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WWII Anti-Japanese propaganda poster stamp

Object | Accession Number: 2018.233.24

Anti-Japanese propaganda poster stamp distributed in 1942, featuring a derogatory image of an animalistic Japanese soldier attacking a white woman. 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. The poster was designed by Harley Melzian, an American artist who worked with Artists for Victory. Artists for Victory was a New York-based organization of artists who used their talents to aid the war effort by staging exhibitions and poster competitions, as well as sponsoring portrait drawings, demonstrations of arts and crafts, and art instruction in military hospitals. After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, racist depictions of Japan and its people were distributed throughout the country. Images often portrayed individuals of Japanese descent with exaggeratedly slanted eyes and yellow skin. They were represented as dangerous, treacherous, and subhuman. This image shows a Japanese soldier with all of these features, as well as a wide, ape-like mouth, and with a knife in hand attacking a white (American) woman. The aim of the poster is to alienate the Japanese as “others” and show them and their culture as a threat to America. The propaganda also enflamed racist attitudes towards Japanese-Americans. Japanese-American soldiers had to fight in segregated army units, and in 1942, approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forcibly relocated to internment camps. They were only allowed to return to their homes in 1945, after the war ended. In many cases, their property, businesses, and other possessions had been sold or taken over by the non-Japanese-American population.

This is the Enemy
publication/distribution:  1942
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: 2023-03-02 09:36:07
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