Tag Archives: communism

On Fertile Soil

on-fertile-soil
A Chinese man under Soviet influence is shown spreading seeds onto Chinese soil, symbolizing the fertility of Russian Bolshevism in China as a result of chaos, famine, and rebellion facilitating the process.

The political cartoon On Fertile Soil by John Knott illustrates the vulnerability of China to Russian Bolshevism as a result of continuous unrest, devastating famines, and frequent uprisings during the 1930s of the country. The cartoon published in the Dallas Morning News on May 5th, 1931 depicts “Chaos”, “Famine”, and “Rebellion” as China’s soil that helped plant the seeds of “Bolshevism”, hence the title On Fertile Soil. Additionally, the man holding the bowl of seeds and spreading them onto the soil represents a Chinese man that has been “Sovietized” by Russian influences (Dallas Morning News). According to the Dallas Morning News editorial accompanying the cartoon, China’s Fifth of May, the Chinese Nationalist Party sought to reorganize China’s government and stabilize the country before organized oppositions with relations to Soviet Russia are able to induce a period of “rebellion and discord” which, in combination with China’s famine and financial depression during the time, would allow Russian propaganda an advantage in reaching its goal of “Sovietizing” China. Furthermore, the Nanking Government in China acknowledged the presence of “major foreign powers”, such as Japan, Great Britain, and the United States, and their “extraterritorial privileges” as a potential threat to the nation (Dallas Morning News).  Japan aggression, especially in 1931, led to the Chinese seeking aid from the U.S. since Japan was a mutual enemy (Phillips). The U.S. supplied China the aid the nation needed; however, the U.S.’s first priority was defeating Germany and as the Nationalist Party became more concerned with “eradicating” the Chinese Communist Party that rose instead of “confronting the Japanese occupation”,  the U.S. assistance to the Nationalists would decrease and eventually die out when the Nationalists are defeated by the Communists (Phillips). President of the Nationalist Party, Chiang Kai-shek, strongly opposed communism and desired to force Soviets and other Communist troops out of China, which in turn led to the protracted conflicts between the Nationalist Party and the Chinese Communist Party (Weigelin-Schwiedrzik).

Unrest in China during this time resulted from the mixture of foreign invasion from Japan, political instability, and economical depression, along with the other two issues depicted in Knott’s cartoon, famine and rebellion. With the Nationalist Party weakness being the north, Japan was able to invade Manchuria without being contested, leading to the beginning of World War II in China in 1931 (Calkins). Due to Japan pushing to conquer Chinese territories, the people of China would have to deal with the immense pressure of war in China, resulting in more chaos in the country. As Herbert Gibbons stated in his editorial Unrest In China And Its Meaning For Other Nation, Bolshevist propagandists held the benefit of gaining the Chinese citizens’ trusts by acting as the cure for the “economic ills” and stability of China during its time of anarchy and discord. The Chinese man wearing the Soviet cap in Knott’s cartoon symbolizes this idea of Soviet influence and communism being dispersed in China, foreshadowing the creation of the Chinese Soviet Republic in late 1931. However, with President Chiang leading the Nationalist Party, communists were ”killed or driven to exile” to combat the “Moscow Propaganda”, but even then the idea of communism would still exist even after this forceful tactic in the form of the Chinese Communist Party (Weigelin-Schwiedrzik & Gibbons).

Famine was a major recurring theme in the nineteenth and twentieth century of China (Pong). The diseases that occurred around the date of publication of Knott’s cartoon were ones that were the result of natural disasters, such as the flooding of the Yangzi River in 1931, leading to an outbreak of diseases and the destruction of several fields and homes in China (Pong). As a result, the people of China had to deal with widespread epidemics and destitution from the lack of food and financial instability due to the loss of crops and property. Another cause of famine was population growth in China because population was seen as a “major burden” to “agricultural economy and the natural environment” when population “outstrips the ability of land to produce food” (Pong). The calamitous effects of famine led to fear and agitation in China, allowing Bolsheviks to take advantage of their adversity and plant their “seed” on China’s soil, as depicted in Knott’s cartoon.

