Catalog Archive
Auction 175, Lot 360

Rare French Propaganda Map Showing Prussian Octopus

"La Guerre est l'Industrie Nationale de la Prusse",

Subject: Europe, World War I

Period: 1917 (dated)


Color: Printed Color

11.5 x 8.4 inches
29.2 x 21.3 cm
Download High Resolution Image
(or just click on image to launch the Zoom viewer)

This is a small edition of a propaganda map that was created to convince a war-weary French public that France's participation in the war was necessary to secure not only the country's freedom but even its entire existence. Created by artist Maurice Neumon, who is known for several famous WWI posters, the central feature is a large octopus wearing a Pickelhaube helmet to represent the German-Prussian Empire, with its imperialistic tentacles reaching throughout Europe and even as far as Turkey. At top is a quote by French revolutionary Comte de Mirabeau, who famously stated in 1788, "Warfare is Prussia's National Industry." Prussia is delineated with a bold black line, with various regions within Prussia color-coded to show the Prussian and German conquests during different time periods. Regions that are marked in red dots are those that are currently occupied by the German army. In the original, larger edition of this map, these occupied regions only included Belgium, parts of northern France, and the Alsace-Lorraine region, which was "torn away" from France in 1871. However this updated edition extends the occupied areas to include most of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, further demonstrating the growing threat posed by Prussia's military.

Symbolically, France is the only country that is not labeled, further reinforcing the belief that France might cease to exist if it does not fight against the German foe. Instead the space is filled with a declaration made by the French government on 25 October 1917 indicating that the invasion of Alsace-Lorraine 47 years ago is no different than the invasion of other French departments within the past three years. Another foreshadowing quote at the bottom of the map is from the Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-German League), an extreme right-wing, nationalist and anti-Semitic organization, which proclaimed on the eve of the war that: "The German people must elevate themselves to the Masters of the inferior peoples of Europe." France's response is below the map in the form of a quote by General Philippe Pétain, a French war hero during WWI: "Having been attacked, we can only defend ourselves in the name of Liberty and to protect our Existence." His message is further reinforced at top right with the message: "All of France stands up for the victory of the right."

This small edition includes text on verso titled Le Reve Allemand (The German Dream), which describes the German desire for world domination and economic supremacy. The map was originally produced for La Conference au Village Contre la Propagande Ennemie en France (the village conference against enemy propaganda in France), which was formed in 1917 to counter German propaganda by increasing patriotism throughout France. Published in Paris by P.J. Gallais et Cie. Due to its ephemeral nature, this propaganda leaflet is very rare.

References: cf. Curtis & Pedersen, pp. 78-81.

Condition: B+

Light toning with professional repairs to some tiny tears along the edges of the sheet.

Estimate: $750 - $900

Sold for: $550

Closed on 11/13/2019