A Pile of Donated Christmas Presents Destined for US Troops
This photo from 1917 shows a “Christmas Box Hospital” where boxes containing gifts for U.S. troops donated by the general public were repaired before being shipped to the front line troops. Here we see a pile of boxes containing Christmas gifts awaiting inspection and repair. Statistics from the United States Committee on Public Information indicates that about 11,000 boxes arrived in poor condition and needed to be repaired.
Collection drives for necessities and luxury items for the soldiers were important propaganda tools, helping to maintain the morale of the troops and also create a sense of solidarity between the soldiers and civilians on the homefront.
A 1917 German propaganda poster depicting Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg. Below is a quote from Hindenberg in which he assures the German people that the Rhine river will never be crossed by the enemy as long as the Army and the Navy work together. The title of the poster reads: On His 70th birthday.
In fact, the Rhine was not crossed by the Allies during World War 1 until after the German surrender. Despite its defeat, all fighting took place outside the national territory of Germany. However by the time of the German armistice Germany’s ability to carry on the war effort was at an end, and collapse was imminent. The Allies were preparing for a final, deep penetration into the heart of Germany and the German armed forces could offer little resistance. However the fact that Germany surrendered while its armies were still on French soil led to the myth, later exploited by Hitler, that Germany had been betrayed and could have fought on.
This French propaganda poster from 1918 shows a massive French tank literally crushing German soldiers under its tracks. The caption reads: “Subscribe and We Shall Have Victory!” The goal of the poster is to get people to subscribe to the National Loan of 1918.
Campaigns such as this were essential to raise money to fight the extremely costly war. Citizens were encouraged to buy war bonds as a patriotic duty, and were promised that is they contributed money, victory would come at last.
I find this poster interesting for the blunt way in which it makes the connection between your contribution of money and the death of German soldiers. There is absolutely nothing subtle about the message, and the fact that it would be socially acceptable to “sell” the bonds in this way, says much about public sentiment about the war and their adversaries after 4 long years of slaughter.
The poster is also noteworthy for its depiction of the latest tank as a symbol of coming victory. During world war 1, the British and the French both fielded large tank formations which succeeded in doing a great deal of damage to the German front lines by breaking through German trenches. The tanks promised to end the stalemate of trench warfare and restore mobility to the battlefield.
The Germans also attempted to develop a tank force of their own but their designs were not as successful and very few machines were produced. For the most part the Germans relied on captured allied tanks that they restored and put back into service.