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Karl Schwesig political cartoon mocking a Nazi parade

Object | Accession Number: 1988.5.1

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    Karl Schwesig political cartoon mocking a Nazi parade

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    Brief Narrative
    Satirical drawing created by Karl Schwesig in February 1938 in Antwerp, with caricatures of soldiers, a Nazi officer, and Nazi eagles on a parade float. It is part of a series of eight political cartoons published in an illegal newspaper, the Kolner Rosenmontags-Zeitung (Cologne Rose Monday Newspaper). The newspaper was distributed at the Cologne Carnival on Rose Monday before Lent in early 1938. The printer in Cologne was unable to smuggle the dangerous drawings out of Germany, so he kept them in his shop, where they were damaged by a fire during the war. After Hitler came to power in January 1933, Schwesig, a Communist, was arrested and jailed for 16 months. After his release in 1935, he lived in Antwerp, Belgium. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Schwesig was arrested and sent to Vichy France, where he was held in St. Cyprien, Gurs, Noe, and Nexon internment camps. In 1943, he was sent to Ulmer Hoeh prison in Dusseldorf, Germany, where he was liberated by American forces in April 1945.
    Artwork Title
    Der Achs-Ionär
    Alternate Title
    Series Title
    Rosenmontag [Rose Monday]
    creation:  1938 February
    creation: Antwerp (Belgium)
    distribution: Cologne (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    Artist: Karl Schwesig
    Subject: Karl Schwesig
    Karl Schwesig was born on June 19, 1898, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. His father was a miner. From 1916 to 1918, Schwesig served in the German Army during the First World War (1914-1918). In 1918, Schwesig began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf. In 1921, he left the conservative academy and joined the Junge Rhineland artist group. In 1924, Schwesig cofounded the satirical magazine Die Peitsche (The Whip). The right wing Nazi Party was growing rapidly in popularity duirng the 1920s and Schwesig was an outspoken anti-Nazi. He joined the Communist Party in the late 1920’s.

    Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933 and the country was soon ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. On July 11, 1933, Schwesig was arrested for his anti-Nazi commentary. He was detained by the SA and interrogated for the names of colleagues who also resisted the Nazis. He was sent to Ulmer Höhe prison in Dusseldorf. In 1934, he was convicted of treason and served his sentence in Bendahl prison in Wuppertal. After his release on November 18, 1934, Schwesig was granted political asylum in Belgium and lived in Antwerp. In 1937, his German citizenship was revoked and his property in Germany was confiscated by the Nazi regime.

    On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Schwesig was arrested and deported to St. Cyprien internment camp in Vichy France. In October, he was moved to Gurs internment camp after St. Cyprien was destroyed by flooding. In February 1941, he was transferred to Noé internment camp. In March 1943, he was sent to Nexon internment camp and classified as a politcal prisoner. In June, Schwesig was sent to Fort Romainville prison in Paris and in July to Ulmer Höhe prison in Dusseldorf. Throughout his imprisonment, Schwesig drew images of daily life in the camps. Schwesig was liberated in Ulmer Höhe after American forces captured Dusseldorf on April 17, 1945. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7. Schwesig stayed in Dusseldorf. He died, age 57, in 1955.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Right section of a drawing in ink on paper with a jagged burnt left edge with a caricature of a group of characters riding on top of a large flatbed truck with 2 visible wheels. It is a parade float with a side panel labelled: DER ACHS-IONÄR. On the left, at the front of the flatbed is a large, upright scrawny eagle with tucked, spread wings and a swastika medallion. It is marching with the right leg raised in goosestep formation. The leg of a second bird is visible to its right, along the torn edge. Along this edge of the float are song lyrics, Mantua in Banden / Andreas Hofer Lag, a popular Austrian folk song. Next is a chariot with a swastika spoked wheel carrying a giant disembodied male head resting on jackboots. The head is tilted back and most of the face consists of a large, square, open, mouth with 2 rows of teeth with vampirelike fangs. Above it is a showerhead spraying liquid on its face. To the right is a small dancing man wearing lederhosen, hat, and hobnailed boots giving a sloppy Nazi salute. Behind the chariot are 6 cartoonlike, barelegged men with similar indistinct, moustached wearing and perhaps night shirts. The man in the left front carries a rifle. Behind them is a man with rimless glasses and a small dark mustache, in a military uniform and visor cap, with his right arm raised in a Nazi salute. He resembles SS Reichsfuhrer Himmler. The drawing was burnt in a fire and the left side missing.
    overall: Height: 10.625 inches (26.988 cm) | Width: 11.875 inches (30.163 cm)
    overall : paper, ink, graphite
    front, upper right corner, pencil : [?L or 2] sp
    front, lower right corner, pencil : Ä
    back, upper center, red pencil : I.
    back, lower left corner, stamped, purple ink : Nachlaß Karl Schwesig [Estate Karl Schwesig]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The drawing was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-29 07:53:52
    This page:

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