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Das ist Polen!

  • Publisher: Druck G Siebert & Söhne, Berlin
  • Date: 1924
  • Dimensions: 71 x 47.5 cms


Viciously anti-Polish German propaganda poster c1924: political unrest & upheaval along German-Polish border post Versailles

About this piece:

60000 politische Gefangene! 25000 Jahre Zuchthaus! Standgerichte für die nationalen Minderheiten. Hunderte von Todesurteilen. Mord, Quälerei sind Regierungssystem. Der Strick der Henker und der Stiefel der Schlachtschitzen sind Gesetz! DAS IST POLEN! Protestieren gegen die polnische Blutherrschaft!

[60000 political prisoners! 25000 years of imprisonment! State courts for the national minorities. Hundreds of death sentences. Murder, torture are system of government. The executioner’s noose and the boot of the Polish szlachta (nobility) are the law! This is Poland! Protest against Polish (blood) domination!]

Colour-printed poster on very thin and poor quality German wartime newspaper type stock, slightly toned. In unrestored condition. Traces of old vertical & horizontal folds with some light surface wear and minor pinholes. One or two edge minor edge nicks and tears, otherwise good. Ink inscription on verso in French reads: “Poster hung all across Germany in 1924 and seized in the occupied territories”.

A rare and extremely hard-hitting anti-Polish map poster referencing the ethnic fallout along the German-Polish border in the wake of the November 1918 Armistice & the territorial settlement of the Treaty of Versailles [1919]. The French inscription on the reverse suggests that the poster dates from 1924 and was displayed across Germany but perhaps in the more volatile & predominantly ethnically German areas along the new West Prussian-Polish frontier in the east.

Versailles provided for a reconstituted independent Poland with control over large areas of land populated by those who were both ethnically and linguistically German. Landlocked Poland was also now provided with an outlet to the  Baltic Sea via a “corridor” created by passing over to her control the former German provinces of Posen and West Prussia. In the process East Prussia was separated from the rest of Germany and the Baltic port of Danzig was made a free city under the control of the League of Nations.

Indeed the complicated ethnic and demographic make-up of this region led to considerable political and social unrest & upheaval after 1918, most notably in the neighbouring region of Upper Silesia, where three consecutive Polish uprisings had taken place between 1919 and 1921, culminating in a plebiscite organized under the auspices of the Inter-Allied Plebiscite Commission.

Anti-Commission & anti-Polish sentiment had also expressed itself violently in neighbouring ethnically German regions, including in Breslau (present-day Wroclaw) in Lower Silesia, marked bottom centre, where in 1921 the Polish Consulate and a Polish School had been burned down by a German mob and where the already small Polish population fled in the face of rising local antipathy.

The newly established borders created by the Versailles Treaty between the areas of the now Polish Corridor  – Posnania (Poznan Voivodeship) – and German Lower Silesia can be seen on the map. The pink western regions are German, the grey eastern regions are Polish..

The poster is brutally vicious & hard-hitting in its anti-Polish stance & sentiment – it’s wording & vision is definitely not one for the squeamish or faint-hearted. All of the Polish settlements of the Polish Corridor – Konitz, Brome, Gnesen, Posen, Kalisch, Lodz & Radom – and eastwards as far as Warsaw – are marked by gallows, graves and bloody destruction. The two giant Polish figures in the process of viciously garrotting their bound & defenceless (German) victim – one an army officer, the other an archetypal Polish nobleman (szlachta) with feathered hat – are evil grotesques, caricatured in a manner strongly reminiscent of Dmitri Moor and other Russian Bolshevik poster artists of this same period.

A darkly sinister and viciously hard-hitting propaganda poster that highlights the deeply divisive political & ethnic tensions along the German-Polish frontier in the early 1920’s in the wake of the territorial changes produced by the post-war Treaty of Versailles.