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Kladderadatsch was founded in Berlin by Albert Hofmann and David Kalisch. The first issue was virtually written by one man, Kalisch, the son of a Jewish merchant and a popular author of light comedies. The format of the magazine remained essentially the same throughout the magazine's history. The front-cover included a grinning boy's head that was eventually to become the magazine's trademark. Under the title, roughly translated as Crash, was the words "The time's turned upside down!" The magazine's humour was reflected in the statement until the title, "appears daily except weekdays".

Kladderadatsch was published for the first time on 7th May, 1848. Hofmann and Kalisch printed 4,000 and they sold all of them in twenty-four hours. The success of the venture enabled them to employ two other writers, Ernst Dohm and Rudolf Löwenstein. In the second issue Kladderadatsch also began to publish the drawings of Wilhelm Scholz. He was to remain the main contributor for over forty years.

The journal was critical of the German government and favoured moderate reform. Although in favour of free speech, Kladderadatsch was very hostile to socialism and warned that if the movement gained power in Germany it would be "followed immediately by the confiscation of all private property, the abolition of money, and the dissolution of the army". However, the journal was concerned that legislation to control socialists would also hurt more moderate reformers.

Kladderadatsch was extremely popular with the growing middle-class in Germany and circulation grew from 22,000 in 1858 to 50,000 in 1872. The journal gradually lost it early rebelliousness and began to reflect the conservative views of its prosperous readers. The it supported government legislation to prevent the spread of socialism and gave its backing in 1897 to a law that penalized striking workers.

By the beginning of the 20th century Kladderadatsch began to look old-fashioned and was outsold by the socialist Der Wahre Jakob and the liberal Simplicissimus. In 1900 its editor-in-chief was sixty-three years of age and the average age of its five most important staff members was forty-eight. At the same time the average age of the staff of Simplicissimus was twenty-eight.

Paul Warncke succeeded Johannes Trojan as editor-in-chief in 1909. Warncke was strongly nationalistic and first achieved notice for a poem honouring Otto von Bismarck. During this period, Gustav Brandt and the German-American artist, Arthur Johnson, became the journals leading cartoonists. On the outbreak of the First World War Kladderadatsch gave its full support to the war effort.

Wilhelm Scholz, Kladderadatsch (1848)

After the war Kladderadatsch had a circulation of 40,000 but even though attempts were made to modernize its format, sales continued to fall. In 1923 Hofmann Verlag, the publishers of Kladderadatsch since it was founded in 1848, sold it to the Stinnes Company. The journal became increasingly right-wing and denounced the moderate leaders of the Weimar Republic. When Walther Rathenau was assassinated in 1922, Kladderadatsch published a poem that provided little sympathy to the former German foreign minister.

The journal also praised Adolf Hitler for his patriotic spirit after the failure of the 1923 Munich Putsch. In the early 1930s Kladderadatsch fully supported Hitler's policies and denounced the Social Democrats of trying to destroy Germany. Cartoons in the journal became increasingly anti-Jewish. After the death of Paul Warncke in 1933, Kladderadatsch continued to express extreme right-wing views.

We will forget his oft-misguided life

His errors and his sins we'll not remember

Instead we mourn the fratricidal strife

Which threatens our dear country to dismember.

Kladderadatsch - History

Project hosted by the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität of Heidelberg:

"The satirical journal Kladderadatsch was founded in Berlin by Albert Hofmann (1818-1880) and David Kalisch (1820-1872). The first issue was published on May, 7th, 1848 in an edition of 4.000 copies.

The first two volumes appeared with the subtitle "Organ für und von Bummler". In 1849 (issue 32) the subtitle was changed to "Humoristisch-satyrisches (later "satirisches Wochenblatt"). From 1908 onwards the title simply was Kladderadatsch. Publication ceased in 1944 .

Kladderadatsch was the only satirical magazine of Berlin that survived the 1848 revolution in Germany and that existed - after having converted to the liberal-conservative side - for more than 90 years. The magazine's humorous and critical articles were full of local colour and Kladderadatsch soon became Berlin's favourite."

The journal can be browsed by year and viewed as high-resolution images. Pages can also be downloaded in PDF format.

Cartoons and the historian

Many historical books contain cartoons, but in most cases these are little more than a relief from the text, and do not make any point of substance which is not made elsewhere. Political cartoons should be regarded as much more than that. They are an important historical source which often casts vivid light on events, and which is useful both to the teacher and to the researcher. The essential of a political cartoon is that it is not meant to portray an actual event, but is designed to bring out points which are not adequately made by textual descriptions - or which can be understood by illiterate people, or by people in a hurry.

