Saturday, September 24, 2016

Whom to Believe?

Streitkräfteback Saturday returns yet again to the cartoons running in the papers 100 years ago today. Give or take a few days.

When last we checked in on the war in Europe, the Germans were starving. At least, that's what the French (and those humorless Russians, for that matter) would have you believe.
"If Only the Dove of Peace Would Come!" by K. J. Hampol in Le Pêle Mêle, Paris, September, 1916
Not surprisingly, I haven't been finding many German cartoons lamenting food shortages. Admittedly, I'm not scouring German magazines, but one would think that if there were such cartoons, the Allied and Ally-sympathetic press would have picked up on them. So what were German cartoonists drawing about?
"The Strong Lungs of Messrs. Asquith and Briand" by E. Schilling in Wieland, Munich, September, 1916
The Schilling cartoon refers to British Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and to Aristide Briand, who held the French offices of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister at this point. My read on the cartoon is that it is lampooning them for empty belligerent talk while waving laurels of peace. German and German-American media were also belittling reports of Allied gains at the Somme, where the battle lines would continue to go back and forth for some time to come.

Under the category of Sour Grapes, we have another cartoon from Wieland, this about British victories at Calais, France and Saloniki (present day Thessalonika), Greece:
"Two Victories" by W. Trier in Wieland, Munich. September, 1916

With all sides weary of war, some Europeans hoped that America would step in as a neutral power to broker a peace deal.
"The Angel Of Peace Cannot Bother..." in Simplicissimus, Munich, September, 1916
Returning to the American press, this Chicago Examiner cartoon depicting, in the background, conflicting claims about the progress of the war offers proof that we've been complaining about our election campaigns for longer than you or I or grandpa has been around.
"Under Fire" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, September 26, 1916

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