Saturday, November 19, 2016

Frankie Joe Kicks the Bucket

In today's episode of Salzback Saturday, we observe the 100th anniversary of the death of Franz Josef (Francis Joseph, if you prefer the Anglicized version of his name), Emperor of Austria-Hungary, on November 21, 1916. The 86-year-old Hapsburg-Lorraine monarch, on the throne since 1848 (consider who the world leaders were in 1948 — when Queen Elizabeth was still a princess — to give yourself an idea of how long that is) had been in declining health for a few years.

Memorial cartoons today are no better today than they were back then, and perhaps they have gotten worse. I did not see any Imperial Eagle With A Single Tear, or St. Peter Cheerily Welcoming Franz At The Pearly Gates.
"Peace" by Nelson Harding for Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 22, 1916
From what I've been able to find, most American cartoonists neither praised nor castigated the Emperor. Nelson Harding (above) draws a cold irony about the Emperor finding peace after his country had launched the war then having consumed Europe for two years and counting. Bill Sykes's cartoon below looks instead to the succession of Franz Josef's grandnephew, Karl. If there was supposed to be something The Future was whispering to History, sadly, the Philadelphia Evening Ledger neglected to print it.
"Concerning the New Emperor" by Charles "Bill" Sykes for Philadelphia Evening Ledger, November 23, 1916
Of the cartoons I found, only John McCutcheon's attempted to assess the Emperor's legacy. For those unfamiliar with European history, Austria-Hungary at the start of the War was considerably larger than the two countries are today. The Empire covered the present-day Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and portions of Italy, Poland, Ukraine and Romania. Wars had flared up in the Balkans shortly before World War I, and would rekindle in the early 1920s.
"Francis Joseph's Hyphenated Family..." by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune, November 22, 1918
To appreciate McCutcheon's cartoon, you must also consider the campaign against "Hyphenated Americans" during the presidential election, which would only intensify once the U.S. entered the War.

I wanted to include some cartoons from the belligerent nations here; The Great War: 1914-1918, The Cartoonists Vision includes one by a British cartoonist (I can't make out the signature) depicting Kaiser Wilhelm drawing back from Franz Josef's bier, musing, "Well, you did have the luck of dying in your bed. I wonder whether I shall!" The shadow of a noose appears on the wall above the Kaiser's shadow.

Compared to Great Britain, Italy and Russia were more directly engaged in fighting Austria-Hungary, so their cartoonists take a more caustic view of the Emperor. This first Italian cartoon was no doubt drawn before Franz Josef shuffled off his mortal coil, although it appeared in the United States afterward. Kaiser Wilhelm and Emperor Franz Josef are the thumb and forefinger of the hand; the other fingers are Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Sultan Mehmet V of Turkey, and Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany.
"The Black Hand of Europe" by "Egggini" for Il 420, Florence, ca. November, 1916
This Italian cartoon is probably representative of its country's response to the Emperor's death, and probably Russia's as well. (I suspect Russian cartoonists heaped even worse ignominy on the Emperor, perhaps having his corpse shredded by wild pigs. If there were such cartoons, they were too rude for American editors of the time, and I have yet to master Googling in the Cyrillic alphabet to find Russian sources.) The caption translates to "Need for Hygeine"; the cart reads "Universal Sanitation."
"Need for Hygeine" drawn for Numero, Turin, December 3, 1916.

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