Tag Archives: fascism

Suggestion for Historical Mural

Suggestion for historical mural

Going against the wishes of the League of Nations, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and his italian army invaded Ethiopia in an effort to gain an advantage in the imperialistic race Europe found itself in at the time. This increased tension between Italy and other members of the League of Nations, particularly England and France.

In the Knott cartoon, a man is dressed in Ancient Roman robes and a laurel wreath. He is labeled as Mussolini and Caesar. Mussolini rides a horse drawn chariot through the street under an arch labeled “Roma”, surrounded by an enormous crowd and people leaning out of windows waving flags. The design of the town is evocative of ancient Rome. Being marched behind him, attached to the chariot by the neck with a rope, is a bedraggled black man wearing nothing but a large barrel, labeled Ethiopia.

This cartoon references the Italo-Ethiopian war, an armed conflict which was one of the leading causes to world war II and ended in the subjugation of Ethiopia by the Italian forces.One of the reasons for this conflict was imperialism. Before World War I, European countries were racing to colonize Africa — this competition was a major inciting factor for the war. One of the reasons for the creation of the league of nations after the war was to settle disputes between nations and avoid further war. They pushed for the disarmament and demilitarization of nations involved in the first war in an effort to seek and maintain peace. However, during this time Benito Mussolini and his movement of fascism rose to power in Italy. He became Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and focused on the expansion of the Italian military forces. By the late 1930s, he had used his military to invade Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Albania, making Italy a force to be reckoned with in the Mediterranean area.

The Italo-Ethiopian war was a significant one of Mussolini’s conquests. Ethiopia was one of the few independent countries in the European colonized continent; Italy had tried and failed to acquire it as a colony in the late 19th century. A small border conflict between Ethiopia and the Italian controlled Somalia gave Mussolini the justification for invading Ethiopia. The rationale was that Ethiopia was to be held accountable for the conflict, but the real motive was to gain the resources and boost Italian prestige.

This was exactly what the league of nations wanted to avoid. It denounced Italy’s invasion and tried to impose economic sanctions on Italy, but it was ultimately ineffective due to lack of support. The conquest of Ethiopia angered the british, who had colonized East Africa and worried about maintaining their control, but other major powers had no real reason to interfere with Italy. Supporting the rise of fascism within Europe, this war contributed to the tensions between fascist regimes and western democracies.

Equally important to understanding this political cartoon is the reference to Julius Caesar. The ancient politician and eventual dictator of Rome bears similarities to Mussolini: both were ruthless Italian dictators bent on expanding Italy’s control through military force and who were eventually killed by those who opposed them. Although in the present day we know of Mussolini as a dictator, at the time the cartoon and editorial were published that was up for debate, as he was still accumulating power. By likening him to Caesar, someone historically known as a tyrant, Knott made a strong political statement about the ethics of Mussolini’s conquests. This is further emphasized by the title of the cartoon, “Suggestion for Historical Mural”. Murals are a large, public, accessible artform. Since they reach such a wide audience, they have the capability to sway public perception. By suggesting that this unflattering depiction of Mussolini be a historical mural, Knott is making a statement about the way he wants history to remember Mussolini.

The cartoon shows Mussolini on top of a chariot, crowned with a laurel wreath, while the Ethiopian man is dragged below by the neck, wearing only a bucket. Mussolini’s stature is one of power: he is in possession of technology that allows him to be swifter and stronger, he stands above the other man, and he wears a crown that is symbolic of victory. Meanwhile, the barrel the Ethiopian man wears signifies destitution, and the rope around his neck helplessness. Mussolini and his army reign over Ethiopia with formidable strength, and this is reflected in the positions the people in the cartoon find themselves in.

