World War II political cartoons

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Low's cartoon Rendezvous

Political cartoons produced during World War II by both Allied and Axis powers commented upon the events, personalities and politics of the war. Governments used them for propaganda and public information.[dubious ] Individuals expressed their own political views and preferences.


During World War II, every major military power had propaganda offices that employed political cartoons to influence public opinion.[1]


Dr. Seuss's cartoon Waiting for the Signal from Home

Before the outbreak of war in Europe, Germany and the Soviet Union formed a pact to divide the intervening buffer zones between them, and started with the conquest of Poland. The New Zealand cartoonist, David Low, produced a famous cartoon about this for the Evening Standard which appeared on 20 September 1939. It ridiculed the way in which the relationship of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin had changed from bitter enmity to courteous cooperation.[2]

Arthur Szyk received recognition for his political cartoons during World War II. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt called him a "one-man army." Adolf Hitler even put a price on his head. [3]

Dr. Seuss worked in an animation department of the U.S. Army, where he drew more than 400 political cartoons [4] He published many political cartoons against Hitler and Mussolini, as well as Americans who were against American involvement.[5] His cartoon, titled Waiting for the Signal From Home, published shortly before Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Japanese American internment, and depicting West Coast Asians preparing dynamite attacks, was described by Donald Dewey as "particularly tasteless",[6] and historian Richard Minear, in Dr. Seuss Goes to War (1999), criticised Dr Seuss's wartime cartoons and suggested that "racism was an ingredient in much if not all American wartime thinking about Japan."[7]

The Punch cartoonist Fougasse produced a series of cartoons which the British Ministry of Information used on posters. These included a series to illustrate the slogan, Careless talk costs lives.[8]

In the Soviet Union the style of cartooning was savage and unsubtle[citation needed]. Cartoons appeared in the satirical magazine, Krokodil. The byline "Kukryniksy" labeled the especially famous work of three artists, Mikhail Kupriyanov, Porfiri Krylov and Nikolai Sokolov, who worked together.[9]

Vincent Krassousky, a Kiev-born émigré, produced pro-Nazi comics in occupied Paris.[10] The French-language comic-strip series "Marc le Téméraire" [Marc the Bold] (1943) conveyed anti-communist and anti-English messages through the deeds of a collaborationist member of the Vichy Milice.[11]

In contrast to official government-sponsored propaganda, German-occupied Europe also produced resistance cartoons mocking the new order.[12]

Italian cultural imperialism[edit]

During World War II Italy projected its culture into areas which it occupied in the Balkans - including the use of children's comics in Croatian and in Italian.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Müge Göçek, Fatma (1998). Political Cartoons in the Middle East: Cultural Representations in the Middle East. Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 6. ISBN 1-55876-156-X. 
  2. ^ David Culbert (2003), "Cartoons", Propaganda and mass persuasion: a historical encyclopedia, 1500 to the present, p. 66, ISBN 978-1-57607-820-4 
  3. ^ Chicago Sun-Times August 14, 1998
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Dewey, Donald (2007). The Art of Ill Will. New York: New York University Press. p. 54. ISBN 0-8147-1985-6. 
  7. ^ Boyd, Brian (2009). On the Origin of Stories. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 335. ISBN 0-674-03357-4. 
  8. ^ James Taylor (2010), Careless Talk Costs Lives: Fougasse & the Art of Public Information, Conway, ISBN 978-1-84486-129-3 
  9. ^ Norman Davies (2007), "Cartoons", Europe at War 1939-1945, pp. 445–446, ISBN 978-0-330-35212-3 
  10. ^ Alaniz, José (2010). Komiks: comic art in Russia. University Press of Mississippi. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-60473-366-2. Another major figure of the Russian comics diaspora is its most controversial: Vincent Krassousky, an émigré to France who worked on the pro-Nazi children's journal La Téméraire during the German occupation of World War II. [...H]is recurring character Vica (a Popeye-type sailor) mocked and excoriated England, America, the Bolsheviks, and 'Jewish conspiracies.' 
  11. ^ Tufts, Clare (2008). "Re-imaging Heroes / Rewriting History: Pictures and Texts in Children's Newspapers in France, 1939-45". In McKinney, Mark. History and politics in French language comics and graphic novels. University Press of Mississippi. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-60473-004-3. Retrieved 2011-06-24. Le Téméraire [...] ran a number of strips in which the paper's ideology was treated with realism ('Marc le Téméraire'), futuristically ('Vers les mondes inconnus'), or in a humorous way ('Vica' and 'Le Docteur Fulminate et le professeur Vorax'). [...] 'Marc le Téméraire,' the only realistic strip of the paper, followed the efforts of Milice members Marc and Paul working with the Germans to rout out Soviet spies. 
  12. ^ For example: Klempner, Mark (2006). The heart has reasons: Holocaust rescuers and their stories of courage. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-8298-1699-0. Retrieved 2011-06-23. We put out several books of political cartoons, making fun of Hitler and Nazism. For instance, one cartoon depicted German soldiers overrunning the Netherlands. [...] It wasn't difficult to sell that book, or any of the other things. People didn't have much to buy during the German occupation, so, in that way, at least, it was an opportune time to ask them to open their wallets. 
  13. ^ Rodogno, Davide (2006). Fascism's European empire: Italian occupation during the Second World War. New studies in European history (reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-521-84515-1. Retrieved 2011-06-26. The Italians attempted cultural penetration in Croatia [...] Rome sent [...] children's comics (for instance Za Vas Djeco [Croatian: For you kids] and Giornalino per la gioventu[Italian: Magazine for youth], which were distributed in Dalmatia and Croatia [...] 


  • Barry D. Rowland (1990), Herbie and friends: cartoons in wartime, ISBN 978-0-920474-52-5 
  • Mark Bryant (2009), Illingworth's War in Cartoons: One Hundred of His Greatest Drawings 1939-1945, ISBN 978-1-906502-54-6 
  • Mark Bryant (2005), World War II in cartoons, ISBN 978-1-904943-06-8 
  • David Low, Quincy Howe (1946), Years of wrath: a cartoon history: 1931-1945, Simon and Schuster 

External links[edit]