Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, February 1, 2016

An Unforgettable Russian Propaganda Poster

In World War One, whole nations and not merely professional armies were in mortal combat. Propaganda was global, with a clear message. Hate the enemy; our cause is just; support our soldiers; unite with our allies. In this pre-radio and television age, posters were one of the most important means of spreading propaganda. Governments invested heavily in posters that grabbed attention, and some of them became symbols of national resolve. 

Click on Image for Full Size
Vrag roda chelovecheskago
[The Enemy of Humankind]

A vital function of the poster was to make the enemy appear savage, barbaric, and inhumane. All the belligerents in World War One employed such atrocity propaganda, using stereotypes largely developed in the period leading up to the outbreak of war. The enemy provides a target for attack to unite the people and offers a scapegoat to diverting attention from problems at home. 

This Russian poster is an example. The enemy of the people is personified by Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859–1941), the last German emperor and king of Prussia, whose policies had contributed to the outbreak of the war. He is caricatured as a cloven-footed, tailed devil, his spiked helmet barely able to conceal his pointed ears, and holding human skulls: an icon of greed, evil, and brutality. 

Found at the British Museum Website


  1. Your posts on the visual aspects of the war are always compelling!

  2. Readers in the area of Minneapolis before March 14, 2016, can see other Russian war posters:

  3. I find myself in the position of wanting to site this in my own world war one blog post. It's interesting how these things can come full circle.

  4. Dave here , sign of our times NOW !!!