Rare German Satirical Map of World War I
"Gedrangte Fruhjahrsubersicht von Europa im Jahre 1915",
Subject: Europe, World War I
Period: 1915 (dated)
Color: Printed Color
26.3 x 20.2 inches
66.8 x 51.3 cm
This fascinating German propaganda map depicts a "Condensed Overview of Europe in the Spring of 1915." Published by Lucas Grafe, this map depicts the Germans' view of the alliance situation and territorial issues towards the end of the first year of the war. The key countries involved in the war are represented by caricatures of political leaders and the military. Each country is accompanied by a short rhyme describing (and typically making fun of) the country's position. Only the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires are shown in a positive light, with their majestic queens at the helm surrounded by abundant weaponry and superior armies, accompanied by the verse "Deutschland Ostreich uber alles - alles andre hat den Dalles" (Germany and Austria above all - all others are "on the rocks"). Paul von Hindenburg, a commanding officer who led the German army to several key early victories against the Russians, appears chopping off the hand of a giant Russian, armed only with a bottle of Vodka. The French-Revolutionary heroine, Marianne, is depicted atop a mechanical horse with Raymond Poincare (President) and Theophile Delcasse (Minister of War and Foreign Affairs) attempting to turn the gears and move the horse forward without any success. Britain is personified as John Bull, holding the flags of his allies and sitting on a large sack of money that is being rapidly emptied due to a hole in its side. There is a "For Sale" sign posted in Albania, and in Africa appears the verse "Im grossen heissen Afrika - weiss man nicht recht - was da geschah" (In big hot Africa, no one quite knows what happened). Issued folding with printed title pastedown on verso.
Although the human personification of continents and countries can be seen as early as the 14th century (on maps by Opicinus de Canestris), human and animal metaphors on maps reached a new level in Europe between 1845 and 1945 with political cartoon maps. The rise of these satirical maps reflected the momentous political and cultural changes that occurred during the time. Political leaders were caricaturized and European nations were given symbolic identities that lent humor and accessibility to the geographical map. Based on popular stereotypes, these visual representations even found their way into the classroom to help bring geography and politics to life. Original serio-comic maps are very scarce due to their ephemeral nature, although they have been reproduced as posters.
References: Curtis & Pederson, pp. 52-55.
A clean, bright and nearly pristine example with a couple of very minor soft creases.