Don’t do it, Mother – Leave the Children Where They Are


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During World War II, propagandist posters were used to steer the people’s thoughts in a direction that would better help the larger communities as a whole. One of the most popular ones, were posters aimed towards the betterment of families. “Don’t Do It, Mother” and those similar to it was used to influence parents and guardians to send their children away to the countryside to keep them safe. Created by the Anderson Committee and further implemented by The Ministry of Health, Operation Pied Piper was a go.

“Don’t Do It, Mother” is not part of a larger series and although the author is unknown there were other posters available such as an older gentleman telling a young boy that he needs to evacuate and that it is the job of the adults to protect them. These posters were created from 1939-1945 to constantly remind parents that children should not be in urban areas, and need to stay away to be safe.

After the country was divided into three sections: evacuation, neutral and reception –children along with some women were sent to live with billets, host families. Operation Pied Piper became one of the biggest mass movements of peoples in British history. Within the first four days of September of 1939 about 3 million people were transported from urban communities to the countryside. Some, instead were shipped off to Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

However, from this time until the Battle of France of 1940, this was the time of The Phoney War, some parents and guardians were not entirely convinced of the dangers, and so, steadily brought their children back. This explains the “Don’t Do It, Mother” poster as the mother of two boys blissfully playing in the shade of a tree, looks contemplative about something. Behind her, an astral project of Hitler is encouraging her to bring her children back to the city he is pointing to in the distance. By using this picture is shows to mothers that bringing the kids back at this point in time is not the wisest decision, even if they miss them, as it is something Hitler wants and he does not want to keep the children safe. Also, to bring them back would be doing what Hitler wants and as good people of Britain, giving into fascism in any way is not acceptable. This poster would also help keep the children away as during that autumn of 1940, The Blitz started happening.


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  1. Some very good information in this post! You mention “evacuation zones” above. Could you expand a bit on this? What were these zones? Where were they located? What was considered safe and what dangerous?

  2. This was something I came across when I was doing my poster. It had a link to mothers and the second big wave of evacuation. Looking at the posters you have on your blog shows the different ways the propagandized it.

  3. This actually resignates with my groups propaganda project. Our lead heroine, along with her family was uprooted and torn from her home. Like your research, she was sent for safety, and resented her parents in doing so. This can cause friction in the household, as if war wasn’t doing that enough. I guess this is where the ‘peoples war’ came into play.

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