Know Your Ally: America Prepares Her Soldiers for World War Two – Watch the Video!

American, Chinese, and British Allies in a WW2 Painting, 1943. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
American, Chinese, and British Allies in a WW2 Painting, 1943. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

During the Second World War, both the Nazis and the Allies made hundreds of films for propaganda purposes. Moving pictures were extremely popular, and so governments used them to persuade their people to think as they wanted them to. The Nazi leaders wanted to convince the German people that they were superior to all other nations. The Allies wanted to promote democracy and the equality of all people. The Allies knew that they had to unite to defeat the enemy, and if they were to fight together they needed to know each other better.

This was the idea behind a series of films made by the United States War Department and produced by the Signal Corps. In December 1941 the United States entered the war, and it was important that Americans knew about their allies, especially the British. This particular documentary compares differences between the Americans and British – speech, sports, and other aspects of everyday life. It does this in a humorous way. But it wanted to show too that despite the differences, the British and Americans had many things in common, like their love of democracy and freedom.

Many Americans didn’t understand the events that lead to the war, and this documentary explains what happened. It is careful to point out that the British always wanted peace, and tried everything to avoid war. The narrator of the film emphasizes the bravery of the British, especially during the Battle of Britain, and the cruelty of the Nazis. It also talks about some of the stories the Nazis told about the British. It calls upon Americans and British to unite against Hitler’s tyranny.

The film is also a sort of manual of etiquette, advising US soldiers how to behave when they were stationed in Britain, so as to avoid misunderstandings.