The medium of cartoons is a very old one. A famous palette from the dawn of pharaonic Egypt shows King Narmer (Menes) striking what appears to be a defeated enemy in front of a falcon, symbol of the god Horus.(1 ) It is unlikely that Narmer personally dispatched all his enemies, and even more unlikely that he contrived to have a falcon present to watch events. It is much more likely that this was a true cartoon, making an important point of propaganda. Pharaoh has divine backing. For that reason, he has been, and will continue to be, successful against his enemies at home or abroad. It is therefore advisable to support him in all his doings.

Four thousand years later, similar ideas were repeatedly put forward in the Byzantine empire. To give one of many examples, a tenth-century ivory relief shows the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus crowned by Christ(2 ). As with the palette of Narmer, the artist did not suggest that the incident depicted actually occurred, and yet there are clear political implications. Constantine VII, like Narmer, has divine support and is therefore invincible. So the mosaic also qualifies as a true cartoon.

A sixteenth-century English woodcut(3 ) shows Henry VIII receiving the Bible from Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell, while simultaneously trampling Pope Clement VII, who is being consoled by John Fisher. No such scene could possibly have occurred, and the woodcut seems to have appeared first in the reign of Henry’s younger daughter but the message to the devout is obvious. Henry was very powerful and very pious and his enemies were neither. No doubt his merits have rubbed off onto Elizabeth. These various points could all have been made in text, but a cartoon is far more vivid and is much more likely to stick in the viewer’s mind, particularly if he happens to be more or less illiterate.

By taking cartoons from different sources, it is often possible to see how events looked to people with opposing ideas. In Britain, political cartoons of a more or less modern kind received a great impetus during the long premiership of Sir Robert Walpole. There were ways in which criticisms of the government - on the stage, for example - could be at least partly controlled. But cartoons of Walpole - some quite vulgar - could not be controlled.( 4 ) To do so would have required a prosecution in front of a London jury and there zwas no way in which a London jury (whose members probably detested Walpole) would have convicted, whatever the evidence. The best that Walpole could do was to hire other cartoonists to glorify himself. The results looked pompous rather than persuasive.(5 ) The floodgates were open, and nobody, not even royalty, was immune. Early in the reign of George III the King’s mother and the Prime Minister, the Earl of Bute, were alleged (probably wrongly) to be lovers. and the cartoons which followed were sometimes crudely obscene.( 6 ) Other scurrilous cartoons about royalty and their sex lives followed later in the reign. What eventually put a stop to that sort of thing was not the law, but changing public tastes.

Until about 1830, British political cartoons were usually one-off efforts, much too expensive for most people’s pockets. They would have been bought either by comparatively wealthy people, or for display in shops, pubs and similar places. Then, quite suddenly, a number of satirical publications, usually with radical opinions, begin to appear, at prices within the range of the skilled artisan. These sometimes contain cartoons.Figaro in London was one such periodical, and occasionally casts useful light on developing political ideas. A cartoon of March 1833 shows William IV as a puppet controlled by Prime Minister Grey and Lord Chancellor Brougham ( 7 ) - an early recognition of one effect of the Reform Act of the previous year. A Figaro cartoon of April 1837 shows an angry crowd demonstrating for repeal of the Corn Laws, to the high embarrassment of two bakers, Whig Prime Minister Melbourne and his Tory rival Wellington. An anti-corn law association had already been formed in London but this was a year before the principal Anti-Corn Law League was established in Manchester. It shows that radical London working people were very interested in moves towards Free Trade before the idea had fully caught on with north country employers.

Punch appeared early in the 1840s, and at first was very radical in outlook. “The home of the rick-burner” in 1844 shows an agricultural labourer, his wife dead in bed, with an empty cupboard and hungry children clustered around him. The Devil, brandishing a burning torch, incites him to incendiarism.( 8 ) The sympathies of the artist are evident. Punch soon became less radical in tone, though it tended to look at events from a more or less Liberal standpoint for a long time to come. Various competitors appeared. Most of these died quickly, but the Conservative Judy, and Fun, whose politics varied from time to time, both lasted from the 1860s into the early twentieth century, with many well-drawn cartoons. By comparing them withPunch, it is often possible to get different angles on controversies.

