WWII was the deadliest conflict in human history, and the involved powers worked to use any advantage possible to end the war in their favor. A large part of this strategy was propaganda, which was used to influence both public opinion and the morale and determination of the fighting soldiers. One form of propaganda came in the form of specially prepared leaflets being dropped onto enemy troops.
Over the course of the war, 40 million leaflets were dropped by the United States Army Air Forces alone, but the leaflets were dropped by all sides. Below are some of the leaflets that floated down onto tired, hungry, and sometimes desperate soldiers.
Dropped on US troops by Japanese
Dropped on the Japanese by the US military
Many of the leaflets dropped on Japan by the US served to install the fact that the US had far greater resources which would ultimately allow them to win, so why not give up now?
Dropped on German Soldiers By the United States
The front of the card translates to Did you hear us? The back of the card is text in German and says
German Soldiers on the Western Front
We heavy bombers will do no immediate harm to you. We leave this to the weapons of our tactical air force. We fly in German air space about 10,000 meters above your heads. Your fox holes are not our aim. Our aims are the factories producing your ammunition, railroad tracks which supply you and bridges which connect you with your home. We bombed the bridges of Julich on 29 October. We dropped 9,000 tons of explosives on Cologne in nine attacks from 28 to 31 October. We systemically bomb important war industries 50-100 kilometers behind your front.
Think about the destruction every time that we come with out four-engine bombers. We will be back soon.
You will hear from us again!
Dropped on Indian soldiers by the Japanese
Dropped on American Soldiers by the Germans
Germans Leaflets Dropped On Allied Forces in Italy
The United States Dropped Leaflets Before the Atomic Bomb To Warn Civilians
Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or a friend. In the next few days, four or more of the cities named on the reverse side of this leaflet will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories, which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique that they are using to prolong this useless war. Unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s well-known humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives.
America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique, which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace, which America will bring, will free the people from the oppression of the Japanese military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan.
You can restore peace by demanding new and better leaders who will end the War.
We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked, but at least four will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately
While it is impossible to know what kind of effect these types of documents have on masses of soldiers, similar leaflets have been used in many wars and continue to be used to this day as part of a greater strategy of psychological warfare. While reading one of the documents wasn’t likely to switch a soldiers mind, it could certainly play a part in the mindset of a solider towards the war or his role in it. It’s also likely that at least a few of those soldiers were just happy to see flyers dropped on their head that displayed a scantily-clad woman.