Since China’s government has been unstable until 1949 when the People’s Republic of China formed from the Chinese Communist Party, there was a great deal of conflicts between the Nationalist Party and the Communist party beforehand. In fact, a Chinese Civil War erupted between the two parties from 1927 to 1949 and China’s government became “lost” in this era (Miller). The war began after Chiang of the Nationalist Party was “no longer willing to work with Communists because he did not trust the Soviet influence [the Communist Party] heeded”, leading to him severing the “informal alliance” with the Communist Party in 1925 (Miller). As a result, the Communists attempted to overthrow the Nationalist government, yet failed, which in turn led to the Nationalists counterattacking, causing the civil war and several conflicts thereon after (Miller). Since Soviet influence is still pouring into China during this time, more and more Chinese citizens would favor Bolshevism. As mentioned before, the Chinese Soviet Republic was formed in 1931, in the middle of this civil war. Along with leading the Chinese Communist Party, Mao Zedong was the Central Executive Committee of this republic as well; however, he would soon have to abandon this republic as a result of its decline in 1934 (Weigelin-Schwiedrzik). He would continue leading the Communist Party, which would brutally defeat the Nationalist Party while they were cut off their food supply, leading to the Nationalists surrendering to the Communists, ending the war, and the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

As Mao Zedong led the Chinese Communist Party to victory in the civil war and established the People’s Republic of China in 1949, initiating the Chinese Communist Revolution and proving to be true that communist took over China after all (Calkins). Following this establishment, China and Russia signed a “treaty of friendship and alliance” and China would follow the “Soviet development model” for the next decade, developing the Sino-Soviet Alliance in the 1950s (Hyer).  Several Russian advisers were sent to China in order to train Chinese students and some students were also sent to study in the Soviet Union in order to spread Bolshevism (Hyer). However, China eventually grew resentment of “Soviet domination, ideological differences between the two countries, and boundary disputes” which resulted in the Sino-Soviet split in 1960, and a border war in 1969 (Hyer).  The Soviet Union indeed played a large role in spreading communism in China, but Mao Zedong eventually branched off of Bolshevism ideology and incorporated his own view of communism in China with the People’s Republic of China.

The political cartoon On Fertile Soil by John Knott in 1931 acted as a warning to China during its instability and vulnerability to Bolshevik influence. It foreshadowed that communism would come to rise and take over the Nationalist government due to the presence of Soviets in China, spreading their ideology while China was lost in the middle of chaos, famine, and rebellion. Soviet influence was deemed as successful as Mao Zedong sought to learn from the Soviet Union and dispersed communism in China. Even though the Sino-Soviet Alliance experienced a split in the 1960s, Knott was able to foreshadow the course of China and the presence of the Soviet Union in the country in the next 30 years with his political cartoon.

Calkins, Laura M. “Chinese Revolutions.” Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450, edited by Thomas Benjamin, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2007, pp. 221-224. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

“China’s Fifth of May.” Editorial. Dallas Morning News [Dallas, Texas] 5 May 1931, sec. 1: 16. Print.

“Famine Since 1800.” Encyclopedia of Modern China, edited by David Pong, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2009, pp. 14-19. Gale Virtual Reference Library. 

Gibbons, Herbert A. “UNREST IN CHINA AND ITS MEANING FOR OTHER NATIONS.” New York Times (1923-Current file)Jan 31, New York, N.Y., 1932.

Hyer, Eric. “China–Russia Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, edited by Karen Christensen and David Levinson, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 15-21. Gale Virtual Reference Library. 

Knott, John. “On Fertile Soil.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News [Dallas, Texas] 5 May 1931, sec. 1: 16. Print.

