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Neueste Momentaufnahme von Europa und Halbasien

  • Author: KASPAR, Wilhelm
  • Publisher: Graht & Kaspar, Hamburg
  • Date: 1915
  • Dimensions: sheet: 71 x 49 cms


Updated summer 1915 edition of German publisher & artist Wilhelm Kaspar’s rare satirical propaganda map of the European War

About this piece:

II. Ausgabe (Sommer 1915) Neueste Momentaufnahme von Europa und Halbasien. Neue und verbessserte Auflage von Wilh. Kaspar.

Separately issued colour-printed lithograph. Wide margins. Some minor creasing and verso reinforcements to blank margins, particularly to minor nicks and short tears in upper left and upper right. Two small brown spots to upper margins. In all an attractive and well-preserved example.

A newly revised & updated edition of an original satirical map designed by German artist Wilhelm Kaspar of the Hamburg publishers, Graht & Kaspar and first published in late 1914 under the title Momentaufnahme von Europa und Halbasien. This new second edition, reflects the prevailing position in Europe in July 1915, following the huge territorial advances made by the German & Austrian Armies on the Eastern Front and the so-called “Great Retreat” of the Russians, particularly in the Galicia-Poland salient.

Germany is still portrayed as the striding figure of Deutsche Michel, the symbolic sleepy German farmer in hobnailed boots, spiritual embodiment of the nation, easily identifiable by his familiar tasselled nightcap. Supported by the Imperial German Eagle, he crushes Belgium in his right hand, as bees still continue to fly towards Britain from artillery batteries along his back. The bees appear to be the symbolic incarnation of Germany’s powerful fleet of Zeppelin airships, which are also now depicted. London would witness the first aerial raid by the airship LZ.38 on May 31st 1915 (resulting in seven civilian deaths & over thirty five injured) and their evil menace would continue to cause consternation and terror on the British Home front in the ensuing two years.

In France, the banner of “Liberte, Egalite & Fraternite” still flies as the combined forces of a British and French soldier seek to forestall the German advance. In Britain itself, the country takes the form of a soldier seated on a British bulldog, an array of ships tied to his tailcoats. From across the Atlantic appears the clearly ironic “neutral American line” a continuous line of artillery shells, a reference to America’s neutral status but her suspected covert support of the British cause through regular supplies of munitions. A vicious cobra, India, encircles his waist, ready to strike, one of the adjacent coat tails marked with the words “Volkerrecht” (National Rights).

Kaspar provides a completely new explanatory descriptive key to the revised map as well as offering a colour-coded identification of enemy and allied powers. A translation of the key reads roughly as follows:


Germany: Deutsche Michel has woken up and fights bravely in East and West. With his left foot he strikes the Russian violently in the face, his right foot resists fiercely hard against France’s Eastern border, whilst with his right hand he vigorously holds off the French offensive.

The German eagle intervenes in combative fashion.
Austria-Hungary: The Lion clamps its claws hard & impulsively into its faithless former Ally (Italy), the Navy shows him her ships, whilst in the background the 32cm mortar sits waiting at the ready. German and Austrian Generals purge Galicia thoroughly and in Poland they empty out the Russians equally thoroughly with an iron broom. In France, the French High Command maintains its unceasing great offensive, in which the English (in self-defence) now give their help, but keeping a hand firmly on Calais. The French leader (Poincaré) makes every effort to provide support for Italian warmongering. England throws wide open his well-known liar-mouth (as does the English bulldog, the symbol of England); he clenches his left hand and receives with his right the shipments from “neutral” America. German bombs (Islands) explode around his head. His ships sit in safe-keeping in Western harbours. Ireland is in a desperate state but dependent upon English support.

Russia: The Russian bear now turns around and pulls in its tail, commanded by its glory-less Leader (Grand Duke Nicholas, removed from overall Command of the Russian Armies by the Tsar in September 1915), in the interior and in the south, Revolution ignites in an enormous conflagration. Curses and disease accompany the whole scene. Finland clenches his fists in his pockets over Russian misery but must be obedient. Italy sits on a rickety throne and has become suicidal and with his right hand has destroyed the Triple Alliance Treaty. The “Poet” (Gabriele d’Annuzio) is situated by his ear and receives Judas’ silver; the deluded population blow the war trumpet and carry on playing the barrel organ. The symbols of the Triple Alliance lie broken in pieces in every corner, the volcanos (Mt Etna) are horrified. Corsica and Sardinia are Prisoner of War Camps. Serbia is wedged in the stocks and squints towards Albania over her never-ending bone of contention and question marks. Montenegro is a nest of flees. Greece, biding her time, strikes a threatening attitude towards Italy and Serbia.

Bulgaria remains very quiet and reads the “Balkanska Tribuna”. Rumania, at the crossroads, receives from all sides important intelligence from the Quadruple Alliance (Entente Powers). Turkey, Germany’s eastern comrade-in-arms, sits on the Golden Horn and energetically closes up both the Dardanelles and Bosphorus with hands and feet; a Holy War now rages in Asia Minor. At Gallipoli can be found a hard nut and, on the coast, a Turkish mousetrap.

Spain slowly wakes up and is enraged over the obstruction that is Gibraltar. Portugal is now armed, observes the battlefields and has empty pockets. Switzerland is neutral and tightens the screws powerfully in self-defence against all the firmament. Denmark is indifferent, but elf-like, reads all of the “political” war reports. Sweden and Norway extend a neutral hand towards Michel and offer him sustenance. Holland objects to every assault on her strict neutrality. Belgium is wiped out (vergriffen =literally: out of stock/out of print). The different Oceans and Seas are now changed to: Death Sea (Tod See = Baltic), Murder Sea (Mord See = Nord See = North Sea), English Scandal (engl. Skandal = engl. Kanal = English Channel), the calm Atlantic Ocean (Stiller atlantischer Ozean), the Sea of Influence (Mitleidenschaftliches-Meer = Mittelandisches Meer = Mediterranean), the bitter Adria (die bittere Adria = Adriatic Sea), the Marble Sea (Marmor-Meer = Sea of Marmara), the Fatal Sea (das fatale Meer = Black Sea). The scale of the map can be found in Morocco. The shipping and air routes relating to the current period are new.

The Xs dotted across the map mark the sites of the growing number of enemy losses and disasters.

Whilst several institutional collections and libraries appear to hold examples of the first edition of the map, however this second revised edition appears much rarer. We have located only one institutional example in the collections of the Landeshauptarchiv Sachsen-Anhalt and currently know of one other in a private European collection.

Refs: Barron Maps Blog, July 2015