During World War 2, the American government’s propaganda posters were not limited to caricatures of Adolf Hitler, General Hideki Tojo, and Benito Mussolini. The Allied forces were fighting an additional enemy as well: venereal diseases.
Click here to see the military’s vintage STD posters>
According to military medical records, “In World War I, the Army lost nearly 7 million person-days and discharged more than 10,000 men because of STDs. Only the great influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 accounted for more loss of duty during that war.”
So when syphilis and gonorrhea outbreaks spread in the beginning of World War II, the government launched a scare-tactic campaign against STDs. Battalions would be shown subtly nicknamed “Susie Rotten-crotch” films, all of which depicted a similar story: Soldier meets a local temptress, they have sex, and the soldier contracts a venereal disease. One famous movie was titled “USS VD: Ship of Shame.”
In addition to the films the government also produced a series of posters to encourage pure soldiers to fend off diseased and scheming ladies of the night. Captions spouted “facts” such as “98% of all procurable women have venereal disease.”
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