Photo Essays

Hitler’s Wanted Poster and Other Visual Snapshots of New York During WWII

by Hrag Vartanian on October 3, 2012

Fight for Freedom, an interventionist group, “Wanted for Murder: Adolf Schicklgruber Alias Hitler” (1941) produced this “wanted” poster 1941 depicting Adolf Hitler as a criminal. (all images courtesy New-York Historical Society unless otherwise noted)

The New-York Historical Society has a massive show that explores the role of New York in World War II, WWII & NYC. While the front lines of the Second World War raged across the oceans, the great American metropolis gave more than most as it mobilized its citizenry, its resources, and its elites to fight the war on all fronts.

“If the American men and women who fought and won World War II can be described as the Greatest Generation, then New York’s unsurpassed contributions to the war effort can be said to have earned it the title ‘Greatest City,’” says Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of New-York Historical. “What award-winning WWII & NYC curator Marci Reaven will show in this fascinating, and often astonishing exhibition, is how central the city was to a war whose battles were fought thousands of miles away—a story little known by most people today.”

The images they’ve amassed are fascinating documents of that era. The wanted poster for Hitler, by the interventionist group Fight for Freedom, is an effective piece of propaganda, while Thomas Benton’s “Embarkation—Prelude to Death (Year of Peril)” (1942) is a grim reminder about the fate that awaited over 400,000 Americans who served in the military.

E. McKnight Kauffer (1890–1954), “Target No. 1 New York City” (1942) (Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives)

Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000), “No. 2, Main Control Panel, Nerve Center of Ship” (1944) (United States Coast Guard Museum, New London, CT. Courtesy of the US Coast Guard Historian’s Office)

Jews at Nazi Protest Carrying Signs, November 15, 1938 (© Bettmann/CORBIS)

Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975), “Embarkation—Prelude to Death (Year of Peril)” (1942), oil on canvas (State Historical Society of Missouri Art Collection. Art © T.H. and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

Macy’s, “We’ve Enlisted! There Will Be No Parade This Thanksgiving” (1942) (Courtesy of Macy’s Inc. Archives)

Irving Boyer, “Prospect Park” (ca. 1942–1944). oil on academy board (New-York Historical Society, Gift of Selwyn L. Boyer, from the Boyer Family Collection)

John Philip Falter (1910–1982), “Don’t miss your great opportunity— The Navy needs you in the WAVES” (1944), lithograph. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

Minerva Matzkowitz at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Official U.S. Navy Photo, New-York Historical Society.

The WWII & NYC is on display at the New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, Manhattan) until May 27.

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