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Propaganda poster stamp warning of subversive elements during WWII

Object | Accession Number: 2018.233.21

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    Propaganda poster stamp warning of subversive elements during WWII


    Brief Narrative
    Anti-Fifth Column poster stamp featuring a boot, clad in red, white, and blue, stomping on a subversive snake, distributed in the United States between 1940 and 1945. 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. Snakes or serpents are often associated with negative aspects such as temptation, chaos, and lies, all of which would be tactics employed by a fifth column agent. Fifth column refers to a group of people residing in a country, who actively support a wartime enemy. These people engage in subversive activities to aid the enemy, hinder their country’s defensive capability, or sew discord among the population. Germany’s rapid conquest of Western Europe in 1940 led many Americans to believe that saboteurs had aided the German military. Many feared that German, Italian, and Japanese-Americans could be carrying out similar activities in the US to support the Axis powers. Fifth column fears were so prevalent that Congress passed the Alien Registration Act, which made it a crime to advocate for the overthrow of the government and required registration of unnaturalized citizens. German and Italian-Americans were initially viewed with suspicion. After America entered the war, both groups declared their loyalty by supporting the war effort and any remaining doubts faded. However, Japanese-Americans, who showed the same support and loyalty, did not receive the same absolution. Suspicions against Japanese-Americans were reinforced by long-standing racist stereotypes and restrictive laws that limited Asian pathways to citizenship. In 1942, under Executive Order 9066, approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and held in internment camps, where they were held until 1945.
    Crush the 5th Column
    publication/distribution:  1940-1945
    publication: New York (N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Forrest James Robinson, Jr.
    front, top, printed, white : EVERY / AMERICAN’S / DUTY
    front, center, printed, navy blue ink, white : CRUSH
    front, bottom, printed, navy blue ink, white : the 5th COLUMN
    front, bottom, printed, navy blue ink : PROPAGANDA BY EVER READY LABEL CORP. NEW YORK.N.Y.
    back, printed, black ink : STEP / ON IT / AMERICANS / *** / THESE LABELS DO A / “STICK-TIGHT” JOB… / Priced to crush / the 5th Column. / 1000 for $1.00 / Special Prices / in Quantities. / *** / EVER READY LABEL / Corporation / 141 E. 25th St. New York, N.Y.
    Publisher: Ever Ready Label Corporation

    Physical Details

    War Propaganda
    Object Type
    Poster stamps (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular poster stamp on white paper with a graphic design, perforated edges on the right and left sides, and an adhesive backing. The stamp features a central image of a leg wearing a red and white striped spat and black shoes stepping on a white snake with a crosshatched red pattern on its back. The background is comprised of thin diagonal red lines and white stars radiating out from a white sunburst that surrounds the snake. There is a navy blue text box with white text along the top, a diagonal white block of text outlined in navy blue that runs diagonally across the center, navy blue and white block text below the snake, and a thin white text box with navy blue text at the bottom. On the back are thirteen lines of black text with a row of three stars below the top three and above the bottom three lines of text.
    overall: Height: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Width: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm)
    overall : paper, ink, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    United States.

    Administrative Notes

    The poster stamp was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Forrest J. Robinson, Jr.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-07 10:35:28
    This page:

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