1918 Original American Propaganda Poster, Remember Belgium - Ellsworth Young

Date: 1918
Size: 19.5 x 30 inches
Notes: Poster, Linen backed
Artist: Ellsworth Young

About the Poster: In an attempt to convince the American population to buy bonds and therefore finance the war effort, propaganda posters often resorted to guilting people into donating their money. In this image, we see a moustachioed German infantryman (identified by his pickelhaube) carrying a gun and dragging a woman. In the background, a raging fire can be seen consuming a village. The scene refers to the Rape of Belgium, the usual historical term regarding the treatment of civilians during the 1914–18 German invasion and occupation of Belgium during World War I. Images and stories such as these were fed to Americans by the British to illustrate how the Allies needed help in fighting the German forces.

According to Imperial War Museums, "Ellsworth Young was responsible for one of the best-known American posters of the First World War. Taking a title which first appeared in two British recruiting posters, Remember Belgium, the artist uses the alleged atrocities committed by Germans in 1914 to generate sympathy for the Belgians and thereby encourage Americans to invest in war savings. Young did his design in 1918, but little else is known about the artist. The US war loan schemes were very successful, and by the end of the First World War millions of such posters had been produced, many using the Statue of Liberty (which became the Liberty Loan logo, designed by Adolph Treidler) or Uncle Sam as a motif. Such campaigns were even more effective than those launched in Germany (Joseph Pennell's design of New York in flames, created for the Fourth Liberty Loan, was particularly successful). The message of Young's Remember Belgium is simple, and its image clear and horrifying. Interesting is the resemblance between the German soldier and Otto Von Bismarck, whose appearance the artist would have known from illustrations. Also interesting is the large amount of plain green background (actually composed of green and blue, with small orange flecks), and the use of diagonals, indicating how effective Ellsworth Young was as a designer."