Writer, researcher, translator, critic

Exist Yesterday.

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1929: Karl Holtz

 

This week I'm thinking about the design-heavy work of socialist German cartoonist Karl Holtz.

His first cartoons were published in 1916, and his last cartoons were published in 1949, but I'm most interested in the Weimar era of 1919-1933, when his primary outlets were the left-wing satirical magazines Lachen Links and Der Wahre Jacob. Even at that, I've collected over 700 separate cartoons from both magazines, so the following can only be a small selection from an immense body of work: twelve full-page color cartoons from Der Wahre Jacob, 1927-1929.

I'm translating the titles and captions for once (and linking out to provide context), not because they're particularly funny at this historical remove or because they do anything to enhance the beauty and joy of Holtz's image-making, which stands quite well on its own, but merely as a gesture of political solidarity. After the Nazis came to power, leftists like Holtz were not permitted to engage in satirical cartooning and he had to move into commercial illustration; after World War II, he returned to cartooning in East Berlin as a committed socialist, but after caricaturing Stalin in 1949 he was sent to prison, after which he was again banned from satirical cartooning, so that his only creative outlet until his death in 1978 was the (excellent) social-realist paintings of street scenes which come up when you Google his name.

 
Der Wahre Jacob , November 11 1927.    National Education Act   "There's no help for it, my Son — I must send you to a German elementary school! If people find out that you never attended a school of any denomination, we'll never hear the end of it from the centrists!"

Der Wahre Jacob, November 11 1927.

National Education Act
"There's no help for it, my Son — I must send you to a German elementary school! If people find out that you never attended a school of any denomination, we'll never hear the end of it from the centrists!"

Der Wahre Jacob , March 17th 1928.   Technology  "This machine makes ten thousand workers superfluous!" "Can't you invent a machine, Mr. Engineer, that makes ten — only ten! — managers superfluous?"

Der Wahre Jacob, March 17th 1928.

Technology
"This machine makes ten thousand workers superfluous!"
"Can't you invent a machine, Mr. Engineer, that makes ten — only ten! — managers superfluous?"

Der Wahre Jacob , June 23 1928.    German Federalism   There are many German states for a good reason: It's impossible for one government alone to handle all that bureaucracy!

Der Wahre Jacob, June 23 1928.

German Federalism
There are many German states for a good reason: It's impossible for one government alone to handle all that bureaucracy!

Der Wahre Jacob , August 18 1928   A Love Letter  "I will always love you. Enclosed is a lock of my hair as proof...!"

Der Wahre Jacob, August 18 1928

A Love Letter
"I will always love you. Enclosed is a lock of my hair as proof...!"

Der Wahre Jacob , January 19 1929.   A Bishopric in    Cammin   ?  Whatever happens: the Pomeranian peasants have managed without a Bishop so far, they will also be able to manage with a Bishop!

Der Wahre Jacob, January 19 1929.

A Bishopric in Cammin?
Whatever happens: the Pomeranian peasants have managed without a Bishop so far, they will also be able to manage with a Bishop!

Der Wahre Jacob , February 2 1929.   The Non-Participants  " Carnival ? Not for us! That's only a matter for average, sexually normal people!"

Der Wahre Jacob, February 2 1929.

The Non-Participants
"Carnival? Not for us! That's only a matter for average, sexually normal people!"

Der Wahre Jacob , March 30 1929.   Civics Lesson  " Property has obligations  in the German Constitution. Which means: If you have money, you should spend it!"

Der Wahre Jacob, March 30 1929.

Civics Lesson
"Property has obligations in the German Constitution. Which means: If you have money, you should spend it!"

Der Wahre Jacob , March 30 1929.   The Right Answer  "Do not despair, even at your lowest! The thought of eternal life must sustain you!" "Well, you know, it's not so comforting to be one of those who won't live forever!"

Der Wahre Jacob, March 30 1929.

The Right Answer
"Do not despair, even at your lowest! The thought of eternal life must sustain you!"
"Well, you know, it's not so comforting to be one of those who won't live forever!"

Der Wahre Jacob , April 27 1929.   The Safest Route  "We have here an international treaty that we want to make sure everybody knows about!" "Let's mark it as 'Top Secret,' your Excellency!"

Der Wahre Jacob, April 27 1929.

The Safest Route
"We have here an international treaty that we want to make sure everybody knows about!"
"Let's mark it as 'Top Secret,' your Excellency!"

Der Wahre Jacob , June 8th 1929.   All Gone!  "In Bavaria you can climb! Eight hundred fitty Marks ripened to maturity, and now I'm here an' forgot my  Baedeker !"

Der Wahre Jacob, June 8th 1929.

All Gone!
"In Bavaria you can climb! Eight hundred fitty Marks ripened to maturity, and now I'm here an' forgot my Baedeker!"

Der Wahre Jacob , June 22 1929.   Gloomy Hours  "Know what I think, my dear Count? This  Hugenberg  fellow must be an agent of the Social Democrats!"

Der Wahre Jacob, June 22 1929.

Gloomy Hours
"Know what I think, my dear Count? This Hugenberg fellow must be an agent of the Social Democrats!"

Der Wahre Jacob , November 23 1929.   The Sklarek Scandal  "And there you have it! Unbusinesslike to the extreme, the whole scandal! With us in private industry, none of it would ever have come to light!"

Der Wahre Jacob, November 23 1929.

The Sklarek Scandal
"And there you have it! Unbusinesslike to the extreme, the whole scandal! With us in private industry, none of it would ever have come to light!"