The function of the Office of War Information of the US was to use various types of information influence during World War II to achieve propaganda goals.


At the beginning of World War II, Germany and its allies were holding a successful campaign forcing their enemies to give up the resistance and obey the proposed Nazi world order. The aggressors spent a plethora of efforts to break the spirit of the part of the world that did not recognize fascist ideology and oppressive German policies. Germany, Japan, and Italy did not use only the military force to achieve their victory goal but also used the power of information and propaganda. Thus, the United States had to find an answer to such a vile approach.

In 1941, plenty of Americans believed that the crucial aim of the United States was to overcome the consequences of the Great Depression. They did not want to be involved in the international campaign against the aggressors. However, after the events at Pearl Harbor, their intentions changed, and they had enough will to fight the enemy.

In order to foster such a fighting spirit of the citizens, Roosevelt decided to establish a relevant agency. The Office of War Information (OWI) was an establishment created on June 13, 1942, to pursue the aims of patriotic propaganda. Photographers of OWI documented the US culture and routine life through the prism of demonstrating military factories, American soldiers’ achievements, and provocative slogans.

The central purpose of the Office of War Information was to use different emotional content to inspire Americans to take part in the War voluntarily and describe the US victories that sometimes were fake. OWI advised citizens to be calm and believe in the inevitable triumph. Moreover, OWI held some foreign propaganda campaigns in China, Europe, and Africa.

OWI used diverse ways to influence the American public effectively. Primary sources of propaganda were films, cartoons, and posters. The messages were bright, clear, and easy to understand, which stimulated targeted emotions instantly. The Office of War Information cooperated with Hollywood, which, to inspire patriotism intentions, filmed plenty of movies with Yankee Doodle Dandy and Pin-Up Girl among them.

Disney released a famous cartoon in which Donald Duck throws a tomato at Hitler. Moreover, Warner Brothers made Bugs Bunny to battle the soldiers of Japan. Then, one of the historical online archives provides the following example of the posters design. Below, the example of the poster of 1942 available in various archives is given.

The example of the poster of 1942

The poster contains a plain but terrifying idea that a Japanese soldier is watching every American citizen and planning something bad. It kept the US public in a constant fear that the enemy was close, and it was necessary to fight the evil back to gain an opportunity to prosper and be free.

The design might seem poor, but the fundamental idea of any propaganda is to make a significant impact on recipients. This picture, like many others, even today, may wake a feeling of fear and inconvenience. Thus, although the poster has a simple structure and short formulation, it is still an effective propaganda tool.

Primarily, OWI was created to wage war at the domestic informational front, facilitating American citizens to see the future in bright victorious colors and recruiting them into the army. It reinforced the goals that the United States achieved during World War II in the citizens’ consciousness. After the War, there was no further need for the functioning of the Office of War Information. Thus, OWI stopped to operate in 1945 but was transformed into several US informational departments and agencies.