Canadian Wartime Propaganda

First World War Propaganda Poster

If You Cannot Give a Life You Can Save a Life by Helping the Canadian Red Cross,  CWM 19900076-809

If You Cannot Give a Life You Can Save a Life by Helping the Canadian Red Cross

This poster uses words and stark, simple graphics to persuade viewers to give money to the Canadian Red Cross. The phrase "giving a life", which, in light of the war's unexpectedly heavy casualties, may have been intended (and understood by readers) quite literally, establishes an equivalence of sacrifice between those serving overseas, at the war front, and those who can yet serve by giving at home. Its immediacy is clear and powerful: support at home saves lives abroad.

Note here that the language of appeal is less overtly partisan than that found in many recruiting posters or war bond drives. It speaks directly to the viewer's humanity, and on a very emotional level. Other Red Cross posters would employ similar techniques, often using an angelic, life-saving nurse in the foreground, imploring - in her vibrant, arrestingly rendered eyes and body language - assistance for the soldiers who fight, and are wounded, in the background images.

Designer and printer unknown
Possibly published by the Canadian Red Cross
Commercial colour print, undated, Canada
CWM 19900076-809

First World War index | Next >>

Canadian War Museum
1 Vimy Place
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0M8
Tel. (819) 776-8652
toll-free 1-800-555-5621