Miller, Esmorie. “Chinese Civil War (1927–1949).” Encyclopedia of Prisoners of War and Internment, edited by Jonathan F. Vance, 2nd ed., Grey House Publishing, 2006, pp. 74-77. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Phillips, Steven. “China–United States Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, edited by Karen Christensen and David Levinson, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 23-28. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, Susanne. “CCP-Controlled Areas.” Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, edited by Daniel Leese, Brill, 2009, pp. 92-94. Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section Four: China Vol. 20. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Going Down for the Third Time

Going down third time
A German man is drowning and needs help. A French man is in a boat and says, “Sign, first” while extending a paper labeled “Conditions” to the German man. Presumably the French man will help once the conditions are signed, however, the German will most likely drown in trying to sign the paper.

After World War I, the Big Four (United States, France, Italy, and Great Britain) met in Paris in 1919 to negotiate a peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty charged Germany with a vast amount of war reparations and economic restrictions. Ironically, it is this treaty and French modifications to it that led to the second World War. In John Knott’s political cartoon, “Going Down Third Time,” Knott used drowning as a metaphor to illustrate Germany’s debt, its relationship with France, and how German animosity toward the French could (and did) lead to further conflict.

In the cartoon, the image of Germany drowning is a metaphor that portrayed their asphyxiation by war debt. The title “Going Down Third Time” alludes to the saying, “going down for the third time.” This idiom means that if someone is drowning and they go underwater for a third time, they supposedly won’t come back up (Babylon’s Free Dictionary). Therefore, this saying can be used out of the context of drowning in order to portray failure or death. Knott’s title was an effective representation of Germany’s economic state as they tried to deal with their overwhelming amount of war debt; the debt made it impossible for their economy to resurface and swim. However, this was the main reason France wanted such strict contingencies on Germany. They hoped that Germany would remain bankrupt and “drowning” so that it may not rise back up to power (“WWI: Treaties and Reparations”). Because of the Treaty of Versailles, the Germans had their boundaries reassigned, restrictions placed on their military and weaponry, and they were charged with a reparations bill of 6.6 billion pounds (History.com Staff and “War Reparations”). Ironically, these actions were taken to avoid war, yet they only succeeded in kindling the events in years to come.

Water is a well-fitted symbol for Germany’s war reparations. Not only is it dense and seemingly limitless, but water stays on clothes and skin even after someone gets out. This represents how even if Germany could repay this debt (get out of the water) they would still feel the lasting effects of debt. Their clothes would still be drenched with water, that is to say, the German economy would be further destabilized and in need of reconstruction. It could also be seen that Germany floundering in the water (debt) generated splashes that affected those near, such as the French. France got splashed which wet them with debt as well. War with Germany caused France to be indebted to other countries, such as the United States, after World War I (“War Reparations”).

In the cartoon, the depiction of the French withholding help and saying “sign, first” as Germany drowned illustrated the tensions that were drawn taught between the two countries. Germany’s war ridden land and economy was incapable of fixing itself so Germany needed assistance from other countries. However, they owed other countries mass amounts of money or gold in order to pay off material damages caused by the war (“WWI: Treaties and Reparations”). When they signed the Treaty of Versailles, Germany unhappily acknowledged that they were the sole cause of World War I and agreed to the stringent obligations set by the Big Four (“WWI: Treaties and Reparations”). German bitterness deepened toward the French because they thought France held almost all of the responsibility for charging Germany with an outrageously high reparations bill (“War Reparations”). This was depicted in Knott’s cartoon because Germany drowned under the French conditions, but France required Germany to sign their conditions before they offered help. However, if Germany didn’t sign, it would still drown. Paradoxically, Germany had to hurt itself in order to potentially save itself. Signing acknowledged responsibility for the war, loss of land, loss of military, and insurmountable reparations yet Germany retained hope that the economy and political relations would be repaired. However, things would get worse before they got better. Due to the debt and unnecessary stipulations, the tensions between France and Germany continued to tighten putting Europe on the brink of World War II.

