Adolf Hitler was a cruel dictator who ruled Germany during the Second World War (1939 - 1945). His ideas and actions were highly criticised which sparked rebellion and campaigning against him. During the Second World War, the countries which opposed Germany required more military support (soldiers). Propaganda campaigns were released during this time to encourage citizens to fight for their country and to stand up to the German leader. Being portrayed as such a cruel man enabled Hitler's actions to be easily exploited to encourage soldiers to join the army and fight against him, and to encourage the rest of the world to become what is known as 'Anti Hitler'.
In order to create a negative attitude towards Adolf Hitler, propagandists during the 1930s used humour to make him appear weak and powerless. Caricature artists are some of the most famous for achieving this. During his reign, Hitler used fear to not only scare his enemies but also to scare his own army into war.
For Germany's enemies to promote war under these circumstances, they needed to eliminate any trace of fear. They did this through humour by mocking Hitler to take away his intimidating attitude, ultimately making him "look like a fool". An example of this can be seen in source one by an unknown artist. The poster is made to convey Hitler as foolish but at the same time, holds a message encouraging soldiers to keep battling by giving them hope and increasing their morale. Humour as a propaganda technique has the ability to bring down some of the most built up individuals. It helps to convey the message that the enemy is weak and foolish which says that they are easy to destroy. This is characteristic of 'Anti Hitler' propaganda during World War Two.
Propaganda during the war frequently used the technique 'plain folks' whereby the propagandist attempts to win the confidence of the viewer, by communicating in a common manner relative to a specific cultural context. The text "keep 'em firing!" from source one is a good example of this. The selection of words by the propagandist displays colloquial language used to persuade the viewer to fight for their country. It gives them the feeling that they are joining an army alongside a list of friends who are confident, normal, everyday people. The 'plain folks' technique also aims at reducing the fear and anxiety of going to war by losing the sense of formality and pressure. The target audience for a 'plain folks influenced' campaign such as the one featured as source one, is highly influenced by the values and attitudes of the population. For example, in Australia and America the poster may be more successful than in other countries such as France or Indonesia due to a greater exposure to 'slang' or informal language. With a lack of exposure, France and Indonesia will therefore value it less and may find it less appealing to them. The 'plain folks' technique, although not contributing directly to the campaign, assists in the ability to convey the original message that Hitler is evil and that his death is the ultimate prize, thus endorsing people to become 'Anti Hitler'.
Propagandists used satire to undermine Hitler's power and to contradict the original message put forward by the dictator. An example of a person who used this technique is the German photomontage artist John Heartfield. He was a supporter of communism and stood strongly against Hitler's rulings. In doing this, it forced him to continually relocate to fulfil his dreams of exposing Hitler. From 1932 to 1934 after the national socialists came to power in Germany, Heartfield released a series of art works. One of the most famous of these was 'Blood and Iron' (source two) which displays Heartfield's representation of the swastika as Hitler's way of saying that "the military was all Germany needed for success". He did this by replacing the swastika with four axes dripping with blood as a parody of Hitler's national and most recognised symbol. Heartfeild's opinion is conveyed through art in a simple but hard-hitting way, it enables the viewer to understand his attitudes and feelings, and it affects the viewer's perception of Hitler by creating negative connotations (weapons and blood) which form a negative representation (evil). This is an act of 'demonising the enemy' where by Hitler's values do not relate to the values of what is considered to be 'good' or 'just' in society. The cultural context of the people who opposed Hitler did not share similar values and therefore disagreed with his attitudes. This was seen clearly at the time of the Holocaust when Hitler committed genocide and killed millions of Jewish people. This act was disgraceful and frowned upon by the rest of the world. The Propaganda which was released after the Holocaust targeted the values of the world and said that mass murder is neither a resolution nor an excusable act. John Heartfield's message that Hitler believed "military was all Germany needed for success", is now exposed as the words of a heartless murderer, one who abuses power in order to fulfil his own pleasures. This work of art and many other works such as "Hurrah the Butter is All Gone!", and "Adolf the Superman" all contribute with similar techniques to turn people against him and become 'Anti Hitler'.
During times of war, propaganda is seen as one of the deadliest weapons, capable of tearing countries and world leaders apart. Successful campaigns are formed when the appropriate techniques are utilised correctly. Over the years since World War Two began in 1939, the 'Anti Hitler' campaign has been bombarded with propaganda from all over the world. Cultural context, including the values and attitudes of the target audience, in comparison to the values and attitudes of Adolf Hitler have been pivotal to its success. The conflicting of these two components is what began the campaign and is what will keep it running for many more years to come.
BIBLIOGRAPHYAnti Hitler Art Work, 2000, http://www.towson.edu/heartfield/art/blood.html, retrieved 10, 12 July 2008.
German Propaganda Archive, 2001, http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/caric.htm , retrieved: 13, 21 July 2008.
Hitler and World War Two, May 13 2004, http://www.historyguide.org/europe/lecture11.html, retrieved 15 July 2008.
Hitler: The Rise of Evil, 2003. Film. Directed by Christian DUGUAY. USA: Alliance AtlantisPropaganda, 22 July 2008, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda, retrieved 13, 17, 21, 22 July 2008.
World War 2, 1998, http://www.anzacday.org.au/history/ww2/ww2main.html, retrieved 15 - 20 July 2008.