Contradictory to the images of African-Americans in Nazi propaganda shown on the home front, this World War II leaflet is an example of how the regime’s propagandists tried to weaponize racism against the U.S. Army. While it is dubious that these propaganda leaflets had much success within the American ranks, this poster is critical to understanding how the Nazis saw American domestic racism as an easy tool for exploitation. They believed that racial injustice undermined American claims of being a champion of democracy and human rights, weakening American moral authority and undermining U.S. foreign policy. Nazi propagandist tailored their message to exploit racial divisions within the still-segregated U.S. Army. The leaflets reminded Black soldiers of the inequalities of American life, urging them to surrender to German troops rather than be the “cannon-fodder” for a an “Uncle Sam” that denied them equality. Critically, the poster appeals to the soldiers’ children as a reason not to fight, using two images of young Black toddlers to tempt the soldiers into giving up.
Source: German propaganda leaflet “Tiny Tots” (November 1944), United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Edward Boehm Collection.
Asking Black GIs to surrender (1944) by Niamh Neville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://blackcentraleurope.com/who-we-are/.