Introduction to War Loan Appeals

                                             (You will find the links to the various countries at the bottom of this page)

Regardless of which alliance they belonged to in the war, all combatant nations faced certain common domestic challenges. For the primary combatants of Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Great Britain, Russia and Italy, it was the mobilization of the entire nation for "Total War". As many historians have correctly observed, World War One was the first major conflict in human history which required the mobilization of entire societies. The ongoing drain on manpower, national productivity, material resources and money was beyond the traditional ability of limited segments of society to provide. For all of the combatant nations World War One quickly ramped up to requirements for men and material that were beyond all expectations, and for which history had not prepared them.

Three brief examples illustrate this point. At the onset of the war in August 1914, the entire French army had 4,000 artillery pieces. This was thought to be enough for victory. France was to build another 36,000 before the war ended. France's 2,500 automatic weapons were a mere token of the 315,000 machine guns to come. Germany, which had had a standing army of 850,000 men when she confidently went to war sure of "victory by Christmas", had 6,000,000 men in uniform by January 1916. France, with two-thirds the population had an equal number under arms. All of these soldiers had to be clothed, equipped, fed, transported and provided with weaponry and ammunition. All of this took money, and the financing of the war effort became a major concern and preoccupation of the government in each nation.

   The best savings bank

Our father gave his life.
Don't refuse us your money.

The response of governments to the requirement for exceptional revenue in times of war takes five forms: increased taxation, confiscation (usually from occupied populace), government to government loans, borrowing from private banking interests, and borrowing from the public.  The cards in this section are all propagandistic appeals to the masses in relation to this last method - borrowing from the public. All of these are original appeals to the people to voluntarily purchase or subscribe to war loans. War loans were interest-bearing bonds issued by each nation's central government with a promise to redeem principal plus earned interest at a designated time in the future.

In reviewing the money raising propaganda cards in this section one can see that there is a higher degree of common usage of the propaganda art, across nationalities, in this subject than in the other "patriotic" appeals. This is because all the governments had to demonstrate that the money the citizenry voluntarily gave, was used to directly benefit the war effort and the citizen soldiers doing the fighting. Therefore these appeals make heavy use of the image of soldiers, airmen and sailors. They show the tools of war that the military needs to do its job, and thereby assure the masses that their monetary sacrifice is going directly into the prosecution of the war effort. 

We must finish
the war right.

The patriotic appeal is direct and focused: these men risk the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives in defense of the nation, can civilians not sacrifice mere money to support and arm them? The aim of the multi-national propagandists is very succinctly symblized by a quotation from American Secretary of the Treasury, MacAdoo, in 1917:

"Shall we be more tender with our dollars than with the lives of our sons?"

Allied Powers:
Central Powers:

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