Selections from the Tetlie Collection of WWII Propaganda Posters

February 18–April 8, 2022
Object Study Room (Center for Art and Dance 205)
Curated by Dolores Peters, Associate Professor Emerita of History

CONTENT NOTICE: This exhibition contains symbols of hate, antisemitic imagery, and racist tropes.


About the Exhibition

View the virtual exhibition here.

Throughout World War II the Nazis saturated German-occupied Europe with posters meant to manipulate the traditions, anxieties, and political divisions of defeated countries to serve the Nazi agenda of pacification, persuasion, and terror. Following the liberation of Europe, General Dwight Eisenhower assigned historian Duncan Emrich to collect posters as evidence of Nazi oppression. These very posters form the core of the Tetlie Collection of WWII Propaganda Posters held by St. Olaf College. Selected from over a hundred examples gathered from across Europe, the seven posters in this exhibition target occupied France. Six of the posters exemplify Nazi attempts to recruit French soldiers to fight the Soviet Union; to lure French people to do war work in Germany; and to make known the “enemy”: Jews, capitalists, and Communists. The first poster, in contrast, glorifies the resistance efforts of the French National Front party against Nazi tyranny. 

This exhibition invites visitors to consider the posters as propaganda, as material culture, as historical evidence, and as a cultural act of collecting. This multi-disciplinary approach teases out meaning tied to a specific time and place, but also raises larger questions about our relationship to the past. What is the value of preserving such ephemera? What messages do the posters carry from the past to our present? How do the posters contribute to the complex discussion of systemic oppression and racialized violence in the 21st century?

Self-care resources are available in the gallery and at this link.

Visitors are encouraged to first experience The Making Known in the Flaten Art Museum’s north gallery, and may choose to proceed to Selections from the Tetlie Collection of WWII Propaganda Posters in the Object Study Room. Photography is not allowed in the Object Study Room and visitors will leave mobile phones and devices at the entrance.

Teaching Guide

The exhibition’s multidisciplinary Teaching Guide contains strategies for teaching with visual material, historical context, and thematic prompts for classroom reflection or group conversation.


Friday, February 18
5-7 p.m. Opening Reception | Flaten Art Museum
5:30 p.m.  Performance and Remarks | Flaten Art Museum
This event is open to the public. Visitors are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19. Masks are required indoors.

All are invited to a reception at the Flaten Art Museum, with curator’s remarks and a performance by the St. Olaf Chamber Singers at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 22
11:45 a.m. Curator’s Talk: Selections from the Tetlie Collection of WWII Propaganda Posters | Viking Theater and live-streaming

A conversation with Dolores Peters, Associate Professor Emerita of History.

Thursday, March 24
11:45 a.m. Inherent Vice: Ethical and Technical Considerations in Conservation | Viking Theater and live-streaming

A conversation with Dianna Clise, Paper Conservator, Midwest Art Conservation Center.

French Film Series: France During the Occupation
7 p.m. | Tomson Hall 210

This series of French films focusing on France during the Nazi Occupation is presented in partnership with St. Olaf’s French Program in the Department of Romance Languages.


Learn more about our values and commitments surrounding the Tetlie Collection of WWII Propaganda Posters.

For significant support in the development of this exhibition, special thanks to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and members of the exhibition’s Curatorial Advisory Committee: Christopher Chapp, Jimena Maida Colindres ’23, Maggie Epstein, Theo Mattson Jr. ’22, Hannah Niedermann ’22, María Pabón, Dolores Peters, Timothy Rainey II, Jillian Sparks, Christina M. Spiker, Jorie Van Nest ’22, Kari VanDerVeen, and Maria Vendetti. Conservation treatment of the posters on display was completed by Dianna Clise and Liz Sorokin of the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis, Minn.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (MA-30-19-0637). The views expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.