German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: I came across this set of six posters produced by the NSDAP Gauleitung Steiermark, part of Austria then incorporated into Hitler’s Reich. The posters went out with a late 1941 issue of a newsletter for propagandists, giving them detailed guidance on how to prepare for the campaign, which was aimed at complainers and those who failed to realize the greatness of life in Nazi Germany. Each poster would hang for two weeks, so the whole campaign ran three months. Newspapers promoted it, and those attending movie theaters saw slides of the posters before the film began. The three area breweries even produced beer coasters with the caricatures on them. The goal was to make everyone aware of the two unpleasant central figures in the campaign, and encourage them to behave differently: “Wherever such a character surfaces, the goal is that party members or other citizens present will refer to Herr Semperer or Frau Keppelmeier and bring ridicule down on them.” There was another poster that ran at the very end of the campaign, but I have not found that one.

The campaign mirrored what Goebbels was doing in Berlin, where the characters were Herr Bramsig and Frau Knöterich. For an example, see Goebbels’s essay “The Matter of the Plague” from October 1941. There were posters for that campaign as well, but I have not found them.

The source: “Herr Semperer und Frau Keppelmeier! Propagandaaktion gegen Gerüchtemacher und Meckerer im Gau Steiermark,” Der Propagandist. Mitteilungen des Gaupropagandaamtes Steiermark, November-December 1941, pp. 6-8.

A Nazi Poster Campaign in Austria: Winter 1941-1942

Nazi poster

This poster introduced the two characters: Frau Keppelmeier and Herr Semperer. “Sempern” is slang for ‘complain.” The poem runs:

Frau Keppelmeier, as one can see,
Is deeply troubled as can be.
Herr Semperer, on the other hand,
Eagerly hears the rumor she tells.
Nazi poster

Herr Semperer is not eager to donate to the Nazi Party’s charity, the Winterhilfswerk, or WHW:

Herr Semperer, it’s very clear,
Makes his “sacrifice” so dear.
“Hey,” he mutters, “I gives ma share!”
Two cents is all that he can spare.
Nazi poster Frau Keppelmeier commits the crime (and it was a crime) of listening to British radio:
At night Frau Keppelmeier turns her dial,
And listens in on London.
She sits there listening to lies,
Happily being led astray.
Nazi poster Herr Semperer, meanwhile, has advice for Hitler’s generals:

Herr Semperer is a strategist.
The most important thing in any battle
Is to make the right attack, he says.
Any general could learn from him.
One need only listen to him at the pub.

Nazi poster Frau Keppelmeier, meanwhile, is having trouble finding the things she needs:
Frau Keppelmeier is most distressed.
She can’t get the right perfume these days.
And our youth, why they’re so immature,
They’ve never heard of perfumed soap!
Nazi poster Herr Semperer is off in the countryside looking for black market foodstuffs:
Herr Semperer, meanwhile, complains so loudly.
The trains, you see, are sometimes late.
In such hard times how can he then,
Himself punctually fill his sack?

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