Uniting Nations

Today’s Poster. We are all familiar today with the organisation the United Nations. What’s less well known is the name dates back to the stage of World War Two when the Axis powers had united many of the rest of the world against them. From Wiki:

“On New Year’s Day 1942, the Allied “Big Four” (the US, the UK, the USSR, and China) signed a short document which later came to be known as the United Nations Declaration and the next day the representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures.”

Although the term ‘The Allies’ was usually used (a response term to ‘The Axis‘, from the ‘Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis’) Wiki again states: “Declaration by United Nations was the basis of the modern UN. The term “United Nations” became synonymous during the war with the Allies and was considered to be the formal name that they were fighting under.”


Here a classic Twentieth Century propaganda poster, from 1943, by Leslie Ragan (signed lower left) and produced by the US Office of War Information features a wall of flags, and the three arms of war of the time; army, navy and air force are represented by generic silhouettes of battleships, tanks and aircraft. Ragan was probably best known for his pre-war travel and rail travel advertising posters. I’m not sure if the artist was guided on any order of precedence of the country flags, and a good trick for most of us today would be to reel off the countries whose flags are depicted, several of which have changed since World War Two! A even neater trick is which flag is absent, that arguably should be there. (Answers below.)

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

From here: “The poster features the flags of those countries or governments-in-exile that pledged to support the Allied effort (beginning from the top-left corner, and continuing in rows from left to right: Haiti, Norway, Brazil, the United States, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom, Greece, Guatemala [behind the British Flag], South Africa, Czechoslovakia, China, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, Canada, the Soviet Union, Belgium, Bolivia, Yugoslavia, Honduras, Panama, Iraq, India, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Australia, the Philippines, Poland, Mexico, The Netherlands and New Zealand) above the on-going war machine that the United Nations represented. The absence of the Free French flag is unusual. This poster is important because it represents the origins of the United Nations as a wartime alliance (before it was a concrete organization).”

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