During the debate on the Irish Land Bill of 1881, Punch showed Gladstone tendering a bouquet to Hibernia, and thus drawing her attention and sympathies away from the villainous-looking representative of the Land League (complete with dynamite)( 9 ). Judy, by contrast, showed Gladstone and W. E. Forster as “the most liberal of Liberals with other people’s property”, handing title deeds to an Irish peasant, while a wounded landlord looks on.( 10 ) The Dublin Weekly Freeman takes another view of the matter. “The genius of the Bill” is the Irishman “Pat”, who wields a shillelagh marked “Land League” over Gladstone, compelling him to write the Irish Land Bill.( 11 )

In other countries and at other times, similar comparisons may be made. In the early part of 1941, there was a furious controversy in the United States as to whether or not America should follow the recommendation of President Roosevelt, and render great material assistance to Britain and other Allies through the vehicle of Lease-Lend. The pro-Roosevelt Washington Post featured a cartoon suggesting that the alternative was a globe dominated by Hitler( 12 ), with Uncle Sam sitting miserably on a branch outside. The isolationist and anti-Roosevelt Chicago Tribune ( 13 ) showed an aeroplane labelled “War Bloc”, (meaning those Americans - Democrats or Republicans - who were backing Roosevelt’s policy). It has just bombed the promises of both Roosevelt and his Republican opponent at the recent Presidential elections, leaving 50 million voters in the wreckage. Each cartoon is seeking to point out to Americans the appalling consequences which are likely to follow if its own views are not followed.

How did the beginning of the 1914 war look to various belligerents? Many British people are familiar with the F. H. Townsend cartoon in Punch ( 14 ), showing a type-cast German, complete with sausages, threatening a boy who defends a gate marked “No Thoroughfare”. The cartoon carries the caption “Bravo, Belgium!” The German attack on Belgium was the nominal cause of British intervention, and it certainly had a big effect on British public opinion but it would be difficult to find corresponding cartoons in other major countries, Allied or enemy, giving that incident similar importance.

F. H. Townsend's famous cartoon for Punch 14 August 1914

The Germans, by contrast, appear to have entered the war mainly for fear of Russia. A cartoon in the satirical Kladderadatsch shows a young boy brandishing a sword, crying “Up, German brothers, the Huns are coming!”( 15 ) This is probably an allusion to the great battle of 451 - which has been given various names - when Romans and several Germanic tribes joined forces to defeat Attila. (The British called Germans, Huns the Germans called Russians, Huns. Both were wrong.)

A Russian cartoon of about the same period in Novoe Vremya takes a very different view of the beginning of the war( 16 ). Here, the other side are the aggressors. A German and an Austrian are on a hunting expedition when suddenly their intended quarry, a gigantic Russian bear, appears in front of them. The Austrian recoils in terror into the arms of the appalled German.

To the United States, still neutral at that date, the beginning of the war takes on the character of an accident. In a New York Tribune cartoon ( 17 ), Franz Josef of Austria has just pulled out a little rock, Serbia and released an avalanche. Such cartoons illustrate how the same chain of events could look very different from different national standpoints.

Domestic events are similarly illustrated by cartoons. The long struggle over Irish Home Rule generated many cartoons on both sides of the Irish Sea. To take just one example, shortly before the 1914 war the crucial question was what was to happen to Ulster, or at least the Protestant parts of Ulster, if Home Rule took effect. A cartoon in the Dublin Leprecaun ( 18 ), shows Ireland as a kindly mother with children from the three southern Provinces and also southern Ulster, seeking to encourage “the irreconcilable” north-east Ulster - a sulky little boy - into the family cottage “Home, sweet Home, Rule”. The Belfast Weekly News ( 19 ) shows Prime Minister Asquith and Nationalist leader Redmond with great knives labelled “Home Rule”, and “Rome Rule”, chasing the chicken Ulster. Asquith remarks to Redmond with astonishment, “He doesn’t seem to want to be killed”. The remarkably impartial Belfast Nomad’s Weekly sees matters differently again.( 20 ) Asquith and Conservative leader Bonar Law are in the “Conversation Room”, but their mouths are padlocked, and each is chained in place - Asquith by Redmond, Bonar Law by Carson.

Sometimes contemporary cartoons give an answer to modern puzzles. Many people today wonder why Hitler was able to secure control of Germany so easily. A cartoon in the Munich periodical Simplicissimus of October 1932 gives an idea.( 21 ) This was at the depth of the depression, and Germany was faring worse than most countries. “Mother Germany” is in the water, drowning and crying for help. Five men struggle furiously for a lifebelt to throw to her: a Communist, a Nazi, a Social Democrat, an old-fashioned Conservative and a representative of the Catholic Zentrum. The message seems clear. The artist, and very likely his reader, does not care much who gets control of the lifebelt, provided that somebody does, and uses it quickly. Three and a half months later, Hitler became Chancellor, and in that sense it was the Nazi who got the lifebelt. No doubt many people who would have preferred somebody else to do so were willing to acquiesce.

