Saturday, August 6, 2016

All Noise on the Eastern Front

You know what country we hardly mentioned in these Salzback Saturday reviews since marking the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand?
Sidney Greene for New York Evening Herald, August 11, 1916
You would hardly know it to read American history books, but World War I was still going on in the country that declared war first. In August of 1916, Imperial Russia seized Stanislau (then in Austria, but now in Ukraine and called Ivano-Frankivsk), while Italy was advancing on Austria's Adriatic port city of Trieste.
"They That Take the Sword Shall Perish with the Sword" - Wm. C. Morris for Harper's Weekly Independent, August 21, 1916
It's difficult to read some of the labeling in this next cartoon; the jaws of the big nutcracker are labeled "Russians" and "Italians." Oh, by the way: things weren't quiet on the western front, either.
"The Allies' Nut Cracker" by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1916
In the Austrian press, this cartoonist awkwardly tries to put the best face on the loss of Trieste:
"His Majesty the Boy" by Franz Wacik in Die Muskete, Vienna, 1916
Viewed a century later, when we know that Trieste would remain Italian, Franz Wacik's cartoon doesn't make much sense. The pejorative title of the cartoon is also rather curious, given that at 46 years of age, the Italian king was a "boy" only when compared to Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, who turned 86 on August 18 (and died of pneumonia before year's end).

Continental cartoons of the period don't always translate well outside of their original language, especially where they were required to hew to a strict government line. When the propaganda works, it is entirely due to the artwork. Even when it doesn't, the artwork is the cartoon's only saving grace; I think this Russian cartoon falls in that category.
"Your Victorious Troops..." by "Kuk" for Lukomorye, Petrograd (St. Petersburg), 1916

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