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Bred Vil’gel’ma

  • Publisher: Tipo Lit. I.M. Mashistova, Moskva [I. M. Mashistov, Lithographers, Moscow] (Printer & Publisher)
  • Date: 1914
  • Dimensions: Image: 40 x 61.1 cms.


Striking satirical Russian propaganda poster dating from the early months of World War One: The Kaiser’s Russian “nightmare”

About this piece:

Bred Vil’gel’ma [The Ravings of Wilhelm / Wilhelm’s Nightmare

Laid on linen backing with additional borders extending beyond poster sheet all round: 46 x 67.2 cms. Printed colours.

A scarce Russian poster dating from the first weeks of the war and approved by the Moscow military censors on 23rd October 1914. It vividly caricatures the German Kaiser’s nightmarish dreams about the advance of the much-feared Cossack cavalry on Germany’s Eastern Front. The design is very much in the style & format of the traditional satirical Russian broadsheet print or lubok, featuring a large colourful image of the terrified Wilhelm waking up from his nightmare to observe a lance-bearing Cossack cavalryman galloping towards his gaping mouth across the map of the European Continent that decorates his bedspread.

The accompanying four stanza poem by R Mech roughly translates as follows:

Wilhelm decided to make war

Wilhelm did not expect humiliation

“I don’t care a fig for anyone at all (lit : I spit on everyone)

I will conquer them all quickly.

I alone will capture towns

I will turn the world into a trench”

But now instead of this

They’ve got him by the neck.

When the dark of night falls

He has a terrible dream

That a Don cossack is riding

Towards him with a terrible lance.

On his brow is cold sweat

His eyes are goggling in fear.

“The cossack’s going to jump into my mouth!”

Wilhelm is heard to cry…