German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: This is an unusual book that could have been published only early in the Nazi period. It has a wide variety of unflattering cartoons about Adolf Hitler, with commentaries explaining how false they were in light of Hitler’s success. The Nazis were in high spirits, and took pleasure in looking back on the insults they had suffered (and triumphed over). Once Hitler was established as the all-powerful dictator, such a book would have been an encouragement to critical views. A later edition of the book, with fresh cartoons, appeared later in 1933. And a final edition, with no new cartoons, appeared in 1938. Interestingly, Ernst Hanfstaengl, the editor, had since fled the country, and his name was removed. He was an early, Harvard-educated supporter of Hitler.

Books of cartoons after 1933 made little mention of Hitler. For example, Ernst Herbert Lehmann’s Mit Stift und Gift. Zeitgeschehen in der Karikatur (Berlin: Carl Stephenson Verlag, 1939) contained many cartoons caricaturing foreign leaders, but had no pictures at all of Hitler. A pamphlet titled Unser aller Hitler, published by the Propaganda Ministry in 1940, did include several Hitler caricatures, though this was aimed at residents of parts of France incorporated into Germany.

The book was popular. The copy I am working from brought the total in print to 40,000. There are a total of about 75 cartoons in the book. I provide here the ones I find most interesting.

Immediately after the war, a pamphlet titled Hitler, wie ihn die Welt sah was published in the Soviet occupied zone. It printed about a dozen cartoons, some this book, but with a different purpose. It stated: “Germans! When you look at these cartoons, you will know why the Hitler state was destroyed!”

The images are thumbnails, rather too small as this is an early page that suffered while updating the html.

The source: Ernst Hanfstaengl, Hitler in der Karikatur der Welt. Tat gegen Tinte (Berlin: Verlag Braune Bücher Carl Rentsch, 1933).

Hitler in Caricature

Hitler Caricature

Title: April First

What they wrote: This cartoon was published on 1 April 1924 while Hitler was in the Landsberg Prison. It presents Hitler’s triumphant entry through the Brandenburg Gate as a silly April Fool’s idea. However, on 30 January 1933...

What happened: came true.

Hitler Caricature

Title: None

What they wrote: Simplicissimus(a satirical magazine) suggested in January 1928 that the NSDAP would split so often that in the end only Hitler would be left.

What happened: The NSDAP did not split, but Hitler was in fact left alone—but in an entirely different sense. Today in Germany there are no parties or party leaders other than Hitler.

Hitler Caricature

Title: Adolf

What they wrote: In testimony before the National Court on 25 September 1930, Hitler declared that after a seizure of power by National Socialism “heads would roll” in Germany. The magazine Ulkfound that the occasion for this truly revolting cartoon.

What happened: After taking power Hitler did let a large number of earlier “heads” roll into concentration camps. This was because he was determined to be a generous victor and because he wanted to spare the healthy and constructive population the horror of a violent reckoning with his opponents.

Hitler Caricature

Title: Hitler Advances

What they wrote: On 14 September 1930, the National Socialist Party increased its number of seats in the Reichstag from 12 to 107. New rules made its work almost impossible, so the National Socialist faction stayed away. The cartoonist used this situation to suggest that the party was going backwards like a lobster, and would never reach a dictatorship in such a manner.

What happened: Events turned out entirely differently. Hitler and his National Socialist lobster moved forward so quickly that the opponents not only had to retreat, but committed suicide.

Hitler Caricature

Title: How Hitler says “legal”

What they wrote: The cartoon suggests that Hitler will break his promise to follow a legal path and will misuse the S.A. to gain power.

What happened: On 25 September 1930 Hitler testified to the National Court in Leipzig:

The National Socialist movement will seek to reach its goals through legal means. The law provides the means, but not the goal. We will seek to gain a decisive majority in the lawmaking bodies, and at the moment in which we succeed we will give the state a form corresponding to our ideas.

Hitler kept his promise! With the “decisive majority” that the National Socialist German Workers’ Party won in the “lawmaking bodies” Hitler took power legally on 30 January 1933, and then “gave the state the form” that corresponded to the ideas of National Socialism.

Hitler Caricature

Title: Hitler’s Dream

What they wrote: The cartoonist in this March 1932 cartoon presents Hitler’s dream as laughable...

What happened: But on 21 March 1933 in Potsdam it became most dignified truth.

Hitler Caricature

Title: The Nightmare. “A frightening thought. Our voters are demanding that we fulfill our campaign promises...”

What they wrote: The wish is the father to the thought in this cartoon. To the annoyance of his opponents, Hitler consistently refused to make election promises.

What happened: But within a few months of his takeover of power, he fulfilled more of the hopes of his German comrades than his opponents found pleasant.

Hitler Caricature

Title: The Result of Voting for Hitler

What they wrote: The rule of the swastika would destroy Germany.

What happened: Since the establishment of the “rule of the swastika” in Germany, the German Reich is stronger than ever before, and Hitler has powers as chancellor that no German monarch or chancellor ever had before him.

Hitler Caricature

Title: None

What they wrote: The actions of the Social Democrats have pinched the Nazis (September 1932)

What happened: Before these laughable Socialist pliers could squeeze the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, Hitler’s hammer had destroyed the SPD.

Hitler Caricature

Title: The Führer’s Complaint: “How can I become a dictator if no one helps!”

What happened: Hitler’s successes since the takeover of power, which are recognized by the entire world, answer the cartoonist: Either Hitler’s successes are his alone, or he had help. If the first is true, he needs no help, and if the second is true, he had help.

Hitler Caricature

Title: A hot seat is sometimes uncomfortable...!

What they wrote: The cartoon suggests that the men who created the November Democracy will make it impossible for Hitler to stay in power.

What happened: Hitler’s power is firmer today than ever. He dealt with the problem by getting rid of these November Men. He is sitting much more comfortably than they are.

Hitler Caricature

Title: A cartoon from “The Nation” in New York (5 April 1933)

What they wrote: The cartoon suggests that Hitler wants war.

What happened: On 15 July 1933 Germany signed the “Four Power Pact” in Rome, which guarantees peace between England, France, Italy, and Germany for the next ten years.

[Page copyright © 2001 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]

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