The Centennial of the UK’s entrance into World War One

August 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

August 4th: One hundred years ago today, after Germany broke Belgium’s neutrality, the United Kingdom was forced to join World War I by declaring war on Germany.

"Women of Britain Joan of Arc Saved France" Bert Thomas, c. 1918. Fine Condition.

“Women of Britain Joan of Arc Saved France” Bert Thomas, c. 1918. Fine Condition.

The United Kingdom, a foundational force for the Allied Powers during World War I, declared war on Germany on August 4th, 1914 in response to Germany’s violation of the Treaty of London (1839) which guaranteed the protection of Belgium’s neutrality. The German chancellor at the time supposedly exlaimed his disbelief over how a war between Germany and the United Kingdom could be started over this “scrap of paper.” Bert Thomas, the artist of the image pictured above, was famous for his British wartime propaganda posters; in this case, the poster was meant to encourage civilians, namely female civilians, to purchase war bonds in support of the war against Germany. The symbolism behind this image is complex; his reference to Joan of Arc and an image of a female soldier suggest a few ideas about his methods for persuading the public. Referencing a religious icon of their ally’s history creates the notion that supporting Britain through war bonds is a religious duty and women, too, like the female soldier waving a sword, can heroically contribute in a time where women’s contribution to society was limited to their expected roles.


Check out our upcoming show titled “A Call to Action; Posters of the First World War” which includes over 100 original World War I propaganda posters. The Show will run from September 13- September  23rd at our gallery at 2201 Fourth Street, in Berkeley, CA.  


This post was written by Nicole Garson, Intern, UCB class of 2016 and Elizabeth Norris, Proprietor of Vintage European Posters

Our Shop is Open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 11-5 and select weekends.
2201 Fourth Street, Berkeley Corner of Allston Way

Please call 510 843 2201 or email vintage to confirm hours.

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