The editorial accompanying this cartoon is titled “A Hot Time in the Old Town”. This title is drawn from a popular song from the time period of the same name, “A Hot Time in the Old Town” (also referred to sometimes as “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” after a memorable refrain in the chorus) composed by Theodore A. Metz in 1896. This march was popular in the military, associated with the Spanish American war and Theodore Roosevelt’s rough riders. Although the song was created before the 20th century, a popular rendition of it was recorded in 1927 by Bessie Smith, a notable singer of the era. This would have made the song a relevant reference in the 1930s, when the editorial was written. In regards to the article, the “hot time” would be the conflict between Italy and Ethiopia, and the “old town” would be a reference to Rome, a city in Italy with an ancient history of conquest, and fits in with the parallels the cartoon draws between Ancient Rome and Italy during the 1930s. The fact that this song was popularized with the military emphasizes the militaristic nature of the conflict in Ethiopia, drawing attention to the fact that Italian armed forces were sent in to occupy Ethiopia.

By equating Mussolini with the tyrant Caesar and showing him subjugating the Ethiopian man, Knott draws attention to the situation between Italy and Ethiopia, as well as making it clear he believes Mussolini is a dictator wrongfully conquering Ethiopia.

Works Cited

“Italo-Ethiopian War.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

“Italy’s Invasion of Ethiopia.” Italy’s Invasion of Ethiopia | History Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

History.com Staff. “Julius Caesar.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

History.com Staff. “Benito Mussolini.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

“WW2: Italy Invades Ethiopia.” Anonymous. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

“WW2: Italy Invades Ethiopia.” Anonymous. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Kalinak, Kathryn Marie. How the West Was Sung: Music in the Westerns of John Ford. Berkeley: U of California, 2007. Print.

Knott, John. “Suggestion for Historical Mural” Dallas Morning News 18 Apr. 1936. Print.

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.

Kibitzer’s Advice

John Bull and Mussolini playing cards over a map of Europe with Lloyd George speaking to John Bull and telling him that Mussolini is bluffing.
John Bull and Mussolini playing cards over a map of Europe with Lloyd George speaking to John Bull and telling him that Mussolini is bluffing.

 

Kibitzer’s Advice – John Francis Knott – March 27, 1937

This cartoon refers to David Lloyd George’s call for Britain to take action against Italian aggression that was happening during the time.  The Italian and German fascist states had just begun their involvement in events that were building up to World War II, such as making and using forces to invade nations and interfering with foreign affairs.  Other countries were worried about what these involvements might turn in to if the situation was left unchecked, and Lloyd George wanted Britain to interfere with the fascist forces for this same reason, so he demanded the country to take action.  However, the cartoon is entitled Kibitzer’s Advice, and a kibitzer is a person whose advice is unwanted, so this suggests that Lloyd George’s call was largely ignored.  The reason Britain did not listen to Lloyd George’s advice was that Britain did not have much in the way of intervening due to the fact that they had been playing the pacifist role since the First World War.  This made it so that their arms were heavily depleted and taking any form of action appeared unappealing to the country.

The cartoon depicts Mussolini and John Bull playing a card game over the map of Europe, and David Lloyd George is telling John Bull that Mussolini is bluffing.  David Lloyd George was the Prime Minister of Britain during World War I and was instrumental in helping build up British arms for that war and Mussolini was the dictator of Italy and the face of fascism at the time.  John Bull is a comic personification of Britain, similar to how Uncle Sam personifies America so Lloyd George is depicted as talking to Britain and not just an individual.  John Bull and Mussolini playing cards refers to the saying that politics is a game and them playing over a table with a map of Europe means that their actions are going to be for the sake of changing or maintaining territorial boundaries of  Europe.  The “Bluffing” in this case refers to the belief that the fascist did not have the amount of force and arms that they claimed to have, so Britain had the opportunity to act against Mussolini.  Mussolini is depicted as the face of fascism in the comic instead of Hitler, because the Italian dictator had devoted much more forces in conflicts at the time while Hitler used less of his forces and was rather preparing his army for future aggression.

