The Hoover Institution’s new exhibition, The Battle for Hearts and Minds: World War II Propaganda, opened Tuesday, April 24, 2012, in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion (next to Hoover Tower) on the Stanford University campus and runs through Saturday, February 2, 2013.
In his recently published history of World War II, Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath (Hoover Press, 2011), edited by George H. Nash, Herbert Hoover describes (after the four horsemen of the apocalypse: war, death, famine, and pestilence) “a fifth Horseman bearing propaganda loaded with lies and hate.”
As a visual complement to Herbert Hoover's epic historical account, this exhibition features posters and other propaganda from the World War II era that are held in the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. As Hoover stated when dedicating the Hoover Tower on June 20, 1941, “The purpose of this institution is to promote peace. Its records stand as a challenge to those who promote war. They should attract those who search for peace.”
Drawn from the archives’ rich and extensive collection of more than 100,000 posters, a large number from the United States, Great Britain, Poland, Germany, and the Soviet Union are on display in the exhibition. Of special note is a selection of hand-painted Soviet posters from the TASS news and propaganda agency that were recently shown at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of its acclaimed exhibition Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, 1941–1945.
Highlights of other propaganda materials on display include Soviet propaganda collected by American journalist Arthur Waldo in late 1939; anti-Semitic children's books put out by Julius Streicher, the widely influential publisher of Nazi propaganda; German- language anti-Nazi propaganda produced by the Polish Home Army and flown out of occupied Poland via Operation Wildhorn with Andrzej Pomian, who went on to work for Radio Free Europe and later emigrated to the United States; and Polish underground publications personally handed to Herbert Hoover by Stanisław Mikołajczyk (second prime minister of the Polish government in exile during the war) when Hoover visited Warsaw in 1946.
The exhibit is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and is free of charge. Parking on campus is free on Saturdays. For more information, go to http://hoover.org/library-and-archives or call the Hoover Archives at (650) 723-3563.
The Hoover Institution holds the fruits of Hoover’s prodigious labors—and of those of his colleagues and successors: thousands of manuscript collections and literally millions of documents and other historical artifacts. Among these irreplaceable treasures are the items on display in this exhibit. They are a small but superb selection of the more than 100,000 posters and other propaganda materials preserved in the Institution’s vaults.
During the worst conflict the world has ever known, propaganda images were sharpened into weapons of mass persuasion.