Saturday, September 16, 2017

German Cartoonists and the War

After last week's display of Louis Raemaekers cartoons, Spottenback Saturday now grants a few German cartoonists of World War I a chance to give their say. Except for the Gulbransson cartoon, these cartoons were reprinted in contemporary issues of Cartoons Magazine, published out of Chicago, which means they must have had to get past both German and U.S. wartime censors. As such, it is possible that they may not necessarily be the best examples of German wartime satire.
"The Blood Bath," From Der Brummer, Berlin, 1917
American troops joined the fighting in Europe in August of 1917, and patriotic fervor in the U.S. was at a peak, so the above cartoon very much misrepresents American popular feeling. The nations wading in the blood bath do not include Germany or its allies, which would have gotten this cartoon (and possibly its cartoonist) spiked.

German government dismissed "America's worthless assistance" to the Entente powers. Gustav Brandt here offers one idea to buttress the official government line, a fine example of the jugendstil of bold, flat areas of solid color that became popular among German cartoonists of the early 20th Century.
by Gustav Brandt in Kladderadatsch, Berlin
Better known west of the Maginot Line as art nouveau, jugendstil gets its name from Jugend, a cultural magazine published in Munich. Brandt himself (1861-1919) was at this time a long-established cartoonist whose earlier cartoons conformed to 19th Century tastes for greater detail and verisimilitude.

Here's another example of jugendstil, with a similar jab at Wilson as a money-grubbing capitalist, this time from a Simplicissimus cartoonist about Pope Benedict XV's peace proposal.
"Wilson's Answer" by Olaf Gulbransson in Simplicissimus, Munich, September 18, 1917
Another Kladderadatsich cartoonist lampoons the refusal of England's Lloyd George, the U.S.'s Wilson and France's Poincaré to consider German armistice proposals; each had declared that an end to Hohenzollern rule of Germany was a prerequisite condition for peace.
"We Will Never Negotiate" by unidentified cartoonist in Kladderadatsch, Berlin
Speaking of Russia, Wilhelm Schulz in the brash satirical magazine Simplicissimus portrays Germany proffering a helping hand to its eastern neighbor. Russia, however, is threatened by its erstwhile allies.
"Helpless Russia" by Wilhelm Schulz in Simplicissimus, Munich, July 17, 1917
The U.S. was not the only Johnny-come-marching-lately into the Great War. In spite of its recent history with England and Russia, and the fact that its rival Japan had also sided with the Entente, China declared war on Germany in August, 1917.
"Oriental Eyes" by W.A. Wellner in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, August, 1917
Given British and Russian imperialist designs on China, there was significant support in military and government circles for an alliance with Germany; one such supporter was former President/future Premier Sun Yat-sen. But the government of Duan Qirui viewed an Entente victory as more likely than a victory by the Central powers and hoped to gain territory at any post-war bargaining table. (They would be bitterly disappointed.)
"Tremble, Germania!" by Carl Olof Petersen in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, July 23, 1917
The sinking of the Athos I with 900 Chinese workers aboard by a German U-boat off the coast of Malta in February, 1917, furthermore, served as China's Lusitania moment. Yet if Germany was officially unconcerned with America's entry into the war, it was hardly any more worried about the Chinese navy.

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