The imminent threat of bombings, gassings, and invasions from Nazi Germany in 1939 was a very real threat to England and her people. Morale was devastatingly low, the looming war was on every citizen's mind, be they civilian or military, young or old. England's ruling parties knew this, understood the fear that was running rampant in the country, and also knew they needed to do something to encourage their citizens. Short of evacuating them all to another country to wait out the war, there was a way to fight back, with sheer determination and the bravery of every Britain that they would not concede to the Nazis, no matter what. That way was with a propaganda campaign to strengthen the resolve of the English people.
When England knew it would be facing the Nazis in war, her leaders decided it would be wise to have posters spread across the country to help every citizen remember that they were not in the fight alone. Spring of 1939 saw the commission of said posters to be used in a great time of need. The king himself wanted his people to know that the posters meant that he was doing everything he could to defend them, their country, and their lives. He was using every avenue of defense he could to keep the Nazis out of England. It was intended to convey that message, even when the bombing raids began and continued to convey that message when London families were being ripped apart by sending their precious children to the countryside to be safe, instead of dying in the bombings.
There were several versions of the posters created. The specific poster "Keep Calm and Carry On" was never used, but placed into a reserve, in case of invasion by the Nazis. The other versions of the poster were used throughout the war, in every place from stores to bus depots. The budget for the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster was 20,600 pounds in 1939 and 5 million were created. It used the symbol of King George VI's crown at the top of the poster, with the phrase underneath it in bold capitalized letters. The background of the poster was red, while the crown and the lettering were gold.
The poster resurfaced and has gained popularity in recent years, specifically in 2000, mainly because of its message of hope. With the bombings of the World Trade Center in 2001, and the London train depot in 2005, it has resurfaced as a battle cry against terrorism world wide. It continues to stir pride and strength in the hearth of the British people, and they have graciously lent that to the rest of the world as a source of strength when times get dark. After all, they faced one of the darkest times in history with this poster as a mind set, in case of invasion, and they not only survived, but they thrived during that time. Their example is what gives the rest of the world strength to Keep Calm and Carry On.
You can now buy reproductions of this poster as well as t-shirts and other gifts. Check out Keep Calm and Carry On Poster to get yourself a copy.