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Creative Commons License
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Preferred Name

Kaitlin Hampshire


Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


Christian Davis

Michael Gubser

Gabrielle Lanier


How can one nation define an ideal community? The Reich’s Propaganda Ministry of Nazi Germany knew. No cultivation of community, or Volksgemeinschaft in the case of Nazi Germany, is complete without the use of propaganda. Nazi propaganda posters played several different roles in the formation of the community, such as maintaining the military, as well as labor forces not in the military, perpetuating anti-Soviet and anti-Jew feelings, creating the Führer myth, and gaining the support of Germany’s youth. All of the messages displayed in the posters identified the values of the members of the ‘National Community’ or Volksgemeinschaft.

Propaganda posters are often neglected in academic literature. Scholars who do mention Nazi propaganda posters in their literature most commonly use the posters to support their research regarding a different topic from that era, not for the posters’ own merit. Despite the lack of attention given to the propaganda posters in academia, they were the most influential type of media that the Third Reich produced, and shed the most light on Nazi government motives.

My historical research concentrates on the changing definition of the Volksgemeinschaft in propaganda posters. After examining posters between the years of 1929 to 1945, a shift in the Nazi perception of the Volksgemeinschaft is clearly noticeable. This analysis will utilize an artistic approach to further the historical analysis. By analyzing the content and form, such as construction, color, text and subject matter, the evolving themes of the posters reflected how the Volksgemeinschaft was defined throughout the Nazi period can be determined and allow us to place those larger themes in historical context. Through this dual approach, this thesis will establish a greater understanding of the content and context of Nazi propaganda posters, as propaganda posters ultimately inspire the changing identity of the Volksgemeinschaft.