The French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau is more easily recognized than the German man in the cartoon. This is most likely because Clemenceau was known for his austerity in exacting revenge on Germany (“Treaty of Versailles,” sec. 1). The German man was not so easily recognized because Germany had nine different chancellors from 1917-1920 (during which Clemenceau held office in France), not to mention all nine chancellors had bushy mustaches like the man Knott depicted (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). The editorial mentions Chancellor Bruening of Germany, however, Clemenceau died before Bruening held office so it’s unlikely that Bruening is depicted here (“Georges Clemenceau” and Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica).

Without prior knowledge, it can be deduced simply from Knott’s cartoon that this situation wasn’t handled efficiently. Standing by and letting someone drown unless they agree to ridiculous conditions is a fast and sure way to make enemies. The prevention of war simply cannot be executed by repressing a country and limiting its resources. Clemenceau’s strict demands did anything but smooth tensions and ease these countries out of a post war period. The cartoon showed that no matter what Germany did, it drowned in debt and desperately needed a savior. The attempted repression of Germany caused animosities toward the French that only built as Germany struggled to make payments. This is the beginning of how and why Hitler and his National Socialist, or Nazi, Party rose to power (“Treaty of Versailles,” sec. 1.1).

The editorial for “Going Down Third Time” is titled “Hitler to the Rescue!” While praising Adolf Hitler seems facetious in this time period, he had serious leadership potential in the years following World War I. Hitler was seen as an eloquent public speaker and his platform rejected the Versailles treaty, aimed for Germany to return as a military power, and suppressed communism (“Hitler to Rescue!”). Because Germany struggled to stand on its own feet, Hitler’s policies were enticing to many people. He asserted that he was “ready to take charge of the Government and to resist communism by force of arms,” however, the French were ready to invade Germany “to restore order” once revolution broke out (“Hitler to Rescue!”). Germany was on the brink of World War II and all it needed was a nudge before crisis hit. It’s odd to think that World War II could have possibly been avoided had France given Germany a little room to breathe after World War I.

The symbols and portrayal of the issue in the cartoon is humorous in a sense that it is utterly ridiculous. Obviously, someone can’t sign a document if they are drowning. However, as one begins to process this humour, a more somber tone is evoked because of the realization of this fundamental problem. Knott’s cartoon showed that Germany’s post World War I debt was an indomitable obstacle. It not only struck the German economy harder as the world entered the Great Depression, but it created tensions between countries, specifically France, that led to conflict. Furthermore, the cartoon was published in 1931, however, it depicted circumstances that occurred in 1919 and throughout the 1920’s. This emphasizes how issues regarding debt and unfriendly political relations  festered for over a decade and led to the problems they faced as World War II drew nearer.

Works Cited

Alphahistory.com Staff. “War Reparations – Weimar Republic.” Weimar Republic. N.p., 17 July 2012. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

“Definition of Go down for the Third Time.” Go down for the Third Time Definition by Babylon’s Free Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

“Georges Clemenceau.” Georges Clemenceau – New World Encyclopedia. N.p., 28 May 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

“Hitler to the Rescue!” Editorial. The Dallas Morning News 15 July 1931, sec. 2: 2. Readex: A Division of Newsbank. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

History.com Staff. “Treaty of Versailles.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

Knott, John. “Going Down Third Time.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News 15 July 1931, sec. 2: 2. Readex: A Division of Newsbank. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “List of Chancellors of Germany.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 31 May 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

“Treaty of Versailles.” Treaty of Versailles – New World Encyclopedia. N.p., 16 Dec. 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

“World War I: Treaties and Reparations.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 02 July 2016. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.

