We’ve covered some of the historical archives of propaganda material before on Mind Hacks, but ex-US PsyOps Sergeant Major Herbert Friedman has created an archive of historical propaganda that was specifically themed to target sexual insecurities.
The page is not the easiest to read owing to the rather rough and ready formatting, but it has a fascinating archive of 20th century wartime propaganda that used sexual images to rally the civilian population or lower moral in enemy troops.
The images are NSFW but are most are not particularly pornographic by today’s standards, although a few are obviously designed to be particularly offensive.
Most images aimed at civilians use the theme that the enemy are sexual deviants who will defile the country’s women if they’re not defeated, while most aimed at enemy soldiers suggest that their girlfriends and wives will be unfaithful while they’re away – or simply highlight the contrast between staying and fighting or, for example, returning home to drink cocktails with topless women.
Some of the leaflets are quite complex for the time, using see-through covers to make them visually more appealing, while they were often specifically designed to take advantage of the specific insecurities of allied forces.
For example, this section discusses German sexual propaganda leaflets dropped to allied soldiers in World War II:
There are two major differences between the leaflets aimed at the Americans and those aimed at the French. The American leaflets are much cruder and the pictures not nearly as well drawn. The second difference is that while the leaflet to the French showed British soldiers with the women, thus attacking an ally, the leaflet aimed at the GIs showed American civilians with the wives and girlfriends, so the propaganda theme might be considered more “anti-slacker” or “anti-draft-dodger”.
A fascinating collection, and if you’re interested in a browsing through probably the most comprehensive archive of propaganda leaflets on the net (including examples from as recent as last year), I notice the PsyWar website is back online.
UPDATE: The original page seems to be a bit unreliable, but thanks to Will for posting a link to a mirror of the page which you can read here.