Archive for the ‘propaganda’ Category

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Theory: WWI and WWII Propaganda

Propaganda Posters

Back when I was in college, I was wandering through a junk shop and found a file folder that was stamped "Return To Louis Van Den Ecker, Technical Director". I peeked inside and found a pile of interesting clippings. It was a reference file dealing with propaganda posters from the First and Second World Wars. I bought the folder and brought it home and did some research on Louis Van Den Ecker. He turned out to have been an expert employed by the studios to insure that their depiction of particular times and places were accurate. He worked on the 1939 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beau Geste, Adventures of Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo among many other films. I assembled his clippings into a logical order and mounted them into a scrapbook. Today, we scanned this book for our archive database.

Propaganda Posters

The concept of propaganda is widely misunderstood. Many people automatically assume that it’s a negative thing. But propaganda is just a tool that can be used for either good or bad. Propaganda involves bypassing the intellect and appealing directly to emotion to motivate a group of people to action. During the World Wars, time was of the essence and masses of people needed to work together for the common goal of defending the nation. It would have been too slow to talk each and every move out with the whole population, so governments used powerful imagery to bring everyone together in the war effort.

Propaganda Posters

I’m not sure if it’s just the bias of this particular collection, or if it was actually the case during WWI, but looking at these examples, one can see how inept the Germans were at using propaganda. The German posters in this collection seem to appeal to abstract concepts like national pride, flags and mythology; while the Allied propaganda goes straight for the heart with concepts like motherhood, security, and moral outrage. Look at the example above. The figure in the foreground represents the outrage of the nation at the sight of a sinking ocean liner and a sailor’s hand rising from the surf begging for help. Even after nearly a century, the powerful imagery still makes its point.

Propaganda Posters

Contrast that impact with the poster above… Abstract concepts are stacked up on top of each other… It’s not a baby… it’s a statue of a baby. And it isn’t even a statue of a baby, it’s a statue of a cherub. There is no eye contact, just empty eye sockets. The emotional impact of the bullet hole in the helmet is totally negated by its similarity to the baby’s belly button! It’s hard to imagine this image motivating anyone to give money to the cause.

Propaganda Posters

Early examples, like the one above, were created by renowned artists, and the subjects required close inspection, reflection and thought to grasp.

As time went by, the images became more graphic and direct…

Propaganda Posters

Sketches of children orphaned by the war were potent images…

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

National and religious symbols seem to be much less effective, even when they are more interesting from an artistic standpoint…

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

These next two are interesting because they show how the two sides saw themselves. The German soldier is idealized in a kitsch way, while the French soldier seems more real and down to earth…

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

Which side would you rather be on?

Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

When the nations of the world entered into World War I, the methods and techniques of propaganda were naiive and innocent. But by the end of the First World War, the techniques of waging war in the hearts and minds of the public had entered the modern era. Propaganda had become much more sophisticated and powerful.

Propaganda Posters

The rapid growth in the sophistication and effectiveness of propaganda during WWI was largely due to the work of one man… a man who went from spending his life as a quiet landscape painter to being the most powerful cartoonist of his day, Louis Raemakers. His story is a fascinating one, and you can read about it and see examples of his work on our article titled…

Louis Raemaekers- The Cartoonist Who Helped Win The First World War

Propaganda Posters

By WWII, leaders realized that battles could be fought and won on the homefront. Propaganda became an important part of motivating the population to work together toward the common goal of defeating the axis powers. Compare the WWI posters in this and the previous post to the examples from WWII presented here. Notice how the design and layout enhance the emotional impact of the concepts. Many of these posters still pack a wallop.

Propaganda Posters
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Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters
Propaganda Posters

For more on this subject, see Alfred and Elizabeth Briant Lee’s excellent book The Fine Art of Propaganda: A Study of Father Coughlin’s Speeches 1938.

Now you may be asking yourself, what does propaganda have to do with animation? Well… Think for a moment about the definition of propaganda, "bypassing the intellect and motivating an audience through a direct appeal to emotion" and then think about this image from an animated film I’m sure you’re familiar with…

Pinocchio

Can you think of any other plot devices used in animated features that operate on this direct level?

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.

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This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Editorial Cartoonists: Louis Raemaekers- The Cartoonist Who Helped Win The First World War

Louis Raemaekers

Berntstorff- The Next To Be Kicked Out

LOUIS RAEMAEKERS

(1869-1956)

“The cartoons of Louis Raemaekers constitute the most powerful of the honorable contributions made by neutrals to the cause of civilization in the World War.” -Theodore Roosevelt, 1917

Louis RaemaekersLouis RaemaekersLouis Raemaekers was born in the Netherlands in 1869. He led a quiet life, painting landscapes while studying and teaching in Amsterdam and Brussels. In 1906 he was asked by a newspaper in Amsterdam, Het Handelsblad, to produce a series of cartoons. His initial attempt at a comic strip was a complete failure, so he turned to politics.