Just when did the erstwhile wartime allies become involved in a “Cold War”? >From 1941 until the end of the war, cartoons in Allied countries were more or less unanimous in emphasising the unity of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union, and the righteousness of their cause. To see what happened thereafter, we have to be cautious in our use of cartoons. British and American cartoons were drawn by artists who sought to express their own opinions, or the opinions of their employers, which were not necessarily the opinions of their governments. Soviet cartoons, by contrast, would never have appeared without official backing. Some British and American cartoons were expressing big doubts about the Soviet Union at an early date, but they were not presenting an “official” view of the matter.

The first Soviet hint that anything was amiss appears to have been a drawing in the satirical Krokodil of November 1945, which criticises, rather gently, the American refusal to share atomic secrets. Uncle Sam and a female character representing Britain are sitting in a park with a baby, “Atomic Energy”, in a perambulator( 22 ). Bystanders wonder how the child will be educated the answer is “Privately!” There is a certain disapproval but cartoons from British and American periodicals which were by no means Communist express similar views. In August 1946, Krokodil featured a cartoon highly critical of anti-Soviet elements in the American press,( 23 ) though not the American government. It was not until the following year that a serious assault was made on official American policies, and when the attack did come it was furious..

Occasionally cartoons are extraordinarily prophetic. A Will Dyson cartoon in the Daily Herald of 17 May 1919 ( 24 ) shows the “Big Four” Allied leaders leaving the Palace of Versailles. Clemenceau of France remarks to the others, “Curious! I seem to hear a child weeping!” Behind a pillar is a little boy, and over his head are the words “1940 Class” - that is, the class who would be of military age in 1940.

In 1923, the French occupied the Ruhr in order to compel the Germans to pay reparations. A large section of British opinion deplored this high-handed and unilateral action. A drawing by the great British cartoonist David Low shows Premier Poincaré of France, who has just despatched a vulture labelled “Revanche” to Berlin. The bird turns and says “Righto, Poinc., I’ll take your message, but I’ll come home to roost.”( 25 ) It did.

Cartoons sometimes say to the modern reader rather more than the cartoonist intended. A German cartoon in Das Reich of mid-1941 shows Hitler and Stalin in the water, clutching each other and each crying “Help!”( 26 ) Another cartoon in the same periodical and probably by the same artist, drawn shortly after the crucial battle of Stalingrad, shows men, presumably meant to be Russians, with knives between their teeth, crouching for the attack.( 27 ) The first cartoon shows the huge confidence Germans were expected to feel at the onset of the assault on the Soviet Union the second already hints that the war has been lost and that Germans must expect something very unpleasant to happen soon.

Sometimes the cartoonist makes a point which seemed straightforward enough when the drawing was made, but conveys subtleties to the modern reader. How similar was Italian Fascism to German Nazism? At the beginning of the Italian attack on Abyssinia in 1935, a cartoon in Mussolini’s Il popolo d’Italia , entitled “The aggressor and the victim of aggression” shows an Italian soldier striking off the chains of an Abyssinian.( 28 ) Of course this was propaganda for domestic consumption, and of course the attack was not really designed to benefit the Abyssinian yet the thinking behind the cartoon was clearly not racist. It is difficult to conceive of a cartoon in Nazi Germany pretending that the 1939 attack on Poland, or the 1941 attack on Russia, was designed to help the people of those countries. Nazism certainly was racist right from the start. Italian Fascist cartoons eventually went the same way, and in 1938 a periodical La difensa della Razza appeared, whose first issue shows a sword between an “Aryan” on one side and a typecast Jew and a black man on the other.( 29 ) Hitler has converted Mussolini.

Even the absence of cartoons may tell us quite a lot. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, several satellite countries sent troops in support of the attackers. The French “collaborationist” La Gerbe featured a cartoon, “The last Crusade”. Stalin and Litvinov are in Moscow, and see troops advancing towards them. Stalin asks whether the Americans are coming to his assistance. Litvinov replies that he can only see Europe coming.( 30 ) The implication is that many European countries are helping actively in the assault. Yet there is little indication in German cartoons of the period that their European confederates were playing an important part in the operation. A Russian cartoon, “Fascist Kennel”, got it right. Hitler gnaws at a bone, while his tame dogs from the satellites slaver hungrily.( 31 )

Another significant example of the importance of omissions is the way in which heads of government are portrayed - or not portrayed - in cartoons. German cartoons during the Nazi period did not portray Hitler, Russian cartoons during the Stalin period and for long afterwards did not portray Stalin, even in the most laudatory way. Yet British wartime cartoons repeatedly portrayed Churchill, and American cartoons portrayed Roosevelt, often in a highly unflattering way. When a government forbids cartoons about its political leaders, it is usually a sign that liberty is being eroded in other ways as well.

Examples of all such uses of cartoons - or the absence of cartoons - may be multiplied almost indefinitely, and applied to a vast range of historical contexts. Whatever else they do, they make us hear people of the past speaking. That is what history is supposed to do. Unlike political speeches, they are difficult to “edit” in order to make the point which the present-day historian considers important.

