Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

V for Victory

Object | Accession Number: 2018.233.1

“V for Victory” campaign poster stamp distributed in the United States during World War II. Poster stamps were collectable stamps, slightly larger than postage stamps, with designs similar to posters. Although they were not valid for postage, poster stamps could be affixed to letters and envelopes as a means for fundraising, propaganda, and educational purposes. In early 1941, the “V for Victory” campaign was conceived by Victor de Laveleye, who broadcast for the BBC in German-occupied Belgium. He proposed the idea to his audience because “V” is the first letter of the French and English words for “victory” (victoire and victory), as well as the Flemish and Dutch word for “freedom” (vrijeid). He then called on his listeners to write the V everywhere as an act of resistance against the occupiers. The idea caught on and spread to the Netherlands, northern France, and England. Later, it was observed that the Morse code for “V,” three dots and a dash (. . . —) were coincidentally the first three notes of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. British radio broadcaster, Douglas E. Ritchie (broadcasting under the name, Colonel V. Britton) further encouraged the V as an act of resistance, and used Beethoven’s symphony as the theme song for his program. It was so popular, Winston Churchill began flashing the V sign with his index and middle finger in public. The campaign caught on in the still neutral United States, and in the late summer of 1941, ephemera began appearing with “V for Victory” and the Morse code “V” printed on them. After America entered the war in December 1941, the campaign was officially made a part of the government’s efforts.

publication/distribution:  1941 August-1945
distribution: United States
War Propaganda
Object Type
Poster stamps (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Forrest James Robinson, Jr.
Record last modified: 2021-02-10 09:44:18
This page: