Students Ponder Propaganda’s Purpose

Title:  “Destroy This Mad Brute…ENLIST if you want to fight for your country…” 1917

About the image: Poster, “Destroy This Mad Brute…ENLIST if you want to fight for your country…If this war is not fought to a finish in Europe, it will be on the soil of the United States,” 1917. Ad, U.S. Army, World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm II has been turned into a huge, black, insane ape wearing a German spiked helmet labeled “Militarism,” abducting a terrified Columbia for rape, bringing down a bloodied club labeled “KULTUR” on “AMERICA,” and threatening the next victim, the viewer. Blood drenches his hands and wrists. This slobbering beast personifies several other stereotypes, racial ones included. H.R. Hopps poster.

Here’s what Winters High School teacher Courtney Caruso’s 11th- grade students had to say about this image:

Student 1: “This was a poster used in WW1 to encourage people to enlist in the military. It was one of many propaganda forms used at the time. The gorilla-beast represents the enemies, the Central Powers, and the woman represents the innocence being captured by this evil power. It was supposed to invoke a feeling of sympathy towards the innocent women, children, and other civilians, leading to the idea that America was going to protect them.”

Student 2:  “This image has to do with WW1. The “brute” in the poster refers to a combination of several countries known as the Central Powers with Germany as a focus. These countries are portrayed as having “captured” liberty, represented by the woman in the poster. Lady Liberty, representing America, is given a beautiful human form, while the Central Powers are portrayed by a slavering wild beast. It is supposed to turn viewers away from the Central powers and garner support for the war effort on the side of the allies. The Beast is stepping on American land, which makes people shocked and afraid. They wonder if the war will come to their home country, America. This poster represents one of the unfortunate instances of war: both sides view the other as some beast that must be slain, while really, these countries are full of people. They are not monsters. The armies are made of men; they aren’t wild beasts of their own. The people dying have lives, and families, and thoughts, and wants, and needs just like everyone else. Humanity is lost during war, in part due to war propaganda like this.”

Related Topics/Themed Collections: War posters, World War I, Propaganda

Lessons in the Marchand Collection:

  • World War I Propaganda by Kevin Williams, CHSS 11.4.5, IN PRINT – AVAILABLE ONLY IN THE MARCHAND ROOM

Resources Available in the Marchand Collection:

What do your students think about this image?  Click here to let us know.

 

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