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The Great Kladderadatsch

"Economic history is the queen of the social sciences" is how Robert C. Allen opens his contribution to Oxford's pithy Very Short Introduction line of pamphlets. His Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction provides an informative bird's-eye view of economic development over the past five hundred years.

Allen divides modern economic history into three periods: a mercantilist period from 1500 to the Industrial Revolution in the start of the 19th century a catch-up period in which "Western Europe and the USA made economic development a priority and tried to achieve it with a standard set of four policies: creation of a unified national market by eliminating internal tariffs and building transportation infrastructure the erection of an external tariff to protect their industries from British competition the chartering of banks to stabilize the currency and finance industrial investment and the establishment of mass education to upgrade the labor force" (2) and finally a period of Big Push investment.

Allen notes that "Between 1820 and the present, the income gaps have expanded with only a few exceptions." (3) The exceptions are Japan and the East Asian Tigers, with the Soviet Union as a less complete success and China still in the process today. (6)

"Why has the world become increasingly unequal?" (14) Allen asks. He contends geography (location of natural resources, lack of tropical disease, ease of transportation) matters, but is rarely the whole story. Cultural explanations that evoke work ethic such as Weber's are "no longer tenable." (14) Literacy and numeracy are certainly important, but it is controversial whether and how political and legal institutions are as well. He concludes that "technological change, globalization and economic policy turn out to have been the immediate causes of unequal development." (16) The great divergence began with the "first phase of globalization," beginning with the voyages of Columbus, Magellan et al. Literacy developed in this period as a result of the commercial economy, not as a result of the Reformation. (26)

The next question Allen tackles is why the Industrial Revolution happened in England.
While noting England had a "favorable political system" and an "emerging scientific culture," (29) ultimately the fact that Britain had a unique situation where "labor was expensive and capital was cheap" ensured the Industrial Revolution was British. (33) Incremental developments in textile production (which Allen points out "owed nothing to scientific discoveries" (33)) and the invention and subsequent refining of the steam engine were important innovations.

Following the emergence of the Industrial Revolution in England, rapid economic development spread to Continental Europe. Mainland Europe may have lagged behind Britain because of archaic institutions (swept away by the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, but only after Waterloo could Europe take advantage of this) or the disadvantages of playing catch-up or a labor/capital price structure unlike that of England. (40-41) Allen notes the striking contrast in this period between "the rich countries, who, as a group, pushed technology forward, and the rest of the world, which seemingly made no innovations at all." (46) He continues: "The obvious question is why [low income countries] do not adopt the technology of the Western countries and become rich themselves. The answer is that it would not pay. The Western countries have experienced a development trajectory in which higher wages led to the invention of labor-saving technology, whose use drove up the labor productivity and wages with it. The cycle repeats. Today's poor countries missed the elevator." (51) And later, in the context of textiles: "Comparative advantage implies that the unbalanced productivity growth of the Industrial Revolution should have furthered industrial development in England, while de-industrializing India. And that is what happened." (57) "The story of Indian textiles was the story of much of the Third World in the 19th century." (61)

Allen then devotes two chapters to the Americas and Africa, respectively. After a discussion of the Staples thesis, Allen states that, in terms of economic development, "The major difference between the USA and Latin America was the share of the population that was socially excluded," with Latin America excluding a much larger share of its population (natives and blacks were around two thirds of total population in Latin America, in contrast to one seventh in the US). (89) In the case of Africa, it lacked advanced agrarian civilization in 1500, so it was in no position to have an industrial revolution. (92) Today, "The reason that Africans are poor is because the continent's agriculture generates a First World War standard of living." (109) The next chapter examines the failure of the standard model of economic development in Russia, Japan and Latin America.

Regarding Big Push development, Allen remarks, "The only way large countries have been able to grow so fast is by constructing all of the elements of an advanced economy -- steel mills, power plants, vehicle factories, cities, and so on -- simultaneously. This is Big Push industrialization." (131) The USSR provided what looked like a model for a poor country to develop before the growth rate started declining in the 1970s. Japan "grew rapidly by closing three gaps with the West -- in capital per worker, education per worker, and productivity." (139) Mass schooling closed the education gap, and state-led industrialization closed the other two. The chapter ends with a discussion of China.

