What is a source analysis?
Analysis = detailed examination of the elements or
structure of something
A source is anything that has been left behind by the past. It might
be a document, but it might alternatively be a building or a picture
or a piece of ephemera – a train ticket perhaps or a plastic cup.
They are called 'sources' because they provide us with information
which can add to the sum of our knowledge of the past.
Analysis occurs at two levels — literal and analytical.
First look at the literal level — what the poster contains
visually and textually.
Check the ﬁve aspects"
Colour: The colours used are bold
and bright, they will quickly grab
Scale: The Japanese soldier is portrayed as massive,
easily able to defeat the apparently undefended
Australia. His size also suggests how quickly he could
be on Australia’s shores.
Symbols: Behind the soldier is the rising sun of the
Japanese ﬂag. The message is that the Japanese ﬂag
could soon ﬂy over Australia.
Text: The text suggests that the
options are clear for Australia, and
that everyone will need to do their
bit if the country is to survive.
Impact: The impact of this poster would be signiﬁcant.
Even at a quick glance it is easy to see that Australia is
under imminent threat of invasion.
Accurate historical information is needed to give the poster its
correct context, thereby enhancing understanding and
appreciation of the poster's intent.
Who is the intended audience of this poster?
What message is the poster portraying?
What is the historical context? What was
happening at the time the poster was produced?
is this an effective poster?
Is there a suggestion as to what would happen if
the message was (a) accepted or (b) ignored?
Ask speciﬁc analysis questions"
Colour: Pale yellow represents Germany and its occupied territories. Russia
is in red, representing communism and Britain, in grave-earth brown, is dying
Scale: Germany and occupied territory dominate the image, as does the
clenched armoured German ﬁst punching Stalin's caricatured face. The large
cross rises above Churchill's (and Britain's) grave.
Symbols: The ﬁst represents Germany's power and might. The hammer and
sickle represent Russia and the cross over Britain suggests its death is
imminent. German prosperity is represented by the baby (new birth), factory
Text: The slogan on this poster translates as ‘Europe's victory — your
prosperity’. Europe (German-occupied Europe) will be better off when
Germany wins the war.
Impact: Signiﬁcant. Appeals to German people's desire for security and living
space. Victory is near and so is an improved standard of living for Germany.
Who is the intended audience of this poster? German civilians.
What message is the poster portraying? Victory is at hand. Russia and
Britain will soon fall.
What is the historical context? British forces were pushed out of Europe
in 1940. Britain was badly savaged during the Battle of Britain. Now
Germany was invading Russia and had made initial rapid advances.
Is there a suggestion as to what would happen? If the people support
Germany's war efforts, then prosperity and an improved living standard will
Is this an effective poster? The poster is effective in the way
that the government probably intended at the time — to make
US citizens fear Nazi Germany. The illustration depicts
Germany's power and the threat it posed to American
freedoms; the text declares the United States' equal
determination to defeat this threat. Important freedoms as
expressed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and labour
and business freedoms were at risk, since Nazi Germany
would destroy these. While the viewer today can imagine such
a poster creating fear and dread, and concern for their
democratic rights and freedoms in the United States, there is
insufﬁcient information available to say to what extend the
poster altered people's thinking and/or actions at that time. It
may have reinforced negative ideas about Nazi Germany, but
it cannot be stated categorically that it dramatically changed
people's thinking and/or actions.
Colour: The crushing hand of the Nazis dominates through its size and
darker colour; the founding US documents are paler, fading away
except for their titles, which are boldly imprinted in people's minds.
Scale: The German hand takes up most of the space, its power
crushing valued rights and freedoms.
Symbols: The Nazi swastika is shown twice (both in the ring and on
the cuff of the sleeve). The three crushed documents are founding
documents of an independent United States and symbolise their
enshrined system of government and citizens' rights.
Text: The text is designed to reassure Americans that US service
personnel are working to defeat Germany and preserve their freedoms
Impact: This is a dramatic image showing the power of Nazism and US
determination to overcome that threat and preserve its values.
Who is the intended audience of this poster? US citizens.
What message is the poster portraying? The United States will prevail
over the power and might of Germany.
What is the historical context? It was important to keep morale high at
home as well as successfully conduct the war. In 1943, the year this
poster was created, the United States was having greater success in the
Paciﬁc than in Europe, where the planned invasion of France had been
delayed. There was a need to reassure the American people that they
would win the war in Europe.
Is there a suggestion as to what would happen? Victory would
protect rights and freedoms; defeat would see them crushed.
Is this an effective poster? The poster is effective. It clearly shows
Germany's power and might in the illustration and the United States'
equal determination in the text.