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15 Striking Print Ads That Show the Audacity of Nazi Germany

The Third Reich, Germany’s Nazi era, existed from 1933, when Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Worker’s Party came to power, until 1945, when the regime collapsed at the end of the Second World War. At the time of Hitler’s rise to power Germany was recovering from the First World War and coming to terms with the conditions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles.

As evidenced below, the media of the Third Reich era were instrumental in creating the impression of a confident and stylish modern European country, with an air of optimism and triumphalism reflected in the print ads of the time.

1. Mercedes-Benz


Image: USM Books

Months after taking power, Hitler created the Luftwaffe, Germany’s powerful and technically advanced air force. The Nazis officially announced the Luftwaffe’s existence in 1935, a policy that violated the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles. The eventual purpose of the air force was to help implement the Third Reich’s Blitzkrieg across Europe.

Mercedes-Benz was famous for producing luxury automobiles, but they also built aircraft engines for civilian and military vehicles, as shown in this advertisement. Mercedes-Benz engines were used in many of the Luftwaffe’s aircraft, including the iconic Messerschmitt fighter plane.

2. Volkswagen


Image: Wikipedia

While Hitler wasn’t keen on driving himself, he was enthusiastic about cars and roads, and in 1933 gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to design and produce the ‘Volks-Wagen’, the peoples’ car. The car was developed to be both affordable and mechanically simple, to make breakdown less likely and repairs easier. After the war, the Volkswagen would be become internationally known as the Beetle, an icon of 20th Century car design.

This advert from 1939 tells German citizens to save five marks a week if they want to drive their own car, with the graphics showing the Beetle’s characteristic curves.

3. Focke-Wulf


Image: Calvin College

Focke-Wulf was a manufacturer of civilian and military aircraft that supplied many fighter planes to the Luftwaffe during the war. This advert, from 1944, states that the company is helping solve the grate tasks of the day with the aim of establishing a New Order in Europe.

4. Agfa, Leuna and Ford


Image: USM Books

Leuna was a retail petrol company that printed and sold a huge amount of maps in the 1930s. During this time, the concept of a German ‘homeland’ was promoted, particularly the areas around Munich and Upper Bavaria. The image above is the back cover of a map of the region, printed in 1938. The booklet bears the logos of Leuna, Agfa and Ford, who jointly sponsored the maps.

5. German Reichsautobahnen


Image: Calvin College

The Weimar Republic had started the construction of Germany’s autobahn motorways, and Hitler enthusiastically embraced the project, developing a network of ‘Reichsautobahnen’ across the country. The improved infrastructure would enable Germans to travel freely in their own cars, create employment and economic growth (although slave labour was later used in their construction) and make the movement of military equipment and troops faster and simpler. This poster encourages motorists to speed along the Reichsautobahnen, roads that have no upper speed limit.

6. Efasit


Image: Calvin College

This advert informs the public that Efasit foot care products are reserved for the marching feet of German soldiers, but reassures that once peace arrives Efasit will be freely available to the friends of German products.

7. Conti Atlas


Image: USM Books

This advert promotes Continental Tyre’s Conti Atlases, road maps for German drivers. The number of cars, and the highways to support them, greatly increased in inter-war Germany, and driving tours became a fashionable pastime.

8. Kiel Agricultural Fair [1937]


Image: Calvin College

This poster publicises an agricultural fair that took place in Kiel in the summer of 1937.

9. Olympic Sailing [1936]


Image: SS Relics

Germany hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. The decision to hold the games in Germany had been controversial, leading to much international debate and many athletes choosing to boycott the event. The Nazis used the Olympics to promote their ideals of an Aryan master race, while simultaneously trying to clean up their image by removing anti-Semitic signs from tourist areas.

This poster is for the game’s sailing events, which took place at the Port of Kiel.

10. Berlin International Automobile and Motorbike Exhibition [1937]


Image: nyctreeman

The Internationale Automobil und Motorrad Ausstellung Berlin 1937 was a vast motorcar and motorbike exhibition that attracted thousands of visitors from across the world. The exhibition showcased the products of Germany’s thriving auto industry along with the country’s advanced transport infrastructure, at its height before the destruction of the Second World War.

11. Benger


Image: nyctreeman

This stylish design advertises Benger tricot undergarments.

12. Traumlastic


Image: nyctreeman

Another underwear ad, this time declaring the virtues of ‘Traumlastic’ corsetry, designed to help German ladies with the stresses and strains of bending to pick up picture frames.

13. Hamburg-America Line


Image: SS Relics

The Hamburg-Amerika Linie was a company established in Hamburg in 1847 for sea travel, which soon grew to become Germany’s largest shipping company. This poster from 1934 promotes Mediterranean cruises, with a ship cutting through the azure waters that form the background to the exotic scene of women at work.

14. UHU


Image: Calvin College

This 1944 ad is for UHU, the German glue, and suggests that while Nazi soldiers are fighting for a ‘happy and united Europe’, the children on the homefront are preparing for ‘the great tasks of reconstruction and peace.’ UHU, the ‘all-sticker’, is necessary for tinkering and model-building, essential to German children’s creative learning.

15. Dujardin Brandy


Image: Calvin College

‘Everything should go well for all!’ declares this 1944 advert for Dujardin, one of Germany’s largest brandy distilleries of the day. Even in the late stages of the war, German print advertising maintained an optimistic outlook.

About the author:

James Adams is a professional writer and marketer who is currently employed at Cartridge Save. He is involved with a large number of speciliased tasks within the inner workings of the company and has amassed a great deal of knowledge regarding business, printers and online media. His passions involve writing, psychology and online driven media.

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  • User Gravatar that guy
    January 21st, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    When I read the title of this post I was expecting something at least mildly audacious. Where’s the beef?

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