Sunday, August 7, 2011

the Aryan ape

An essay I'll probably never write: "the language of cartoons in propaganda". This, for example, has been called racist, but I think that's simplistic. If the artist had wanted to suggest that Germans were like Africans, he would've drawn an African in a German helmet. Or, as Freud didn't say, sometimes an ape is only an ape.

File:'Destroy this mad brute' WWI propaganda poster (US version).jpg


  1. How ironic that, in order to destroy a rapine kultur of militarism, one should enlist in the U.S. Army. :-)

  2. I don't get this propaganda poster at all.

    Germany is a gorilla in a "Pickelhaube" that carries off blonde women and is waiting to club America with culture?

    This doesn't make sense considering that Germans are usually portrayed as Nordic stereotypes (though there are and were black Germans and there also were black German soldiers from Namibia, Cameroon, Togo, Tansania, Burundi and Ruanda, which were German colonies at the time), yet the only Nordic stereotype in the poster is the woman being carried off. And why is the gorilla clubbing America with culture? What exactly did they think the Germans were going to do, force Americans to listen to Wagner and read Goethe and Schiller? Never mind that there was zero chance of Germany invading the US during WWI (going by the style, I'd say this one was from WWI).

    In fact, this poster would make much more sense as a Nazi propaganda poster from WWII. In fact, I have seen similar Nazi propaganda posters from WWII. Animal-like foreigners attempting to carry off Aryan maidens.

    Is this poster offensive? Speaking as a German, it sure is. Is it racist? Maybe, but most of all it is strange, considering how few Germans of African origin there were in WWI.

    And now excuse me while I go clubbing Americans with culture.

  3. It embarrasses me that I can translate this.

    "Kultur" is German culture. The idea is that the Hun will force the rest of the world to adopt the German language, German arts, etc. The woman is either Liberty or Columbia, the personification of the US, who is about to be raped.

    Apparently, the poster was originally done for Britain, so the woman then would've been Britania.

    And for your final point, yep. With most wartime propaganda, all you have to do is change the labels.