Germany’s Christmas Tree

A very meager and sad looking Christmas tree sits behind a broken window. The ornaments are chain links, solders fighting depciting communism and fascicm, and presents with the words reparations, debt and unemployment written on the outside. A candle of "hope" sits at the top of the Christmas tree.
A very meager and sad looking Christmas tree sits behind a broken window. The ornaments are chain links, solders fighting depicting communism and fascism, and presents with the words reparations, debt and unemployment written on the outside. A candle labeled “hope” sits at the top of the Christmas tree.

Description: This political cartoon from the early 1930s, depicts a Christmas tree with ornaments of war, but with one small glimmer of hope – that of a candle topping the tree. It is referring to the hope that France and Germany will work out their differences regarding reparations in the post WWI landscape.

This cartoon is humorous because of it’s contrasts between the usually happy celebrations of Christmas time with the sad, meager tree and the angry, combative “ornaments that are hung on the lowest branches – perhaps implying the lowest hanging fruit and thus  the most likely to occur.

Citations:

John F. Knott Cartoon Scrapbook, [ca. 1930-1942], 1952, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Reparations.” Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. Ed. John Merriman and Jay Winter. Vol. 4. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006. 2205-2209. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.

All Over the Plan!

Stalin is angered because global depression ruined his Five Year Plan for the rapid industrialization of Russia.

John Francis Knott
December 13, 1931
All Over the Plan!

The article, ‘Soviet Russia’, accompanied Knott’s cartoon and painted a grim picture for the future of Russia. With the Great Depression hitting the world, Western capitalist countries weren’t importing as much raw materials as they were before. Russia’s agrarian economy relied on the exportation of wheat, timber, and oil (Jones 1). With that revenue source diminished considerably, Russia did not have the money to import industrial machinery. Also, they could not afford to pay experts to set up factories and give instruction on manufacturing processes. The article went on to say that this wasn’t solely Russia’s problem. If Russia fell into an even deeper economic pit it would drag down all of Europe (Author 6). The writer of the article along with Knott did not have an optimistic opinion on what would become of Russia. Russia’s economic depression is the subject of Knott’s cartoon.

‘All Over the Plan!’ is a cartoon by John Knott that was published on December 13, 1931 that illustrated his grim forecast in dictator Joseph Stalin’s first Five Year Plan (1928-1932) which aimed to transform the mainly agrarian economy into an industrial powerhouse. The cartoon depicts Stalin drafting his Five Year Plan and it being ruined by an ink blob labeled ‘world depression’. Stalin’s efforts to industrialize his country were temporarily stymied by the world depression that stemmed from the stock market crash in the U.S. in 1929. Encompassing both industrial and agricultural production, the Five Year Plan is a common feature of Communist nations’ centrally controlled economies, in which state run committees decide what products should be produced and in what quantity. In stark contrast, free market systems allow businesses and market forces to dictate production.

The Five Year Plan was Stalin’s initiative to catapult Russia to a more centralized position in the world since it had been historically agrarian and poor. Wanting to avoid the failures of the contemporary capitalist economies, Stalin took control and set up a planned economy with output numbers for every factory operating in the system as well as output goals for the state farms.

Collectivization is the second half of Stalin’s Five Year Plan, which calls for the state control of agricultural production. To achieve this end he had to take control of the peasant farmers in the major grain producing regions and convince them to stop selling their crops for profit (Collectivization 637-640). Stalin needed to strip these peasants of what little they had and make them work for him; it did not go well. The peasants slaughtered livestock and destroyed harvests and crop stores when Stalin sent collectors to take the goods to the cities to feed the quickly growing industrial urban workforce (Collectivization 637-640). Stalin’s first effort at collectivization was such a disaster that he blamed the collectors and made collectivization voluntary. Stalin hoped that the middle peasantry would flock into the state farms as they were the most successful in implementing traditional farming techniques to new areas, but only the poorest peasants were voluntarily moving into the state farms (Atkins 325-329). They had nowhere else to turn to and the farms provided food. The second goal of collectivization was to eliminate the large land holding peasants; the kulaks. They were barred entry into the state farms and were killed or shipped to slave camps in Siberia and Central Asia (The Great Depression in Soviet Union 446-447). They had held a surprisingly large amount of power relative to their small numbers in the rural areas. These people had the most land that Stalin wanted for his state farms, so he killed them and took it.

