Caricature and propaganda

Caricature and propaganda

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Title: European civilization.

Author : JOHNSON Arthur (1874 - 1954)

Date shown: 1916

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: “Die Zivilisierung Europas”. Cartoon taken from the newspaper "Kladderadatsch", n ° 30, published on July 23, 1916.

Storage location: Staatsbibliothek website

Contact copyright: © BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown website

Picture reference: 06-505058

European civilization.

© BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

Publication date: September 2008

Historical context

The century of the press

In France in 1848, following the February revolution and thanks to the abolition of censorship, The Charivari is experiencing a second youth. In Berlin, the civil war of March 1848 gave rise to its German equivalent, the humorous and conservative journal Kladderadatsch (“Patatras” in French), founded by Albert Hofman and David Kalisch, which gradually became an integral part of political and literary life. Around 1890, the one who defined himself as "the sole manager of the mass of newspaper readers" produced 50,000 copies. At the beginning of the 20th century, satirical newspapers still played a central role: they were the mirror of public opinion. Through it, German and French designers create an outrageous, sometimes crude, even grotesque image of the “neighboring country”, which permeates the collective imagination of the two peoples for a long time.

Image Analysis

Caricature in the service of propaganda

At the beginning of the XXe century, Kladderadatsch gets overtaken by Simplicissimus and by Der wahre Jakob. From 1909 Gustav Brandt and German-American artist Arthur Johnson became the leading authors and cartoonists of the newspaper, which from 1914 supported the war effort. On July 1, 1916, the Anglo-French offensive on the Somme began, one of the bloodiest battles of the 1914-1918 war, which left many young soldiers, enlisted volunteers, on the battlefield. The Kladderadatsch of July 23, 1916 evokes this episode through one of his privileged targets: the character of the Senegalese rifleman. Animated by jolts as if he were indulging in a dance of death, the soldier, engaged in the opposing ranks, has turned into a bloodthirsty being who, instead of the regular knapsack, carries the skull of an enemy. Prominent mouth and jaws, nose ring, necklace of teeth around his neck: he is a cannibal. Only a bayonet sword-holder and madder breeches remain of the regular uniform.


The "dark force"

On the eve of the First World War, colonial rivalries between France, the United Kingdom and Germany were very keen. While the first two share many parts of Asia and especially Africa, Germany creates a smaller empire. When war broke out, the French and British armies had hundreds of thousands of colonial "natives" mobilized and sent to theaters of operations.
Created in 1857, the corps of infantrymen recruited throughout French West Africa. Republican discourse presents them as models of civilizing assimilation. They are the “dark force” advocated by Mangin and Jaurès. However, Germany sees the use of soldiers from Africa, whom it considers savages, as proof of French barbarism. In France, on the other hand, Senegalese tirailleurs fascinate the public. In 1915, the Banania cocoa brand placed on its boxes the figure of a jovial Senegalese tirailleur wearing the iconic red fez with a pompom.
By the end of the war, nearly 600,000 skirmishers had been recruited and 430,000 engaged on various fronts. 82,000 were killed there.

  • Germany
  • caricature
  • War of 14-18
  • Franco-German special issue
  • propaganda
  • racism
  • representation of the enemy
  • Senegalese tirailleurs
  • colonies
  • Jaurès (Jean)
  • hurry
  • colonial troops


Eugène-Jean DUVAL,The epic of the Senegalese tirailleurs, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2005. Jacques LETHEVE,Caricature and the press under the Third Republic, Paris, Armand Colin, 1961 Pierre VALLAUD,14-18, World War I, volumes I and II, Paris, Fayard, 2004.

To cite this article

Emmanuelle GAILLARD, "Caricature and propaganda"

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