Saturday, January 12, 2019

War Is Over, If You Want It

In last Saturday's post about Teddy Roosevelt, I mentioned that German cartoonists were probably too preoccupied with domestic problems to take note of the passing of an American president; so it behooves me this Saturday to fill you in, dear reader, on those pressing matters over in die Vaterland.

"Übergangswirtschaft" by Wilhelm Schnarrenberger in Simplicissimus, Munich, January 7, 1919
With the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm and the renunciation of the throne by his son Crown Prince Wilhelm, Germany was thrust into a fundamental identity crisis. A republican government was established with social democrat Friedrich Ebert as chancellor, but labor strikes and partisan strife from the far left and far right threatened to overthrow the Weimar Republic from the outset.
"Berlin in War and in Peace" by Albert J. Taylor in Los Angeles Times, January, 1919
Taking advantage of a general strike declared on January 6, the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), a faction of the German Communist Party led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, sparked a violent uprising hoping to establish a communist state.
"Liebknecht" by Erich Schilling in Simplicissimus, Munich, January 21, 1919
As a member of the Reichstag, Liebknecht had been a prominent opponent of the Great War. His opposition got him sentenced to prison for high treason, but he was released as part of a general amnesty in October, 1918. Luxemburg, a Polish-born German citizen, taught Marxism and economics in Berlin, where Ebert had been among her students. She had also opposed the war, advocating general strikes in German and France to prevent it. She had misgivings about the Spartacist uprising, but supported it once it was underway.
"Pandora Has Nothing on This!" by Fred O. Seibel in Knickerbocker Press, New York, January, 1919
Seibel's crow's worries would be about 20 years premature; Ebert's government and paramilitary units made up of military veterans loyal to him succeeded in quashing the Spartacist uprising in a little over one week. 156 rebels and 17 of Ebert's men were killed in the fighting. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were arrested, beaten, and executed on January 15.
"Die Zerbrochene Waffe" by Werner Hammann in Kladderadatch,  Berlin, January 19, 1919
Meanwhile: after a rousing patriotic speech by the famed Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski, an uprising against German rule broke out in the Prussian city of Posen (present-day Poznań, Poland) on December 27, 1918. Werner Hammann's Michel (the German equivalent of Uncle Sam, John Bull, or Marianne) vainly brandishes his broken "militarism" rifle against the wolves and crows devouring Posen, his dying horse.
"Come On, Put 'em Up!" by Harry Tuthill in St. Louis Star, Dec. 1918/Jan. 1919

"A Little More Self-Determination..." by Guy R. Spencer in Omaha World, January, 1919
By January 15, the Polish "Citizens' Guard" had seized control of most of the province of Posen, and engaged in heavy fighting with the regular German army and irregular units. Paderewski was appointed Polish Prime Minister on January 18.
"Paderewski's Latest Composition" by Edward W. Gale in Los Angeles Times, January, 1919
The Greater Polish Uprising, as it came to be known, resulted in Poland winning most of the Prussian provinces of Posen and West Prussia, plus eastern portions of Upper Silesia and the area of Działdowo at the peace negotiations at Versailles. Germany retained a section of  East Prussia disconnected from the rest of Germany by a narrow corridor at the port of Gdansk (German Danzig) that provided Poland's only access to the Baltic Sea.
"Klassische Forderung" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, January 26, 1919
Poland, when it had any territory at all, had been landlocked since Napoleonic times, so granting it the Polish Corridor prompted Arthur Johnson to suggest sarcastically that perhaps the newly independent Czechoslovakia would demand a seaport, too. His cartoon refers to Act III, Scene 3 of The Winter's Tale, in which Antigonus's ship lands in Bohemia, described by Shakespeare as "a desert Country near the Sea."

Any mariners relying upon Shakespeare for navigation deserve, like Antigonus, to exit, pursued by a bear.
"Overlapping Claims" by Neal D. McCall in Portland (OR) Telegram, January, 1919
Down south at the Adriatic, the Entente had promised Italy Trieste and much of what is now the Croatian coastline in exchange for Italy declaring war on Austria-Hungary. The promises made in the secret Treaty of London in 1915 ran counter to the ideals of ethnic self-determination in Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, and broke American cartoonists of the habit of drawing Italy as the Little Guy.
"Tut, Tut!" by Edward W. Gale in Los Angeles Times, January, 1919
Upset at what it perceived as a betrayal of those promises, Italy walked out of the Paris peace negotiations, insisting that it would only negotiate with Serbia. Italy would gain territory in the eventual Treaty of Versailles, but not nearly as much as it felt it was due. (Cue ominous foreshadowing music here.)
"Ho paura che il mio progetto per la Società delle Nazione..." by Gabriele "Rata Langa" Galanta in L'Asino, Rome, January 19, 1919
Rata Langa's assessment of the League of Nations aside, his caricature of the U.S. President is a far cry from the cartoon of the beatific portrait of St. Woodrow from a couple month's earlier.

No comments:

Post a Comment