What has been better preserved and easily available are World War I Propaganda Posters. A simple internet search can leave you spending hours looking at these artistic marvels.
The US came late to the Great War and thus war propaganda. The British by 1917 were the real masters of the propaganda poster trade, and the US simply recycled quite a few of the posters - adjusted for the US audience of course. Unlike the British, the US had a large German population. The US tried to walk a fine line to convince the American population that they were waging war against "Prussianism, Kaiserism, German Militarism" and not the German population (across the Atlantic as well as on US soil). Judging by reports of anti-German sentiments ranging from school children being beaten up because of their German last name to painting German houses yellow to taking and selling livestock of Mennonite farmers to buy Liberty Bonds to the lynching of Robert Prager I wonder if the American public was able to make that distinction. The posters clearly appealed to the public's emotions, and in a sense painted every German-American living in the US as a disloyal, unpatriotic traitor. The posters created the image of the "uncivilized Hun" that needed to be defeated to save not only Europe but also American civilization. The posters created, encouraged, and maintained the image of the enemy at home, German-Americans.
One of my favorite Anti-German World War One Propaganda Poster is Destroy this Mad Brute, created by Harry R. Hopps in 1918. The poster was used as a recruitment tool, encouraging men to enlist. It depicts a King Kong look-alike gorilla wearing a German-style military helmet (Pickelhaube) with “Militarism” imprinted on it. The ape-like creature also sports a blond mustache, eerily similar to Kaiser Wilhelm II. The creature is drooling, his mouth is wide open, showing his teeth. He is holding a white woman in his left arm. She is partially wearing a light blue dress and is showing her bare breasts. The woman is covering her eyes with her right hand. The gorilla is holding a large wooden club with the word “Kultur” (culture) printed on it in his right hand. Both hands of the gorilla and the club are bloody. In the background is the silhouette of a destroyed city. Between the city and the gorilla is a body of water, presumably the Atlantic Ocean. It seems that the gorilla just arrived on the shores of the United States, as “America” is printed under his feet, thus playing on the public’s fears of a German invasion. The underlying message of this poster revealed that the enemy might already be in the country. Americans needed to be concerned with the enemy among them. This enemy was the millions of German-Americans who from the outset of the war were suspected of being spies and traitors.
The poster has a striking resemblance to King Kong from the 1933 movie, even down to holding a distressed damsel, representing western civilization, in his arms. I wonder if Hollywood took this poster as a model, and if it brought back memories of the "uncivilized Hun" at a time when a former Private in the Imperial German Army during the Great War was appointed Chancellor of Germany.