Sunday Sampler of Anti-War Ads

World Peaceways (1930s pacifist/anti-war organization) produced some of the boldest propaganda posters of that era, largely aimed at looking at what had come about in the aftermath of the First World War, including the Depression, and death on a scale the world had not seen before, as well as lasting enmity that was quickly brewing into the Second World War.

The name "World Peaceways" was used in the famous Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever" to represent the pacifist movement that Edith Keeler belonged to.  The story claimed that her peace work would keep America out of the war for too long and thus lead to Germany winning and taking over the United States. Kirk HAD to let her die - because if he saved her (as he apparently had) then all of history would change.

1936

Full size (and very interesting and legible too): 1275x1600

Several others:
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1937+World+Peaceways+The+children+who+will+not+come+home+from+school+%7E+Albert+Dorne
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A quite interesting letterhead can be found HERE.

While kind of a "Debbie Downer" of the time, they did hold up the truth of war's effects on ordinary people in some truly striking (and for America, quite impressive) ads - back when we had an actual left wing element to our politics.  It's important to remember that this is not "post-war" - the milieu is entirely without awareness of what followed and what was "right" or "wrong" from OUR point of view. Most people adopt a more pragmatic "speak softly and carry a big stick" attitude - try not to fight but fight if you feel the cause is just.  For others, war is just endless death.
Considering how veterans have been treated since the Vietnam War, and with spending cuts making things even harder on them, these ads were scarily prescient. It could be that poor treatment of vets has gone on even longer, and I just don't know it. I know these ads weren't just about that: just as a Navy vet they stood out to me the most.
I think it's pretty much eternal - civil society has no use for a soldier, and in fact finds them a threat. This goes back through the Civil War to the Revolution, just within our history, and it goes worldwide and back past Rome.
Treatment of Veterans
(Anonymous)
"Considering how veterans have been treated since the Vietnam War, and with spending cuts making things even harder on them, these ads were scarily prescient. It could be that poor treatment of vets has gone on even longer, and I just don't know it. I know these ads weren't just about that: just as a Navy vet they stood out to me the most." WWII (and to some degree the American Civil War) were exceptions to the USA's normal treatment of veterans.
These are some of the saddest "ads" I've seen :(

Talk about some hard, uncomfortable truths.
These are amazing... and I wonder how such ads would go down today if directed to the "war on terror". I imagine there would be massive massive outrage, Which is funny, considering people think they have more freedom of speech than before...
Very confronting! And I imagine they must have enraged some people at the time, especially with "The Field of Dishonour".

I really liked where it asked who died in the last war. Not politicians or statesmen or business leaders. I guess that part never changes.

Certainly some of the text could be used effectively today, although in hindsight, calling a war 'silly' was a bit, well, silly. Korea, The Suez, Vietnam, Afghanistan, The Falklands, Iraq, all wars or actions you can argue against - but it's hard to argue with a war that ended Hitler and killed Nazis.

(some Nazis. Not the really rich or smart ones obviously.)

Very very interesting stuff - thank you for sharing!

They don't mince words, do they? Interesting images, too. You could change a few words and place names and update the art a bit in any of these ads and they would be just as relevant today--or any time. Some things never change. They never change.

I also didn't realize that "City on the Edge of Forever" referenced an actual organization. Even Memory Alpha doesn't mention that. I will have to watch that episode again soon. Hey, any excuse to watch TOS! :)
I had that wrong- it was the obvious historical reference in that ep but not named in the ep.


SPOCK: This is how history went after McCoy changed it. Here, in the late 1930s. A growing pacifist movement whose influence delayed the United States' entry into the Second World War. While peace negotiations dragged on, Germany had time to complete its heavy-water experiments.
KIRK: Germany. Fascism. Hitler. They won the Second World War.
SPOCK: Because all this lets them develop the A-bomb first. There's no mistake, Captain. Let me run it again. Edith Keeler. Founder of the peace movement.
KIRK: But she was right. Peace was the way.
SPOCK: She was right, but at the wrong time. With the A-bomb, and with their V2 rockets to carry them, Germany captured the world.
I don't doubt, though, that they had this organization in mind. In the 1960s, I am sure many people still remembered it, even if only vaguely.
In the draft as reprinted in the book, I think there's a specific reference to "World Peaceways".
Maybe it was edited out between draft and final screen version so they wouldn't be referring to an actual organization. If you can find that version I'd love to see it.
Nope, sorry, I was mistaken -- not in the draft as printed. There was a mention in James Blish's narrative version: whether it was his own interpolation I don't know, but Blish had Edith Keeler's involvement in World Peaceways key to keeping the US out of the war.

(Harlan Ellison is still monumentally pissed about a lot of issues connected to that episode.)



So, in other words, other than ending slavery, Fascism, Nazism, and Communism, war has never solved anything? Is that about it?




From the first ad, above: "To abolish this whole silly business of war." the ads aren't anti-WWI, they're anti-war, period. Don't get me wrong, war sucks. But I dare anyone who says that there's never a situation where war is preferable to the alternative to say that to the face of a child who lost her parents at Bergen-Belsen, or Japanese occupied Shainghai, or the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge.

War is a sometimes necessary evil, and any who believes otherwise in the name of humanity may like humanity, but they don't apparently like people too much.


People who've never been in those positions would say, and people who have been through hell would never understand. The point is that different viewpoints exist, and challenging random strangers to disagree doesn't really help the discussion. Are there other options, and have they been fully exploited. A necessary evil, as you say, I agree.


Fair enough. I just get bothered by simplistic statements like "War is not the answer" from people who are probably not even certain what the question was :)

But you're right - I could have made my point in a less confrontational, more rational way, and I will try to remember that in the future.


The ads are intentionally provocative, I knew that, but my post wasn't trying to be. They are one wing of all peace movements. Non-violent activists insist on finding the non-violent way, and cite scripture for turning the other cheek, but they run into ugly reality quite often.
I think the argument is about the ends justifying the means. Many people would say that any means we can use to end the evil Isms is acceptable, and many people are willing to sacrifice themselves (and many more to sacrifice "someone else") to get to that end. The point of the World Peaceways group was to (at the very least) make you stop and think before rushing headlong into another mass war, or to wonder if there are *other* means to achieve the same end. I don't think anyone LOVES wars, no matter their good outcomes and solutions, and there are reasons why we try to avoid them. Winning a war while up to your neck in corpses is a victory, but a hell of a victory.


I've always liked Eisenhower's statement that "the problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without," which accords with what you said about ends and means. The ends are the means. The ends are always the means, and if it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it, then you did it wrong.

As far as World Peaceways goes, though there's fairly compelling evidence that the peace movement between the wars, and the huge rush to disarm after the "War to end all Wars" was extremely beneficial to Germany, because they were ignoring the Treaty of Versailles, and arming up while everyone else was arming down. Working for world peace only really works if everyone wants to play the game - and the trouble is, you're always going to have someone who doesn't want to play...