Collectivization’s benefits did not come to Russia until the late 1930’s. The effects of trying to collectivize forcefully were felt in Ukraine when a famine hit the region from 1932-1933 (Atkins 325-329). Millions died because of Stalin’s initial failure at collectivization. Even with this gross tragedy, Russia’s industrialization was ticking along successfully. The first Five Year Plan (1928-1932) was completed in four years and three months. One thousand and five hundred factories were built in this time span which doubled the industrial capacity of Russia (Atkins 325-329).

The humor in Knott’s cartoon comes from Stalin’s expression of surprise as well as the play on words with ‘planned economy’ and depicting Stalin as a drafter. Stalin’s expression is one of anger and surprise. It is trivializing the consequences that Russia endured due to Stalin and his Five Year Plans. It shows Stalin drawing on a piece of paper that is labeled “Five Year Plan” and signed “Jos Stalin, Arch.” (Knott 6). A planned economy requires state ownership of all means of production. The products and how much of the products produced are determined by the state as well as the price for the goods. So showing Stalin as a drafter is taking the planned economy aspect of communism quite literally, thus creating humor.

‘All Over the Plan!’, depicted a dire picture for the future of Russia. Knott did not think that the Soviet Union would be able to pull through and achieve industrialization because of the “world depression”. The article, ‘Soviet Russia’ forecasted a similar fate for Russia as Knott. The article called for other European countries to send relief because a “140,000,000” starving Russian peasants wouldn’t better the situation for Europe (Author 6). As it turns out Soviet Russia did not take as big of a blow as it was thought, due to the general declining economic affairs of the capitalist west. Industrialization continued rising, but the peasant farmers of Russia did pay the price for this advancement. Stalin killed and enslaved the kulaks and forced all the other peasants into state farms. The Soviet Union would soon become an industrial powerhouse in WWII, only being outpaced by the Americans. Although, this achievement came at the cost of millions of innocent Russian lives.

Works Cited:

Atkins, William Arthur. “Forced Labor: USSR.” St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide. Ed. Neil Schlager. Vol. 1. Detroit: St. James Press, 2004. 325-329. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Author Not Listed. “Soviet Russia.” Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 13 Dec. 1931, sec. 3: 6. American Historical Newspapers. Web. 5 Nov. 2015. .

“Collectivization.” Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. Ed. John Merriman and Jay Winter. Vol. 2. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006. 637-640. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Jones, Gareth. “Majority for Russian Imports Bill: Dwindling Soviet Trade.” Western Mail [Cardiff] 6 Apr. 1933: n. pag. Print.

Knott, John Francis. “All Over the Plan!” Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 13 Dec. 1931, sec. 3: 6. American Historical Newspapers. Web. 5 Nov. 2015. .

“The Great Depression in the Soviet Union.” World History Encyclopedia. Ed. Alfred J. Andrea and Carolyn Neel. Vol. 18: Era 8: Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011. 446-447. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Germany’s Christmas Tree

A desolate Christmas tree without pine needles garnished with the burdens of Germany and strung together with thick chains.  Ornaments labeled with terms such unemployment, reparations, hunger, debts, communism, fascism, and revolution threat. Instead of a star, the top of the tree is decorated with small lit candle labeled hope.
Germany’s Christmas Tree

 

Germany’s Christmas Tree

John Francis Knott- December 23, 1931

This political cartoon, published on December 23, 1931, depicts the economic crisis Germany faced due to reparations after World War 1. The Treaty of Versailles, negotiated among the Allied Powers and Germany, stated that Germany would agree to pay reparations under the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan. Germany’s paramount issue involved foreign debts with the United States. During the 1920’s, Germany’s government borrowed excessive amounts of money abroad in order to fulfill reparations payments to France and Great Britain. In the summer of 1931, various German banks began to close while the percentage of bankruptcy and unemployment continued to increase at an alarming rate. Germany’s economic struggle ultimately became a catalyst for voters to consider political parties such as fascism and communism. The rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party reached its peak during this particular era. Hitler promised to end reparations, eliminate unemployment, overturn the Treaty of Versailles, eradicate debts, and lay the foundation for a strong national government thus recovering Germany’s sense of authority and pride.