In the Epilogue, Allen contrasts the success of East Asian development with the failures of Latin American development: "These countries have avoided the inefficiencies that Latin America has endured in trying to shoe-horn modern technology into small economies either because they were so large that they could absorb the output of efficient facilities or because the were given access to the American market at the expense of American production." (147) Allen ends on an ambivalent note: "Which of the many initiatives followed by these countries was the most effective, however, remains the subject of a great deal of debate. Also, it is not so clear whether the successful policies can be transplanted to other countries. The best policy to effect economic development, therefore, remains very much in dispute." (147)

Satire and Society in Wilhelmine Germany: Kladderadatsch and Simplicissimus, 1890--1914

The reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II was a transitional period in German history when the traditions of the nineteenth century were coming into conflict with the emerging cultural, social, and political patterns of the twentieth century. The resulting tensions were clearly reflected in the period's leading satirical journals, Kladderadatsch and Simplicissimus .

Both journals appealed to a diverse middle-class readership and attracted widespread attention through their flamboyant and sometimes scurrilous attacks on authority. Their satire, expressed through cartoons, anecdotes, verse, and fiction, ranged across nearly every aspect of German life and employed the talents of some of the period's most important writers and artists. That their purpose was essentially serious was shown by the frequent seizures of offending issues and the jail sentences meted out to satirists whose jabs struck too near home.

Kladderadatsch , founded in Berlin in 1848, was liberal politically but generally mild in its social satire. It remained for Simplicissimus , founded in Munich in 1896, to launch a more radical critique of bourgeois culture. The primary target of both journals was the absurdities of an essentially weak monarchy personified in a Kaiser who seemed always to be "on stage." Simplicissimus , in addition, delighted in ridiculing a military establishment dominated by class, a repressive educational system, and a hypocritical religious hierarchy. Even the family came in for satirical treatment.

Through the history of these two periodicals, Ann Taylor Allen demonstrates the uses of humor in a society that offered few effective outlets for dissent. She also provides important new insights into the role of popular journalism in this critical period.


The reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II was a transitional period in German history when the traditions of the nineteenth century were coming into conflict with the emerging cultural, social, and political patterns of the twentieth century. The resulting tensions were clearly reflected in the period's leading satirical journals, Kladderadatsch and Simplicissimus.

Both journals appealed to a diverse middle-class readership and attracted widespread attention through their flamboyant and sometimes scurrilous attacks on authority. Their satire, expressed through cartoons, anecdotes, verse, and fiction, ranged across nearly every aspect of German life and employed the talents of some of the period's most important writers and artists. That their purpose was essentially serious was shown by the frequent seizures of offending issues and the jail sentences meted out to satirists whose jabs struck too near home.

Kladderadatsch, founded in Berlin in 1848, was liberal politically but generally mild in its social satire. It remained for Simplicissimus, founded in Munich in 1896, to launch a more radical critique of bourgeois culture. The primary target of both journals was the absurdities of an essentially weak monarchy personified in a Kaiser who seemed always to be "on stage." Simplicissimus, in addition, delighted in ridiculing a military establishment dominated by class, a repressive educational system, and a hypocritical religious hierarchy. Even the family came in for satirical treatment.

Through the history of these two periodicals, Ann Taylor Allen demonstrates the uses of humor in a society that offered few effective outlets for dissent. She also provides important new insights into the role of popular journalism in this critical period.

Ann Taylor Allen is associate professor of history at the University of Louisville.

The progress of civilization in the Congo (1884)

The Berlin Congo Conference (1884-1885) and the rhetoric of the “civilising mission” that representatives used to legitimate their African claims inspired a range of media responses. In this cartoon, the satirical journal Kladderadatsch mocks the justification by suggesting that colonial subjects were not capable of being civilised. To do so it draws on the trope of the Hosenneger (the “pants-wearing Negro”). This figure is a colonial subject who aspires to be civilised but, because of fundamental inferiority, can only fall short, as best illustrated in inability to understand European fashions.

In the cartoon we see a representative survey of everyday German habits transplanted into the Congo, and hilarity ensues as the locals try to imitate the Europeans. A gentleman, wearing top hat and ridiculous striped trousers, presents a cactus to the object of his affection, who wears women’s undergarments and walks her crocodile. Rather than playing European orchestral pieces or singing in harmony, three half-naked men clash cymbals and bang on drums in what appears to be a riotous performance.

There is a hint of colonial critique in the cigars and alcohol being exported to the Africans in the top-left, as well as a hint of colonial anxiety in the advertising column on the bottom right. As well as announcing an election (“don’t vote for carnivores”) it presents the possibility of overturned hierarchies: a “people show” brings twenty-five Berlin workers (Rixdorfers) for locals to ogle, and a local salon advertises that it employs white waiters.

The figures are caricatured in ways that emphasise racially specific features associated with presumptions of inferiority, in a sense using race to highlight incongruity and reinforce developing notions of absolute difference between colonizer and colonized. This is perhaps best illustrated in the group reading Kladderadatsch, where the grotesque features and lack of clothing comically highlight how far removed they are from Germans reading the same publication.


