Advertising Used During World War II Affecting Us Today

In the year 1939, one of the the largest genocide attacks known to history began to take place in Germany under the control of Adolf Hitler. This was only possible because of the German Nazi’s use of propaganda that encouraged people to believe that what they were doing was the right thing to do. Many people before and during World War II used propaganda just as the German’s did, but it usually was not to support efforts that would impact people in a bad way. Today, it is a type of advertising that is often assumed to be negative in some way because of the affiliation that it had with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. It is not anyones fault that many perceive it that way, however, people tend to associate the use of propaganda and Nazi’s and therefore the mass genocide, which is not an enjoyable memory. The use of propaganda with a negative outcome in World War II by the German Nazi’s, has greatly influenced the use of propaganda that is used in the world today and the implications that it supplies.

Some of the speeches given by Joseph Goebell, a Nazi during World War II, are specifically rich with the propaganda that had such negative effects on the world. His speech, “Knowledge and Propaganda,” given on January 9, 1928 is rich with examples of propaganda and its use .(Goebbel, Joseph. "Knowledge and Propaganda (1928)." Knowledge and Propaganda (1928). Calvin, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <>). This speech goes into detail about what he and the Nazi party thought of propaganda and how it supplied people with knowledge, hence the title. In this speech he says, “The greater and simpler the idea is, the more it relates to daily life, the more one has the desire to tell everyone about it.” The great and simple idea that the Nazi’s had was, Jews are bad and caused all of their problems and as a result, they should all be killed. Since the whole of Germany was struggling economically and was in major debt, the idea that it was someone else's fault that they were in a slump was easy for them to accept. They were all under the same circumstances and as a result, their mindsets were similar and this idea was simple enough, so everyone believed it was true and as a result, the best thing for their struggling country. The idea itself has a negative output and most Germans understood that and accepted the fact that they would be killing millions of people. Therefore, any propaganda that advertised this idea was negative and since it was used so often, propaganda having a bad outcome became normal to most people. This ‘normal’ even traveled from applying to only the people in Germany, to the people in America always viewing propaganda as a negative form of advertisement.

More currently though, there have been articles written about propaganda today and how it is used. One for example is by Mike Adams, The Health Ranger titled, “CVS pharmacy promotes flu shot propaganda using life-sized grim reapers.” (Adams, Mike. "CVS Pharmacy Promotes Flu Shot Propaganda Using Life-sized Grim Reapers." NaturalNews. NaturalNews, 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <>). It goes on to talk about how the Influenza vaccination is experimental on each person who takes it and that it does not always have a positive effect on people. I found it surprising that this advertisement was called propaganda, but compared to the use of propaganda by the Nazis, it is a form of advertising that would have a negative impact, just as their propaganda was. In this case, the negative impact was scaring people. To show this straight from the article, “A CVS pharmacy is promoting flu shots using images of the Grim Reaper, the most widely-recognized symbol of death.” Since the vaccine can cause illness to anyone who gets it, the CVS is making sure that the people getting the vaccine, know it can be dangerous. It is mildly contradictory however, because it is trying to influence you to get a shot that could help protect you or even save you, but getting the vaccine could get you very sick or in the worst case scenario, kill you. This goes to prove my thesis, that since the German’s wild use of negatively impacting propaganda, in order for a piece of advertising to be classified as a piece of propaganda, it has to have a negative connotation or express a negative outcome. Also, the title of the article implies negativity with the use of the word propaganda and Grim Reaper, again, supporting my thesis .

Only since World War II has propaganda been associated with negativity, and even more specifically, since the German’s use if it. Before it was manipulated into its pessimistic ways, it was often used positively. Even up to, and during World War II, the American’s used it positively, even with the war efforts. There is a pamphlet that was created in 1944 called, “What is Propaganda?” by The American Historical Society that explains the purpose of propaganda and what is was during 1944. (American Historical Society. What Is Propaganda? Washington D.C.: American Historical Society, 1944. Healthyinfluence. G.C. Marshall. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <>.) In the chapter labeled, The Story of Propaganda, it speaks of how propaganda was used before the time of World War II, but it was not known to be a negative form of advertising. “Nobody would make the mistake of assuming that it is new if, from early times, efforts to mobilize attitudes and opinions had actually been called “propaganda,””What is Propaganda?” reads. Before World War II, propaganda had not been used in this negative light, which is what caused many people to believe that ‘propaganda’ was a new term. This only goes to prove that the Nazi’s use of propaganda was what made it so well-known and caused it to be affiliated with negative outcomes.

Advertising is how we get the greater majority of our ideas across to other people, but we don’t want to always use the same form of advertising because it can get old and boring. Advertising is part of our everyday lives. However, the use of propaganda with a negative outcome in World War II by the German Nazi’s, has greatly influenced the use of propaganda that is used in the world today and the implications that it supplies. Therefore, we do not use it as much as we would if it was not used in this way during World War II.

Comments (5)

Joshua Berg (Student 2016)
Joshua Berg

This is a biased source. Maybe that was the point and this all just went over my head. That being said, it is sort of problematic (and ironic) to used a biased source for a paper about bias.

Veronica Nocella (Student 2016)
Veronica Nocella

I really like how you distinctly explain the influences World War II propaganda has on today's advertisements. You made a lot of really insightful parallels between the two. However next time you write an essay like this, you should probably use in-text citations and have a work cited page. The URL's in the paper were kinda clumsy and awkward.

Tobi Hahn (Student 2016)
Tobi Hahn

This is a great essay, but I don't think it's necessarily fair to associate the CVS advertisement with Nazi propaganda. Not being vaccinated is even more dangerous than being vaccinated - in fact, there is significant proof that there are no risks to being vaccinated. The source you used about the CVS advertisement is rather biased in this respect, as it promotes homeopathy. Because of this, it is in its advantage to say that vaccines are harmful.