After the Second World War, protest the United States and the Soviet Union continued to develop and test nuclear weapons. Britain became the third nuclear power in the late 1950s.
Many people in Britain were frightened and horrified by these actions. There was a rise in protests against nuclear weapons, with many organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which was launched in February 1958. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, support for anti-nuclear campaigning grew dramatically and protests like the annual Aldermaston march attracted thousands of participants.
In 1963 the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty banned all but underground nuclear testing. As a result, anti-nuclear campaigning died down. CND were keen to maintain their profile and remain relevant and so began to give their support to other counter-culture protests, particularly against the Vietnam War. This conflict became a target of protest in Britain, even though there was no direct British involvement in the fighting.
Here are six protest posters from the 1960s and 1970s.
Let Us Take The Risks Of Peace Upon Ourselves
Let Us Take the Risks of Peace Upon Ourselves poster published by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1965. Quakers have continually campaigned against war, in light of their core belief in pacifism.
Reproduced with kind permission of The Religious Society of Friends in Britain.
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Easter March 1966
Easter March 1966 poster produced for CND to promote a march between High Wycombe and central London. It was designed by Ian McLaren, whose abstract imagery reflected both the era and the practical need to avoid overtly political imagery so as to be permitted for display at London Transport sites.
Ian McLaren, Easter March 1966 (CND)
No poster designed by Ian McLaren for CND in 1967. The mushroom cloud image, impactful slogan, anti-nuclear symbol and text comparing the economic cost of nuclear weapons to things like schools and roads were all key parts of anti-nuclear messaging.
End Bad Breath
End Bad Breath poster depicts US aircraft bombing Vietnamese houses in the mouth of a caricature of Uncle Sam. It was designed by American graphic designer Seymour Chwast, founding partner of the influential Push Pin Studios, in 1967.
Reproduced with kind permission of The Pushpin Group Inc.
Fuck W*r poster, an American design from 1970, incorporates an angry and sarcastic message within Gerald Holtom’s nuclear disarmament symbol to protest against the Vietnam War. By this time, Holtom’s design was often used as a more general symbol of peace.
Under Nixon 3 Million Tons Of Bombs Dropped On Indochina
Under Nixon 3 Million Tons of Bombs Dropped on Indochina poster, designed by American artist David G Bragin in 1972 for the US anti-Vietnam War groups, the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice and the Campaign to End the Air War, New York.
Reproduced with kind permission DGB Design, Inc.