Raemaekers’ interest in international affairs led him to speak out about German ambitions for expanding their territory into Holland and the Allsace region of France. This got him into trouble with the editors of Het Handelsblad. The Netherlands was neutral and Germanic aggression was a hot issue, so they started cutting back on the number of cartoons by Raemaekers in their pages. When a rival paper, De Telegraaf offered him more editorial freedom and as much space as he could fill, he jumped at the chance.

Louis Raemaekers

“I was in prison for life, but they found I had many abilities for bringing civilization to our neighbors, so now I am a soldier.”

At the beginning of the First World War, Germany invaded Belgium. The Netherlands was neutral, so refugees streamed across the border. With them, they carried stories of German atrocities against the Belgian people. Raemaekers secretly crossed the border into Belgium to see for himself if the stories were true and returned outraged at what he had witnessed. He began to produce fiercely Anti-German political cartoons that burned with the passion of personal conviction.

Louis Raemaekers

The Massacre of the Innocents in Belgium
“All in good order. Men to the right, women to the left.”

Raemaekers’ cartoons were picked up for distribution by the British government in a series of propaganda pamphlets. The campaign was so effective, the Germans used their influence in the Netherlands to have Raemaekers tried for “endangering Dutch neutrality”. The charges were eventually dropped, but Kaiser Wilhelm II put a bounty of 12,000 marks on his head. When his wife began to receive anonymous threats, Raemaekers realized that his family was in great danger. He relocated to England, where his cartoons were celebrated in books and museum exhibitions, and syndicated to newspapers across France, Canada and the United States.

Louis Raemaekers

The German Tango- “From East to West
and West to East, I dance with thee.”

Raemaekers cartoons were instrumental in fighting against deeply entrenched American isolationism, and in 1917 the United States entered the war. Raemaekers quickly organized a lecture tour of the US and Canada, rallying the allies to support the French and mobilize against the Germans. The Christian Science Monitor said of Raemaekers, “From the outset his works revealed something more than the humorous or ironical power of the caricaturist; they showed that behind the mere pictorial comment on the war was a man who thought and wrought with a deep and uncompromising conviction as to right and wrong.”

Louis Raemaekers

Von Bethmann-Hollweg And Truth
“Truth is on the path and nothing will stay her.”

After the war, Raemaekers withdrew from international affairs, spending the last 25 years of his life quietly in France and Brussels. By the time he passed away in 1956, the world had pretty much forgotten him. But in his obituary, the New York Times summed up his career, saying, “It has been said of Raemaekers that he was the one private individual who exercised a real and great influence on the course of the 1914-18 War. There were a dozen or so people (emperors, kings, statesmen, and commanders-in-chief) who obviously, and notoriously, shaped policies and guided events. Outside that circle of the great, Louis Raemaekers stands conspicuous as the one man who, without any assistance of title or office, indubitably swayed the destinies of peoples.”

Louis Raemaekers

The Harvest Is Ripe

Today, Raemaekers is remembered more by students of the First World War than by cartoonists and artists. His work has been looked down upon with scorn by certain revisionist historians who argue that some of the more extreme atrocities depicted in Raemaekers’ cartoons never took place. It is always difficult in wartime to know what is happening behind enemy lines. Although Raemakers made several clandestine research trips to Belgium during the war, he also depended on second hand accounts, some of which have since been proven to be untrue. But no one denies that Raemaekers himself believed his cartoons to be completely factual.

Louis Raemaekers

A Fact- The brutalization by Major Tille of the German Army on a small boy of Maastricht was verified by an eye-witness.

This sincerity is what makes him important to cartoonists today. He deserves to be remembered, not as just a propagandist, but as an artist who stood up for what he believed. His passion carried him from being a provincial landscape painter to becoming one of the most powerful and influential individuals on the world stage. There is tremendous power in the art of cartooning. It’s not just “ducks and rabbits” and mindless children’s entertainment. It can change the world. No cartoonists should ever forget that.

Louis Raemaekers

The Future- “For freedom’s battle once begun,
though baffled oft, is ever won.”

For more detailed information on Louis Raemaekers’ life and career, see John Adcock’s excellent article at Yesterday’s Papers.

Louis Raemaekers

The Sea Mine- Von Terpitz’s Victims

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Editorial CartoonsEditorial Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Editorial Cartoons.
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This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.