of gold.

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Now is not the time for infighting

This leaflet attacks Winston Churchill and depicts him as a demon. He is in the background and holds two Indians in his hands. The Indian on the left is identified as a member of the Muslim League and the one on the right is a member of the Indian National Congress. The text at the top is:

Now is not the time for infighting

The text at the bottom is:

The British policy of divide and rule

 

Conclusion

 

This concludes our study of the various propaganda leaflets, labels and postcards vilifying the leaders of the Axis powers and their collaborators in WWII. It is apparent that the personal attacks on these leaders were usually "black propaganda," that gave no clue as to the originator. As we stated earlier, the policy of the Allied nations is generally not to use such personal attacks as a theme on white propaganda. During the Korean War, there were few such attacks, although there were implications on some leaflets that Chinese Chairman Mao Tse-tung or Russian Secretary General Josef Stalin were using the North Korean Army as cannon fodder for their personal vendettas against the West. The United States did not attack North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War, although it did sometimes depict Mao Tse-Tung as pushing the North Vietnamese troops to the front. In the more recent wars, U.S. PSYOP specialists continued to follow the policy. Curiously, Saddam Hussein has never been attacked and vilified as a monster, although he has been depicted in some unpleasant poses or with unhappy facial expressions. In Afghanistan, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has been depicted with a death’s-head and as a spider, and Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban has been depicted as a "kuchi," a mongrel dog. However, these images were more comical or in the form of symbolism than true vilification. The "nasty" propaganda will not come from the U.S. Army or the 4th PSYOP Group; it will come from the Central Intelligence Agency or some other organization working secretly in the background. We will know them by their works.

There were many more leaflets, postcards and posters used during the war to vilify the enemy leaders of WWII. The author is always interested in hearing about others. Interested readers are encouraged to write to him at sgmbert@hotmail.com.

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