by: Bill Cross [ ]
Goebbels infamously said that a lie repeated often enough is soon believed, and this is often the case with propaganda by all the belligerents of the Second World War. Governments felt compelled to "spin" the story their way, and even the Allies layered it on with a trowel when it came to print media. All sides used posters, and modelers have had access to 1/35th reproductions of German and some other posters.
Archer Fine Transfers has been releasing sets of 1/35th scale propaganda posters for years, and have now issued SEVEN new sets of them at once:
1 Spanish Civil War
what you get
Inside the usual Archer Fine Transfers glassine envelope is a folded sheet of posters in various sizes printed on paper so the posters can be weathered, torn, scorched or whatever.
During the 1930s advertising posters were common outdoor fixtures on walls. With the advent of the Second World War, they were often joined or even replaced by posters intended to motivate - or following invasion, cow the populace. The two Russian sets, for example, are populated by heroic Soviet citizens and soldiers in a life & death struggle against various versions of "the Hun."
Nazi Germany was particularly good at adapting its propaganda apparatus to "swaying" (or even intimidating) captive nations such as the Netherlands,so it's not surprising the Dutch posters set is mostly made up of pro-Nazi and often anti-Semitic imagery. One shows a German-helmeted soldier with a racist caricature of a Jewish banker above the caption "who is the true Dutchman?"
The French posters are a welcome mix of pro- and anti-Nazi subjects reflecting France's occupation and liberation. One poster has a valiant National Socialist youth in a desperate struggle with the "wolf" of communism, while another recalls the greatness of Napoleon in the "struggle" against the Jews. Pretty nasty stuff, but fortunately, there are also fine posters promoting liberation and the march to Berlin.
The Polish set is mostly anti-Nazi from what I can see, but also includes some in English as befits a government in exile, including a splendid woman and two children in front of the Stars & Stripes with the headline "Polish War Relief." While more appropriate to an American setting, the poster balances nicely with others, including one in English reminding viewers that Poland was "first to fight." And another with the headline "Do Broni" (to arms) exhorts Poles to fight the "red menace." We tend to forget how Germany and the Soviet Union carved up Poland in 1939.
The Russians eventually got payback for that decision after the Nazis launched Operation Barbarossa. The two sets of Russian propaganda posters Archer has chosen to release cover some of the more-famous ones (Irakli Toidze's "The Motherland is Calling" with a figure meant to evoke Mother Russia holding a handbill amidst a forest of bayonets), but also covering a wide spectrum of themes, including what looks like the medieval Russian hero Alexander Nevsky standing behind a soldier with his Tommy gun. There is a huge range of posters, and I commend Archer Fine Transfers for including such a wide selection.
One of the stranger releases in the set is the Canadian propaganda posters. While Canada was a major supplier of men and arms to the war effort of the Commonwealth, posters exhorting the support of bond drives would seem to have limited use to modelers. Still, it's great to see this sort of thing available for those who want them.
The release is rounded off by a set of Spanish Civil War posters. The Spanish Civil War turned out to be a trial run for WW2, and pitted the Fascists/Nationalists against the Republicans, a left-leaning group that received aid from the Soviet Union. The conflict inspired adventurers from many countries to join the fight against the ruthless Franco and his Nazi supporters, who were portrayed by German propaganda as volunteers, but who were there to aid a fellow Fascist and try out the new equipment making its way into the Wehrmacht.
It's difficult to tell the participants in the fight without a good knowledge of the struggle, and the posters are often misleading (as we would expect from propaganda). For example, a sunny yellow background shows a pilot with goggles looking up in triumph to a V-formation of airplanes that help spell out the word "Victoria" ("victory"). One might be tempted to think this was for the Fascists who won the Civil War, but in fact, the poster is for the Republican Air Force, which fought unsuccessfully against Franco and the Nazi-supplied "Condor Legion" that included later aces like Adolf Galland.
These posters provide another layer of realism to dioramas, and should be embraced by modelers looking to add to their creations. The posters are printed in shadings that are to-scale, and on a bright white paper stock that will be as new and colorful, or faded and worn as needed.
Thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for providing these review samples. Be sure to mention you saw them reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.