Source: “Culturfortschritte am Congo,” Kladderadatsch 37:52 (16 November 1884): erstes Beiblatt.

Kladderadatsch - History

Background: These cartoons come from a book published at the end of 1939. The cartoons selected all make the claim that Germany was an innocent nation on which war had been forced. Unlike a 1934 book of cartoons, not a single one of the cartoons in this book portrays Hitler. He had become the all-powerful Führer.

The source: Ernst Herbert Lehmann, Mit Stift und Gift. Zeitgeschichte in der Karikatur (Berlin: Carl Stephenson Verlag, 1939).

With Poison Pen: Current History in Caricature

&ldquoKeep it up, Mr. Churchill, and we&rsquoll soon be doing business together.&rdquo

Source: Simplicissimus, 6 August 1939

&ldquoBusiness is business! It makes no difference whether it has to do with the crowning of a king or incitement to war.&rdquo

Source: Der Stürmer, November 1939

The world battle against the Jews. In a prophetic drawing, an English newspaper shows who will lose this struggle.

Source: Daily Express (London), 14 November 1938

A terrible nightmare of a French armaments maker: &ldquoGermany and France have come to an agreement!&rdquo

Source: Brennessel, 21 August 1934

Europe can have peace if Germany and France can agree.

Source: Washington Post , 7 December 1938

The campaign of lies. The democracies have called on their most loyal troops to encircle Germany.

Source: Simplicissimus, 9 April 1939

Source: Kladderadatsch, 10 September 1939

Chamberlain in the House of Commons. In the top frame, Polish police are attacking a German school in Poland. At the bottom, Chamberlain is saying: &ldquoI can only admire the remarkable calm and intelligent restraint of the Polish government.&rdquo

His infancy and early childhood were spent in a home of comfort and culture but when he was only seven years old his father died, leaving the family without any means of support, and Kalisch was compelled to add to the family resources by entering the employment of a dealer in small wares, who later on entrusted him with the management of a branch establishment in Ratibor. In 1843 he returned to Breslau, and in October 1844 went to Paris, where he gradually became on terms of intimacy with a group of poets and socialists that included Heinrich Heine, Georg Herwegh, Karl Grün, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Karl Marx, and Albert Wolff. He made at Leipzig his first attempts as a farce writer with his Die Proletarier and Auf der Eisenbahn.

Kalisch was still bound to a mercantile career, however, as neither literature nor the stage had yet made a place for him and so in 1846 he found his way to Berlin and took another position as salesman. He found time to continue his literary efforts by writing a number of the peculiar verses which, under the name of Couplets, were first employed by him, and which he afterward utilized with great success in his stage pieces. He also tried his hand at adaptation from the French, the little farce Ein Billet von Jenny Lind being produced at the summer theater at Schöneberg, near Berlin the principal result of this was that it secured for him an invitation to write for the Königsstädter Theater, where his Herr Karoline was produced, and later (23 December 1847) his Einmal Hunderttausend Thaler, which at once achieved a veritable triumph. There followed in quick succession. Berlin bei Nacht, Junger Zunder, Alter Plunder, Aurora im Oel, Münchhausen, Peschke, Ein Gebildeter Hausknecht, Der Aktienbudiker, Berlin, Wie es Weint und Lacht, Einer von Unsere Leut, Berlin Wird Weltstadt, Die Berliner in Wien, Der Goldonkel, and Musikalische Unterhaltung.

Very soon he practically dominated the German farce stage of his time. At the old Wallner Theater in Berlin and in the great comedy houses throughout Germany there were years when none but his pieces were produced, some of them having runs of hundreds of performances. Nor was it in Germany alone that his plays became famous, for by adaptation and translation they were produced throughout the world. A collection of his celebrated Couplets was produced under the title Berliner Leierkasten (3 vols., Berlin, 1857 5th ed., 1862 new series, 1863 and 1866), while a number of his farces were issued as Berliner Volksbühne (4 vols., ib. 1864) and Lustige Werke (3 parts, ib. 1870).

Just as Kalisch was entering upon the successful phase of his dramatic career he made another fortunate bid for fame by establishing (1848) the celebrated humorous sheet, Kladderadatsch, the publication of which was suggested during his work on the little paper issued by and for the members of the "Rütli," a club composed of humorists. The well known Müller und Schulze couple, which have become proverbial among Germans throughout the world, and Karlchen Miessnick are among the best of his contributions to the Kladderadatsch. In its early history he had many strange experiences, as its editor. He was prosecuted the paper was prohibited several times he had to fly to Leipzig, Dessau, or Neustadt-Eberswalde, and yet it survived. Later he shared the editorial work with Ernest Dohm. In 1852 he embraced Christianity in order that he might marry a woman of that faith.

