Propaganda is a powerful tool used to influence public opinion and behavior. During World War II, all sides of the conflict employed propaganda to demonize their enemies, rally support for the war effort, and manipulate public perception. Today, we will focus on a particularly disturbing tactic: dehumanization. Dehumanization strips enemies of their humanity, portraying them as less than human, often as animals or monsters. This tactic serves several purposes like justifying violence, promoting fear and hatred, and creating a sense of in-groups vs. out-groups.

Nazi Germany was notorious for its use of dehumanization, particularly against Jews. Propaganda portrayed Jews as rats, vermin, and insects, laying the groundwork for the horrors of the Holocaust. Two aspects heavily used were through visual propaganda and dehumanizing language. Posters and cartoons depicted Jews with exaggerated features, often associated with rodents. Nazi propaganda referred to Jews with terms like “Untermenschen” (subhumans) and “parasites”. 

The Germans were not the only ones guilty of using this practice. The United States and its allies also used dehumanization tactics, primarily against the Japanese and Germans. American propaganda portrayed Japanese soldiers as buck-toothed, aggressive caricatures, while Germans were often depicted as goose-stepping automatons. Hitler and Tojo were demonized as evil masterminds, further distancing them from humanity.

Dehumanization is a dangerous tactic with lasting consequences. It allows for atrocities to be committed and erodes our sense of empathy and compassion. By understanding how propaganda used dehumanization in WWII, we can be more critical of similar tactics used today. As we continue to dive into the history of propaganda and its effects, be sure to read each new blog on Monday to learn how we can create a better world through our marketing.


Published On: July 8th, 2024 / Categories: Content Marketing /

Sign Up For Marketing Tips & More!

Sign up today and receive the guide “Making Sense of Online Marketing”