The accompanying editorial “Lion’s Tail” states two different Italian involvements at the time, aggression in Ethiopia and breaking the non-intervention agreement.  Mussolini used Italian nationalism and stated that he wanted to build Italy into an empire like it was in ancient Roman times to gather support from the people, so his aggression in Ethiopia was to help and acquire a foothold in Africa and prove that he was committed to the sake of Italy.  However, the situation scarred Mussolini’s image and brought to the attention of Europe that peace was fleeting for the time being.  The non-intervention agreement was created for the sake of the Spanish Civil War, so other nations would not interfere with the war; however, the agreement was known to eventually be a political farce.  This agreement was broken by many nations, especially the fascist nations who wanted the rebels to win so that a pro-fascist state would be set up in Spain and France would be between two fascist areas.

Some countries and citizens believed that the Italian and German forces needed to be halted, and David Lloyd George called for Britain to believe this as well and take action against the fascist.  However his cries to Britain for involvement in these issues were not heeded, the main reason being that Britain did not want another war on their hands, since the effects of World War I were devastating for many people. The article “Lion’s Tail” states that if Britain and France did interfere with the fascist in these conflicts and they were in fact not bluffing, there would be full scale war on their hands, but if Mussolini were to withdraw from Spain, then that would only reveal that he was bluffing and did not have the forces that he claimed to have.  Britain had been playing a pacifist role since the First World War, and the article says they were speaking softly since they did not carry a big stick and instead were in the middle of rearmament themselves.  This means that Britain was the one that needed to bluff since their forces were depleted not Italy who proved they had forces in the Ethiopian and the Spanish Civil War conflicts.  Britain was also one of the few nations to not break the nonintervention agreement.  All these factors, with the addition that Lloyd George was mostly not listened to by the people after he left office of Prime minister, makes it so that his message of Britain interfering against the fascist was largely ineffective to the mainly peace-loving population.  The “Lion’s Tail” article also states that even if Lloyd George played a large part in British decision making, they would still have the condition of not having the proper amount of forces.  This means that the author believed that the primary reason that Lloyd George would speak so much of fighting is because he was part of the opposition of Mussolini and not a policy maker.

The aggression that Italian and German forces showed during the time would escalate later and lead to the need of other nations to interfere.  Eventually Italy and Germany would team up with Japan in the East to create the axis powers against the Allies and would plunge the world into the Second World War.

 

 

Works Cited

Author not listed. “Lion’s Tail.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 27 Mar. 1937: n.pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

“Baldwin, Stanley (1867–1947).” Encyclopedia of World War II. Alan Axelrod. Ed. Jack A. Kingston. Vol. 1. New York: Facts on File, 2007. 146-147. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“Italy.” Encyclopedia of World War II. Alan Axelrod. Ed. Jack A. Kingston. Vol. 1. New York: Facts on File, 2007. 461-462. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“Lloyd George, David (1863–1945).” Encyclopedia of European Social History. Ed. Peter N. Stearns. Vol. 6: Biographies/Contributors. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001. 195-197. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “Kibitzer’s Advice.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 27 Mar. 1937: n.pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

“Mussolini, Benito (1883–1945).” Encyclopedia of the Modern World1900 to the Present. Ed. William R. Keylor. New York: Facts on File, 2009. 888-889. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“Spanish Civil War.” 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. 2416-2424. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

How About a Little Reciprocity Neighbor?

The above image illustrates President Calles sending former President Calles into exile in the United States.
The above image illustrates President Calles sending former President Calles into exile in the United States.

“How About a Little Reciprocity Neighbor?”

John Francis Knott –  April 1936

In the political cartoon “Tragic Journey,” artist John Francis Knott conveys a humorous message to represent the political differences between Mexico and the United States at the time.

President of Mexico from 1934-1940, Lazaro Cardenas was characterized as a loved and heroic man. Cardenas was one of the first presidents to enact several reforms that truly followed the precedents established by the Constitution. He nationalized the oil industry in Mexico and initiated the spread of education, even cutting his own salary. These actions garnered the support of a majority of Mexican citizens.

