Propaganda Postcards
of the Great War


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Introduction.

The site features a collection of war-themed postal cards produced during World War 1 (1914 - 1919).  Some 1,400 cards are displayed in an organized fashion. The cards are mementos of a world at war during the second decade of the 20th century. 
This web-site has been established to provide a tool to students, researchers and postcard collectors with an interest in the period of  World War One in general or "Great War" propaganda in particular. 
These cards are historical artifacts which are not only often beautiful examples of the lithographers art but are also of interest to students of art, military and political history. The site is a creation of two individuals who bring a combined total of 50 years experience as amateur historians  and active collectors. All of the cards pictured in the site are authentic originals. The site is itself a "work in progress" and it will be so for some time!  A significant number of cards are "rare" from a collector's viewpoint and we therefore hope that this increases both the usefulness and interest. We thank you for looking. Enjoy !!
Oh yes, because of the image density, some of the pages may take a bit of time to load. Please be patient, you will  not be disappointed for having waited!

Postcards as important historical artifacts.
In reviewing this site it should be appreciated that these cards were produced in the pre-electronic age. Postal cards were a universal medium of communication at a time when the only avenues of mass communication were printed newspapers, journals, books, posters and the mail. It is therefore proper to consider "mail with a message", which is what postal cards are, as a medium of mass communication. Postal cards were immensely popular and the economic mainstay of a vast and diverse printing industry throughout western Europe. Postcards were inexpensive, inexpensive to send, ubiquitously available and endlessly creative in the message their pictures conveyed. Because they were a major means of communication, postcards were produced to communicate the full range of human thought and intent. From humor to nostalgia to joy to hate. It is precisely for this reason that they are important cultural and historical artifacts. In times of war there is a distillation of belief and motivation and emotion that is clearly reflected in the cards displayed on this website. They are not merely snapshots of a world at war. They are virtual windows into the minds and hearts of millions who fought that war on the battlefields and the home front as well.

It is difficult to underestimate the impact that propaganda had upon the masses in history’s first modern war, which saw the mobilization and regimentation of entire societies to an unprecedented degree.  WWI was a “total war” for its European participants, and that totality was made possible in large measure due to the creation of an equally modern propaganda as revealed in these cards.  The effectiveness of this propaganda in hardening the utter distinction between “us” and “them” is seen in the aftermath of the war in the harshness of terms dictated to Germany in the Treaty of Versailles.  It was this harshness and heavy-handed vengeance towards the German people that lead directly to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and ultimately the Second World War.

The great British historian G.M. Trevelyan, identifies wartime propaganda as a crucial factor in the disastrous “insults and injuries” heaped upon Germany at Versailles in 1919.  Writing in 1937, almost twenty years after Versailles and at a time when Hitler’s Germany was in a frenzy of re-armament, Trevelyan assessed the impact that the themes of Allied wartime portrayed here had upon the people of Britain, and of France.  “When the War began in 1914 the mood of the country was that of an idealist crusade to save Belgium and liberty in Western Europe; great material advantages for ourselves were not envisaged, nor any gross revenge on the enemy.  But the increasing atrocity of modern war . . . aroused the deepest passions; and war propaganda, considered necessary to hold mass opinion on the Home Front concentrated in hate of the enemy, made the utmost of such themes.  The popular press, in perpetual frenzy, painted ’the Huns’ as scarcely human, and all who thought them human as traitors. . . . as the terrible years went by, [it] hardened their hearts and darkened their minds.  The prolongation of such a war for four years destroyed the possibility of a reasonable peace, because the terms of peace would have to be decided before the abnormal passion would have time to cool.” 
[G.M. Trevelyan.  British History in the Nineteenth Century and After.  (1937 ed.)  
Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 459.]

The richness of study to be found in these cards will stimulate, delight and amaze you.


Original Text :  Jerry Kosanovich  and  Paul Hageman
All   cards   shown   are   from   the   private  collections  of  Paul  Hageman  and  Jerry  Kosanovich.

Copyright © Paul Hageman (NL) / Jerry Kosanovich (USA) 1999-2010 

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