Catalog Archive
Auction 195, Lot 438

"Axis Crimes - Don't Let Them Happen Here - Old Europe 1942",

Subject: Europe, World War II

Period: 1942 (published)

Publication: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Color: Printed Color

10.4 x 13.8 inches
26.4 x 35.1 cm
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This striking satirical map served as the front cover of a supplement for The Philadelphia Inquirer on 22 October 1942. The map utilizes the iconic evil imagery of an octopus (popularized by Fred Rose's 1877 Serio-Comic map of Europe, with Russia as an octopus) to portray Germany. The octopus's head is distinctly Adolf Hitler and the tentacles extend across Northwestern and Eastern Europe, tightly gripping the leaders of neighboring countries. Other political caricatures featured on the map are: Benito Mussolini in Italy; France's Philippe Pétain, feebly trying to hold off the octopus's tentacles with his hand; General Francisco Franco stretching his arms out across Spain; Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar turning his back to his European neighbors; and the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Winston Churchill smoking a cigar and standing stoically atop a pile of weapons. Switzerland, Finland and Romania are all depicted as dogs, however, the first two are peaceful while the third is ferociously attacking Russia. Here Russia is shown as somewhat of a savior, having successfully fended off German forces during Operation Barbarossa, chopping off the octopus's tentacles in the east and thrusting a lance toward Romania.

This map was created by Adolf Hoffmeister and Antontin Peel (or Pelc), Czech artists and emigrants who were forced to flee their homeland due to their anti-Nazi artwork. Both men had been prominent figures within the Czech art community and served on the Executive Board of Manes, an Art Society based on Prague. After leaving Czechoslovakia, Hoffmeister and Peel separately made their way to the United States, arriving in 1941. It is unknown how they reunited, but this map appears to have been their first artistic collaboration published in the United States.

This issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer included numerous pictures of German atrocities, one of which is on verso along with a message from President Roosevelt denouncing "Axis Brutality." The Writers' War Board mailed out 1,000 copies of this issue to advisory members and authors in the United States to increase anti-German sentiment and encourage the publication of further articles on German war crimes.


Condition: A

A boldly colored example with a few tiny abrasions. Professionally backed in thin, archival tissue to support some soft creases and a few tiny tears along the edges of the sheet.

Estimate: $350 - $425

Sold for: $250

Closed on 11/15/2023