In the cartoon, Cardenas is seen disposing of Plutarco Calles. Calles was established as president of Mexico from 1924-1928.However, during the years after his presidency he maintained his role as leader through puppet presidents. Throughout his presidency, Calles enacted reform on areas such as labor and social security strengthening the country as a whole. Despite Calles’s good deeds, his anti-Catholic sentiments triggered turmoil within the country. Due to Calles’s greed for power, Cárdenas had Calles exiled from Mexico. In a move cheered by most of the Mexican population, Calles was arrested on the night of April 9, 1936 and exiled to San Antonio, Texas. Cárdenas had proven that he had the will to do what needed to be done and the humanitarianism to spare the former president’s life. These attributes showcased Cardenas as strong political leader and genuine person

The cartoon depicts a grinning man with a large sombrero is depicted tossing several men titled “Calles et al” across a wall. “Et al” is a Spanish translation for “and others.” Thus it can be inferred from the cartoon that President Calles and his accomplices were being tossed across the wall. The sombrero is labeled with the name “Cardenas” offering us insight into the fact that the man is Cardenas Lazaro – the President of Mexico at the time. The cartoon shows a second man dressed in a polished suit and top hat, symbolic of Uncle Sam and the United States of America. Uncle Sam carries several men titled “fascist agitators” in the image. The wall in between the two men represents a wall between the two countries, Mexico and the United States. This wall is symbolic of the border that divides the two countries.

The accompanying article, “Tragic Journey” compares the constitutional practices held by the United States and Mexico. The author states that both countries have imposed a Republic, a form of government that’s role is to enforce a “Constitution, courts, and a guarantee of individual rights.” However, the author criticizes Mexico for its inability to implement its established form of government. He states that in the United States, the people would never be able to “send to death a single man” nor “order an American to leave the land of his nativity.” Despite Mexico’s role as a Republic, it does not follow the system clearly outlined by its Constitution. The author goes on to point out that despite the tedious process of courts and checks and balances in the United States, these processes are established for crucial reasons. These reasons include giving all citizens their respective individual rights they were guaranteed in the Constitution.

Knott exaggerates the exile of former President Calles by showcasing a rather large Cardenas tossing Calles aside, adding to the humor within the cartoon.  The artist mocks Calles by illustrating Calles as extremely small in size compared to Uncle Sam and Cardenas. In addition, humor in this piece arises in the title of the cartoon “How about a little reciprocity neighbor”. In the cartoon, President Cardenas is disposing of former President Calles across the border into the United States. However, Uncle Sam attempts to toss “fascist agitators” across the border to Mexico as well. The cartoon implies that if Cardenas is able to send his problems to exile in another country, the United States should be able to do so as well.

Overall, this cartoon sends a strong message in addition to its humor about the reciprocity of political actions between the United States and Mexico. Knott subtlety intertwines comedy and the political severity into a simplistic yet profound cartoon.

Works Cited

“Lázaro Cárdenas.” Historical Dictionary of Mexico. Marvin Alisky. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007. 299. Historical Dictionaries of Latin America 29. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

Hart, John Mason. “Revolution—Mexico.” Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History. Ed. William H. McNeill, Jerry H. Bentley, and David Christian. Vol. 4. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing, 2005. 1611-1614. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

“Cárdenas, Lázaro (b. 1895–d. 1970).” Encyclopedia of Latin America. Ed. Thomas M. Leonard. Vol. 4: The Age of Globalization (1900 to the Present). New York: Facts on File, 2010. 53-54. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

“Tragic Journey.” Dallas Morning News 13 Apr. 1936: Section II Page 2. Print.

“How About a Little Reciprocity Neighbor.” Dallas Morning News 13 Apr. 1936: Section II Page 2. Print.

 

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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.