The article associated with this cartoon titled “Center of Interest” capitalizes Germany’s strategy to rebuild its infrastructure and reputation. Hitler is confident that his Fascist party will be in power in Germany and Premier Laval loudly proclaims that France will never permit reparations to be sacrificed to private debts or permit the tampering of the Young Plan (“Center of Interest”). The economic interests of the French and United states would be jeopardized if Germany were to disclaim reparations and decide to pay short term credits instead. Ultimately, refusing to pay reparations could potentially lead to another war. President Paul von Hindenburg would no longer be a candidate for re-election in the spring due to his old age which leaves Germany with an unanswered question of who would obtain power. Hitler’s political claims for the economic stability of Germany are beginning to appear much more attractive to voters. Author John Hartwell Moore suggests that many in the international community such as British general Henry Wilson and economist John Maynard Keynes believe that reparations authorized under the Treaty of Versailles were unreasonably disciplinary, stripping Germany of its dignity which ultimately created geopolitical circumstances that aided Hitler’s rise to power in Germany (“Reparations for Racial Atrocities).

The humor conveyed in this political cartoon derives from an ironic representation of how a Christmas tree should be decorated. Instead of a beautiful arrangement of ornaments and bright lights wrapped around a healthy pine tree, the Christmas tree portrayed in the political cartoon illustrates a desolate tree without pine needles garnished with the burdens of Germany and strung together with thick chains. Ornaments on a common Christmas tree consist of ornaments and decorations that represent the Christian religion. Christmas is usually perceived as a holiday involving an abundance of gifts yet there are no gifts under Germany’s Christmas tree. Christmas lights which signify hope, happiness, and safety is substituted with thick chains representing bondage and enslavement. Germany’s Christmas tree vividly epitomizes Germany’s economic well-being at that time.  A small candle lit on the top of the tree labeled “hope” exemplifies Hitler’s proposal for safety, strength, and renewal for Germany utilizing fascism as a catalyst.

Works Cited:

John F. Knott Cartoon Scrapbook, [ca. 1930-1942], 1952, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Author Not Listed. “Center of Interest.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 23 Dec. 1931: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “Germany’s Christmas Tree.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 23 Dec. 1931: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/02261/cah-02261.html>.

“Reparations for Racial Atrocities.” Encyclopedia of Race and Racism. Ed. John Hartwell Moore. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 490-493. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

 

His Final Refuge

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His Final Refuge

John Francis Knott- February 7, 1932

His Final Refuge by John Knott is a political cartoon that criticizes the events leading up to the Second Sino-Japanese War.  His Final Refuge is told from the American viewpoint and how the United States viewed the countries in East Asia.  As Japan and Russia industrialized and became world players over the course of the 20th Century, the United States viewed each country as a potential threat to its own power.  Due to increasing politico-economic tensions the United States would back certain countries at different times in accordance with its own foreign policy agenda.  In this context we can begin to see how different wars between the East Asian countries affected the United States’ alliances.  Once Japan began to rise to prominent power and began to attack Russia for resources, the United States supported Russia.  Later on in World War I the United States and Japan ended up on the same side while still not on good terms, which further increased tensions.  With the rise of communism the United States stopped supporting Russia and sent in troops to help clear the country of its communist revolution.  The complex political-economic relationships between all of these countries provide the backdrop for His Final Refuge by John Knott.

