Holocaust  Propaganda

Holocaust  Propaganda

ENG 333 Project

Analysis of Propaganda Poster- Behind Enemy Powers: The Jew


My visual is an anti-Semitic poster used by the Nazi’s during World War II. The poster illustrates a Jew peeking through a British, American and Soviet Union flag. Text on the poster states “Behind the Enemy Powers: the Jew.” Artist Bruno Hanish created this poster that was distributed around Germany, German-occupied lands and neutral countries.

                  This poster is a form of obvious visual rhetoric for many reasons. For instance, one example is that it uses symbolic action as explained by Foss, in his article Theory of Visual Rhetoric, “To qualify as visual rhetoric, an image must go beyond serving as a sign, however, and be symbolic, with that image only indirectly connected to its referent.” There are many symbols used, like the Star of David symbolizing the Jewish faith, and flags symbolizing different countries. These symbols along with their placement are used to form a rhetorical message.

                  Colors of red, white, blue and yellow are used consistently throughout the poster, with the yellow of the text reading, “the Jew,” matching the yellow of the Star of David. The aesthetics are affective; using strategic balance and pattern to move the viewers’ eye through the poster, never settling on one specific element. The color yellow, however, stands out.

                  This visually rhetorical device relates directly to the topic of Nazi Propaganda. It was used as a tool to demonize and dehumanize the Jewish race.

                  One visual element that I find extremely strategic and affective is the arrangement of objects. “The Jew,” is placed in the center, but behind flags. The flags are translucent so you can see the finished silhouette of his body. Only one eye peeks out through the curtain of enemy countries. Dangling from his waist, the Star of David appears, and in his face the look of deceit is portrayed. The text added in front, and separate from the visual, only reinforces the message. How these elements are placed play directly to the posters’ audience.

                  According to Foss, “visual rhetoric implies an audience and is concerned with an appeal either to a real or an ideal audience.” Foss also explains how the visual is arranged directly correlates with its effectiveness. The audience of this piece was mainly Germans and German sympathizers, vulnerable due to the timing of World War I and ready to blame their enemies for their suffering. In this way, the German population was the Nazi’s ideal audience when creating a new enemy, the Jew. They arranged the visual elements to correlate their Jewish population with their enemies of World War I.

                  The message is made clear for all viewers to understand. When viewing this poster for the first time, I was appalled and then extremely saddened knowing that a simple message like this took part in the greatest of all genocides. It is also obvious to me that the Nazi’s would not have stopped. They would have committed these crimes until all of their enemies were completely wiped out, including the United States where I live.

Elizabeth Ilse

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