Catalog Archive
Auction 184, Lot 518

"Flying Visit of Truth to Berlin in the Form of an R.A.F. Leaflet Raid Here Fancifully Depicted - But Not Forgetting a Great Many Hard Facts",

Subject: Berlin, Germany, World War II

Period: 1939 (published)

Publication: Illustrated Magazine

Color: Black & White

19.3 x 12.6 inches
49 x 32 cm
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Published on 9 December 1939, this wartime cartoon commemorates the first Royal Air Force (RAF) leaflet raid that was conducted on Berlin in October 1939. The RAF was not authorized to bomb civilian areas until after the German fire-bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940, and instead dropped propaganda leaflets. On 1 October 1939, four Whitley Bombers from the No. 10 Squadron became the first British aircraft to fly over Berlin during wartime. Their feat was heralded by the British and were seen as a sign of Germany's inferior air defenses and Berlin's vulnerability to attack. Drawn by Rex Whistler from a bomber's perspective, this cartoon is centered on Friedrichstrasse in Berlin and shows the angels of the RAF led by Britannia releasing leaflets over the city. In the opposing corner, Hitler, Goebbels and Goering support a battered Nazi flag and shake their fists at the angels, while Von Ribbentrop hides under a table. The Nazi flag is actually made from a Jolly Roger flag sporting an SS hat, making it more comical than menacing. This Illustrated Magazine centerfold includes an article on verso describing "What the R.A.F. sees over Berlin," accompanied by an aerial photo of Potsdamerplatz.

British artist and illustrator, Rex Whistler, continued painting after joining the army in 1940. He was killed in action in 1944 at the age of 39.

References: Curtis & Pedersen (War Map) pp. 120-123.

Condition: B+

A nice example with minor soiling along the centerfold at top, light toning along the edges of the sheet, and a few tiny staple holes along the centerfold, as issued.

Estimate: $600 - $750

Sold for: $450

Closed on 9/15/2021