Nationalism amongst nations in the 19th century grew which in turn cause many countries to become colonial nations to expand their borders.  With many new nations becoming colonial nations, the new colonial nations began to challenge the already powerful Western European countries like Germany and France.  The first Sino-Japanese War in 1894 dealt with China and Japan fighting over Korea.  China ended up losing due to being poorly equipped.  Due to the Japanese victory Japan began to rise to power and split China up into a weak country that consisted of spheres of influence, which are territories that accommodate an outside nation culturally, economically, militarily or politically.  Japan then continued their expansion into the Asian mainland in order to grow their empire.  Japan also fought with Russia over the possession of Manchuria and Korea in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.  Japan won the Russo-Japanese War and Russia gave up Port Arthur and the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan and recognized Korea as a Japanese sphere of influence.  In 1914 World War I had begun and Japan had joined the Allies in order to gain Germany’s pacific territories.  During this time Japan began to politically dominate China and the Pacific.  The United States began to dislike Japan due to competition over territories in the Pacific and tensions further increased when both nations were on the same side in World War I despite competition with each other.  In 1917 during the Russian Revolution once Tsar Nicholas II was removed from power the United States praised the revolution but once the Bolsheviks regained power president Wilson sent troops to stop the revolution even though Russia was technically an ally.  This shows us that the United States is also vying to keep other nations in control and keep its place as the most powerful industrial nation.

In the February 7th, 1932 edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper, It is reported that Japan laid down its heaviest bombardment in Shanghai on January 28th, which shows how much tensions are escalating in East Asia.  Another article in the February 7th, 1932 edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper reports that Russia is expecting another world war and has began to train troops to prepare.  It is also reported in the same edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper that Russia might join with China in order to stop Japan from encroaching on its territory, although the two countries have treaties.  These events reported by the newspaper show us that tensions between these nations were building at a rapid pace.

His Final Refuge by John Knott depicts Russia as a communist nation living in a wooden shack watching China getting hit by a Japanese soldier with a large rifle.  In John Dower’s book, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific, Dower explains that in many other cartoons of in that period Japan is depicted as ape like.  Many Americans believed that the Japanese were inferior and possessed less intelligence than them, which created this common trope among American political cartoons at the after World War I.  The Russian is depicted as looking silently among the horrendous act of the Japanese moving the Chinese into submission.  His Final Refuge refers to China being put in its final resting place through complete political and economic domination.  At the time of 1932 it looked like Japan would dominate China but during The Second Sino Japanese War in 1937, The United States began to aid China and in 1945 the Japanese troops surrendered.

This cartoon provides a grim depiction of what the United States believed was going on with Japan.  Japan was increasingly militarizing and expanding itself as a nation after the first Sino-Japanese war and the United States believed it was going to finally dominate Japan during the period in between the First and Second Sino-Japanese Wars.  This period before World War II in East Asia marks an era of increasing tensions due to colonialism, which in turn creates shifting alliances between China, Japan, Russia and the United States.  These increasing tensions will finally erupt later on proving to be fatal for the world as the Second Sino-Japanese War occurs in 1937 and World War II begins in 1939 with The United States and Russia siding with the Allies and Japan siding with the Axis.

Works Cited:

Andrea, Alfred J., and Carolyn Neel. “Sino-Japanese War, 1894–1895.” World History Encyclopedia. Vol. 16. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011. 837. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Author Not Listed. “Heaviest Bombardment Yet Laid Down by Japanese Guns.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Christensen, Karen, and David Levinson. “China–Japan Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Vol. 2. New York City: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002. 6-12. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Dower, John W. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon, 1986. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Eberspaecher, Cord. “Russo-Japanese War.” Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. Ed. Thomas Benjamin. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 988-990. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

Elias Tobenkin. “World War Expected By Soviet And Men, Women and Children are Being Given Rigid Training.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “His Final Refuge.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.