The great Kladderadatsch expressed in its initial use above all a deterministic view of history. It envisaged a doomed scenario that was to come about at a predetermined point in time due to the development of capitalism . The SPD chairman August Bebel in particular used this catchphrase again and again. The party's job should be to prepare workers for this moment. For a long time the majority of the SPD did not see a need to actively combat the negative sides of capitalism such as poverty and exploitation , as this would stop this collapse. For Bebel, the war played a prominent role in predicting this collapse: the war would result in a revolution . Since the governments were aware of this, they would try to prevent a war. Here Bebel was in contradiction to Friedrich Engels , who predicted regressive developments as a result of war that would postpone the revolution.

As early as 1891, Eugen Richter mocked the belief in the “great Kladderadatsch” in his social democratic images of the future . Right at the beginning of the dystopian diary novel from the point of view of a staunch Social Democrat who is recording his experiences after the socialist revolution, it says:

“The red flag of international social democracy is waving from the royal palace and all public buildings in Berlin. If our eternal Bebel had experienced such a thing! He always predicted that the 'catastrophe was just around the corner.' I still remember, as if it had been yesterday, when Bebel proclaimed in a prophetic tone in a meeting in Rixdorf on September 13, 1891, that 'one day the great Kladderadatsch will come faster than one can imagine.' Shortly before that, Friedrich Engels had described 1898 as the year of the triumph of social democracy. Well, it still took a little longer. "

Since the book achieved a high circulation and even leading social democrats like August Bebel and Franz Mehring provoked counter-writings, it threw the spotlight on parts of the social democratic worldview that might need revision for the supporters of the SPD and its representatives.

A prominent opposition to the wait-and-see understanding of politics later came from Eduard Bernstein . Bernstein was strongly influenced by the political conditions there through his long exile in the United Kingdom and had also recognized that the labor movement can be able to achieve improvements for the workers through active politics. Bernstein questioned the principle of collapse, believed he recognized progressive tendencies in the development of civil society and wanted to urge the SPD to pursue an active policy of reform. These theories included a rejection of the necessity of a certain historical development and thus a rejection of the "great Kladderadatsch". In Bernstein's most controversial work, The Prerequisites for Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy , he emphasized that although he assumed a certain predetermination of the course of history, i.e. the overcoming of capitalism, it was uncertain and unpredictable when certain events would occur. With Karl Marx , Bernstein argues that the materialistic conception of history depends primarily on the balance of forces that would bring about changes. In addition to the development of the productive forces, Bernstein also emphasized non-economic factors and referred to Engels' late writings.

Bebel's catchphrase was criticized and sometimes ridiculed by other revisionists . In 1899 the revisionist Socialist Monthly Bulletins published a survey among the comrades at the party congress in Hanover. Heinrich Pëus replied as follows:

“Do you remember Bebel's speeches in popular assemblies and in parliament, did the word Kladderadatsch, collapse, not appear? Certainly. Didn't he, in private conversations with us and with me, incredulous Thomas , set the exact date when the story happened? He doesn't deny it, and he can't deny it, and here in and out of the hall classic witnesses are the crowd. The scenes have been there so and so often: I didn't believe it was all over in 1889, and when 1889 was prolonged into the mid-1990s, I didn't believe it either and when Engels and Bebel set the deadline for 1898, I remained the doubter and said: wait and see! "

At the turn of the century, the theory of the collapse of the capitalist class state found a broad following among German workers. In Germany in particular, workers were not only economically exploited, but above all politically oppressed. The prognosis of the collapse of the system on which the repressive empire was based gave the German workers a particularly intense feeling of common solidarity and showed alternatives and ways out. With his regularly repeated theory of collapse, Bebel was able to rely on the majority of the party base, which derived its self-confidence precisely from this apparently scientifically proven determinism.

In the mass strike debate, Rosa Luxemburg took up the concept of the great Kladderadatsch again in polemical form. In the dispute with Karl Kautsky , Luxemburg accused him of getting very close with his theory of the idea of ​​the great Kladderadatsch:

“[…] And we suddenly get an image that bears a strong resemblance to the 'last, big day', the general strike according to an anarchist recipe. The idea of ​​the mass strike is transformed from a historical process of the modern proletarian class struggles in its decade-long final period into a joke in which the 'whole proletariat of the Reich' suddenly puts an end to the bourgeois social order with one jolt. "

With the end of the First World War certain parts of the collapse theory seemed to be confirmed, especially that that after the war the revolution would follow. The “great Kladderadatsch” no longer played a role in the theoretical disputes of the SPD.

Watch the video: Kladderadatsch - This Is Not A Simulation


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  3. Tracy

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