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Propaganda Poster: “A Word to All!”

A propaganda poster on wartime measures.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Nazi racial policies gave certain privileges to so-called “Aryan” Germans—but these privileges came with certain expectations and duties. According to Nazi ideology, each member of the so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft")1 was responsible for doing their part to maintain the health, strength, and unity of the nation. Nazi propaganda urged “Aryan” Germans to stay healthy and “make sure the bloodstream is passed on pure and unmixed.”2 German citizens were also expected to show support for the Nazi regime3 and contribute to the national economy.

The regime’s demands on its citizens grew as World War II created new economic strains for Nazi Germany. Produced in April 1942, the featured propaganda poster outlines Nazi expectations for individual citizens’ different duties to support the wartime economy. It shows how Nazi authorities demanded that Germans from all different walks of life each do their part to help German forces achieve victory in the war. Farmers are instructed to reject hoarding, merchants are cautioned against trading on the black market, and housewives are warned not to give bribes for food or goods. These demands are framed as “service to the war and preparatory work for victory!”

During the years of World War II, Nazi propaganda described the duties of members of the "national community" in military terms.4 Nazi ideology glorified violence and war. The regime celebrated the camaraderie of soldiers in combat—the so-called “fighting community”—as a model to be followed by everyone. Wartime propaganda frequently encouraged German civilians to behave as if they were all frontline soldiers united together in battle against Allied forces.5 The featured poster states that Germans should all be proud of their different contributions to the wartime economy. But the poster does not just rely on positive reinforcement to make its points. It also warns that severe violations will be punished by the death penalty. Nazi propaganda often relied on a combination of incentives and fear to persuade its audience.6

This large poster—33.13 inches tall by 47.5 inches wide—belongs to the “Word of the Week” series of Nazi propaganda posters. Word of the Week was produced by the Reich Propaganda Directorate of the Nazi Party from 1936–1943. Roughly 125,000 new posters were produced and distributed each week. Their large size, simple graphics, and bright colors were all designed to attract people’s attention. They were known as “wall newspapers” because they were typically placed on the walls of busy gathering spots such as bus stops or train stations.7 These striking posters were put in these highly visible public places so that large numbers of people could not help but see them during their daily routines. 

To learn more about the formation of the Nazi "national community," see Lisa Pine, Hitler's 'National Community': Society and Culture in Nazi Germany (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017); and Thomas Kühne, Belonging and Genocide: Hitler's Community, 1918-1945 (Yale University Press, 2010). 


For more on how the Nazi regime used propaganda, see the Experiencing History collection, Nazi Propaganda and National Unity. To learn more about Nazi expectations for German citizens’ duties according to Nazi ideas of race, biology, and eugenics, see the related Experiencing History collection, Targets of Eugenics.

Germans were expected to participate in Nazi-led charity drives and other public rituals of support for the regime. To learn more, see the related Experiencing History items, Propaganda Film on Community Welfare and Film of Nazi Memorials in Munich.

For more on the development of Nazi propaganda, see the Experiencing History collection Nazi Propaganda and National Unity and the online exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.

For another primary source example of Nazi propaganda that promoted the idea of a national "fighting community" during World War II, see the related Experiencing History item, Propaganda Film: "Radio in War".

To learn more about how the Nazi regime ruled through a combination of incentives and threats, see Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

To learn more about the "Word of the Week" propaganda poster series, see Jeffrey Herf, The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006), 28–34.

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A Word to All!

1. In wartime, all goods and foodstuffs belong to the entire nation ["Volk"]; for this reason they must be distributed evenly and fairly. Any individual who violates this principle causes harm to the supply of the whole.

2. What the farmer produces belongs to the entire nation; he should and must tell the hoarder to stay away from his farm.

3. What German soil and German diligence bring forth passes through the hand of the businessman. He is the trustee of these goods; let him distribute them fairly. If he engages in barter, he is guilty of a serious offence.

4. The output of the craftsman, too, has its fair price. Hence it is dishonorable and punishable to request and to accept special benefits.

5. Let the German housewife expect and request from the salesperson only what is due her. The payment of exorbitant prices and bribes is unworthy of her and is punishable besides.

6. Barter, illicit trade, price-gouging, underselling, and bribery will be punished. In especially serious cases, the seizure of assets and the death penalty will be imposed.

7. Every individual, whether a producer, a businessman, or a customer, makes it a point of honor to act in an exemplary manner. Let each person be content with what is due him.

This too is part of the war effort and groundwork for victory!

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number 1995.96.66
Date Created
April 8, 1942
Photographer / Creator
Reichspropagandaleitung der N.S.D.A.P.
Zentralverlag der NSDAP
W. Wächter
Still Image Type Artwork
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