German Propaganda Archive Calvin College

Background: Frischer Wind was original name of Eulenspiegel, the GDR’s weekly humor magazine. These caricatures come from a 1953 book of cartoons from that magazine titled Gale Force: A Selection of Recent German Caricatures. The copy I am working from was given to those attending an SED meeting in Kreis Halle. Nearly all of the cartoons focused on the evils of the West.

The source: Windstärke 12. Eine Auswahl neuer deutscher Karikaturen (Dresden: VEB Verlag der Kunst, 1953).


Gale Force


The cover

Title: “American Imports and Exports”

Explanation: American soldiers are bringing in Coca Cola, Kodak film, and cigarettes, and removing Germany’s art treasures. This was part of the general claim that the U.S. was an uncivilized country.

Title: “The World’s Policeman”

Explanation: An American soldier gets a hot foot while trying to dominate the world.

Caption: “OK, the more grain our tanks ruin, the more they will have to import from us.”

Explanation: American military maneuvers were a frequent cause of friction in West Germany, a fact this cartoon attempts to play on.

Title: “American Propaganda”

Explanation: An American tank, supposedly the reality of American intentions, is covered by signs saying “Chew gum and stay healthy,” “Milk and honey flow here,” and “Self-service.” There is some Coca-Cola and tins of corned beef. Flowers are nicely placed to conceal the tanks’s guns. The sign says: “Closed to East-West commerce.” The claim is that the United States conceals its aggressive plans by propaganda bout consumer goods.

Title: “The Resurrection”

Explanation: Konrad Adenauer, the West German chancellor, is presented as standing in Adolf Hitler’s place, carrying an American flag and reading a fine speech.

Caption: A quotation from Stalin: “The fundamental principles of modern capitalism can be put this way: Guaranteeing maximum profits through the exploitation, ruination, and enslavement of the majority of the population of the given country, through the systematic plundering of the people in other countries, in particular the undeveloped nations, and finally through war and economic militarization. All these contribute to high profits.”

Caption: “Here is the key, Eisenhower! Watch her as well as I have!”

Explanation: Departing President Truman passes the keys to the Statue of Liberty’s jail cell to incoming President Eisenhower. Eisenhower is holding a billy club titled “Wall Street.”

Caption: “We need more human rights, Bill. Then at least I wouldn’t have cold feet any more”

Explanation: The paper covering most of the man’s body is titled “Human Rights.” With more of them, the sheet would be longer.... The GDR had a particular antipathy to Coco-Cola, which it made a symbol of the evils of the United States.

Title: “The Revolver Nose”

Explanation: RIAS, short for “Radio in the American Sector,” was an American radio station in West Berlin. It was popular in East Germany. In 1953, the GDR was doing all it could to discourage people from listening to it. The revolver is spouting lies and incitement into the microphone.

Caption: “You get the first glass, John Bull, since I’m a gentleman!”

Explanation: The claim is that England is playing second-fiddle to the United States. England gets a little oil, the U.S. hogs the rest.

Caption: “We are giving you your Bibles back. Please give us our land back.”

Explanation: The caricature is on the anti-colonial theme, suggesting that the British are using religion to exploit Kenya.

[Page copyright © 1998 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]


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