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Satirical drawing by Karl Schwesig depicting the subjugation of Yugoslavia to Nazi Germany

Object | Accession Number: 1988.5.5

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    Satirical drawing by Karl Schwesig depicting the subjugation of Yugoslavia to Nazi Germany

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    Brief Narrative
    Satirical ink drawing created by Karl Schwesig in February 1938 in Antwerp, depicting a man and three scantily clad women protesting the Slavs. It is part of a series of eight satirical drawings published in an illegal newspaper, the Kolner Rosenmontags-Zeitung (Cologne Rose Monday Newspaper). The newspaper was printed in Cologne and distributed at the Cologne Carnival on Rose Monday before Lent in early 1938. The printer 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 imprisoned 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, where he was liberated by American forces in April 1945.
    Artwork Title
    Wells du am balkan erbe-reech en de fott de serbe
    Series Title
    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
    Drawing in ink on paper of a man and 3 women marching in the street. The man is in the center, wearing a suit. He has slicked back hair, large dark eyebrows, and a smarmy facial expression with a small, smiling mouth. He carries a book in his right hand and is raising his top hat with the other. A small body wearing a military uniform with a swastika armband and tall boots sticks out from underneath the back of the man’s coat. The women are marching behind him, yelling and carrying signs that say “TOD DEN SLAVEN aber HOCH die Jugoslaven!” They have short hair and are wearing translucent slips, stockings, and heels. There are 2 dogs wearing bands with painted swastikas mating on the street in front of the man. On the left is a building with a peaked roof and 2 swastika flags. There is a large topless woman in a window on the second floor and 4 nude women standing in 2 open doorways. On the right is a building with a nude woman standing in a doorway under a sign that says “Kleine Stojadino WITSCH-GASSE”. There are 2 topless women in 2 windows on the second floor. The sky is black. There is black text written in the lower left corner: WELLS DO AM BALKAN ERBE REECH EN DE FOTT de SERBE. There is a thick diagonal black line drawn in each lower corner.
    overall: Height: 10.625 inches (26.988 cm) | Width: 14.125 inches (35.878 cm)
    overall : paper, graphite, ink
    front, lower right corner, red pencil : V.
    front, lower right corner, pencil : L sp
    back, upper center, red pencil : V.
    back, lower left corner, stamped, black ink : Nachlaß Karl Schwesig [Estate Karl Schwesig]

    Rights & Restrictions

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    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.
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-29 07:53:53
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