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Der Brummer Lustige Kriegs-Blätter Nr.4 1914

  • Author: 'Joe Loe' (Joe Loewenstein) (artist)
  • Publisher: Der Brummer, Berlin (publishers)
  • Engraver: Hugo Sensch (printers)
  • Date: 1914
  • Dimensions: 25 x 38 cms


Striking 1914 German propaganda cartoon depicting a global battle between a giant German soldier & voracious British spider

About this piece:

Der Brummer Lustige Kriegs-Blätter Nr.4 1914

Großreinemachen : “Warte, du Biest die längste Zeit sollst du Känte gesponnen haben!”

[The Great Cleansing Process: “Wait, you Beast, you’ve had as long as you’re meant to for spinning your web”!]

Disbound yet complete 6-page issue of Der Brummer’s 1914 magazine, Nr 4, of which this cartoon forms the front cover. Colour-printed cartoons to front and back pages with text and additional black & white and colour cartoons on internal pages. Slight paper toning but otherwise in excellent condition.

This striking propaganda image was published in one of the earliest issues of the German satirical magazine,  Der Brummer (The Bluebottle)a colloquial military term used to describe the German artillery’s large howitzer canons. It had opened publication in Berlin shortly after the outbreak of World War One. This example comes from the fourth issue of the magazine, of which there were only 15 in 1914 itself, so most probably dates from early October 1914.

In this scene of global confrontation the military might of Germany, symbolically represented by the ever-popular German soldier, the feldgrau, unleashes a violent assault upon the imperial might of Great Britain, here in the equally symbolic form of a giant & malevolently voracious spider, Union flag emblazoned on back and chequered glengarry on head. Two of the spider’s legs have already been snapped off as the feldgrau wields his rifle high above his head to rain yet further blows on the vicious all-consuming arachnid.

The image of the malevolent British spider weaving a web of global domination was one that was widely disseminated in the German satirical press in both the pre-war period and early days of the war. It was an image reprised in Eugen von Baumgarten’s finely executed propaganda poster (and postcard) entitled L’Entente Cordiale 1915, in which a similarly malevolent British spider weaves its entangling web across Continental Europe and around many of its wartime allies whilst simultaneously gorging itself on the corpse of a defunct French soldier & ally. Continuing the theme, another 1916 German cartoon from Der Wahre Jacob depicted Lord Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, as a nation-devouring spider (Weltkreuzspinne) trapping helpless victims  in his global web. It was a well-used propagandist trope which would see further employment in the Second World War, perhaps most famously in Kimon Evan Marengo’s c1944 poster (One by One his legs will be Broken / Une a une on lui brisera les pattes) depicting Adolf Hitler as an increasingly vulnerable European spider, his legs progressively amputated by repeated Allied attacks.

Der Brummer magazine had as its signature motif the small cartoon of a German artilleryman firing a shell from a giant howitzer, as seen here in the upper left of the title. Offered for a price of 10 pfennig, the magazine proved exceptionally popular, employing numerous prominent cartoonists, including “Joe Loe” (Joe Loewenstein), the designer of this striking image. Der Brummer sold well throughout the war years and continued in print until at least 1930.

“Joe Loe” – Joe Loewenstein, who in an early photograph appears as a smartly dressed & quite serious young man sporting a monocle in his left eye, was a well-known cartoonist & poster designer whose career began to take off in Berlin in the immediate pre-war years. His work frequently appeared in der Brummer & in similar satirical magazines, such as Jugend, throughout World War One. In 1919 he designed an anti-Bolshevik poster for the first political elections of the new Weimar Republic. He was also a well-regarded book illustrator and jacket designer. In the late 1920s he appears to have moved to Barcelona, where he continued his work, principally as a commercial poster designer. After the early 1930s he disappears completely from the records and nothing seems to be known of his later life.

Refs: Matthew Stibbe: German Anglophobia and the Great War 1914-1918 (CUP, 2001) – illustrated on front cover