Used both to inform the population and for propaganda purposes, posters were used on a considerable scale by every nation at war. As a rapid and direct means of communication, these posters illustrate the reality of war experienced on a daily basis behind the lines. They also highlight how public imagination could be manipulated. The museum conserves over a thousand posters, some are lithography prints, and others, mainly German, written messages and notices.
At the beginning of the century, 45% of the French population lived in the countryside and had a strong tradition for crafts. A great majority of countrymen fought in the war and during their long periods in the trenches, they occupied their time by transforming any material they could find into souvenirs.
> Post Cards
A well known means of communication, post cards were also used during the Great War for propaganda purposes, especially through the use of caricatures and photo stories. Several thousand, listed by theme and geographical origin, are conserved in the Historial’s collections.
>The Children of the Great War
Children were not spared during the war, their lives were torn apart and they experienced the same amount of suffering as the rest of the population. Forced to participate in the war effort, they were not only used in propaganda but also targeted by it.
>Dolls at War
The war of the dolls began well before 1914. In 1863, more than 100 shops solely devoted to the sale of dolls could be found in Paris, but 50 years later, despite the intervention of historians such as Claretie and D’Allemagne or artists like Poulbot and Rabier, their French manufacturers could not be revived.
>Toys and Games of 1914-1918
The sale of toys and games flourished during the industrialisation of the late 18th century, but the fun and games were joined by a radical change in social reflection: In 1914, “At once, I demonstrated my great patriotism by trampling my sister’s plastic doll that had been ‘made in Germany’” said Simone de Beauvoir, demonstrating both the ideological and affectionate feelings that toys and games could provoke at the time.
PDF – Themes of the collection (in french only)