‘FRITZ or Perseverance’. On 13 September 1946, one year after the end of the Second World War, faced with the threat of seeing defeated Germany regain its industrial might, French cartoonist Soro looks back at the history of Germany since the end of the First World War in 1918. Concerned that events might repeat themselves, Soro calls on the Western democracies, particularly France, to remain vigilant with regard to the dangers of a renewed German military–industrial complex.
‘Pin-up. Miss Europe 47’. On 23 July 1947, French cartoonist Jean Effel illustrates the dissatisfaction of France (Marianne) and the United Kingdom (Britannia) at the return to favour of Germany (Germania), who is crowned Miss Europe 47 by US President Harry Truman. One month earlier, in a speech made on 5 June 1947 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed economic and financial assistance to all the countries of Europe, subject to closer European cooperation. The Marshall Plan or European Recovery Program (ERP) was part of the US policy pursued by US President Truman to ‘contain’ the spread of communism in Europe. Given the prevailing East–West tensions, the economic reconstruction of Germany was a priority issue for Washington.
‘Priority!’ On 26 July 1947, in connection with the implementation of the Marshall Plan, French cartoonist Claude Garnier illustrates France’s fears regarding an overly rapid economic reconstruction of post-war Germany. Queuing up to get on the ‘prosperity, revival and abundance’ bus, decorated with the stars of the US flag, France, represented as a young Marianne wearing a Phrygian cap, emphasises to the bus conductor that the countries that suffered German aggression during the Second World War should be given priority for the granting of Marshall Plan aid. On the other side of the bus, ‘Gretchen’, symbolising Germany — a young girl with braids, a Bavarian hat with a feather and military boots — shouldn’t expect preferential treatment and must wait her turn for US aid.
‘Germania. As soon as we’ve finished we’ll deal with the recovery of France.’ On 23 September 1947, two years after the end of the Second World War, French cartoonist Pol Ferjac paints an ironic picture of how the Western Allies and some French politicians are focusing on the recovery of defeated Germany. Ferjac points out the dangers of this recovery, which seems to be taking place before the recovery of France, represented by a broken ‘Marianne’ statue lying on the ground. From left to right, Paul Ramadier, President of the French Council of Ministers, Georges Bidault, French Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, British Foreign Secretary, and Harry Truman, US President, are doing all they can to put Germany back on its feet. The country is represented by an imposing ‘Germania’ statue whose aggressive, militaristic features (Wehrmacht helmet with a swastika, military boots and huge sword) do not augur well.
‘France’s need for security. Marianne: Hold him back, he wants to corrupt my innocence!’ On 20 January 1948, German cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang takes an ironic look at the fears of France, represented by a Marianne resembling a prostitute, concerning an overly prompt recovery by post-war Germany, here symbolised by an emaciated, weakened ‘German Michel’ under the supervision of the United States and the United Kingdom.
‘The German Siamese twins.’ On 24 February 1948, German cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang illustrates the question of the future of post-war Germany. On the left, West Germany, represented by a little ‘German Michel’ with a straight hat, is cosseted by the three Western Allies (Marianne for France, Uncle Sam for the United States and John Bull for the United Kingdom), who are working together to get it back on its feet. On the right, a drained, frightened Michel, representing East Germany in the Soviet occupation zone, is faced with a huge bear, symbolising Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. From 23 February to 6 March 1948, the Tripartite Conference between the United States, France and the United Kingdom is held in London on the German question. The three Allies decide to speed up the creation of a West German state that will help stop the spread of Communism.
‘Trial of strength.' On 1 July 1948, after the imposition of the Berlin Blockade by the Soviets, cartoonist Mirko Szewczuk illustrates the ‘trial of strength' between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies (the United States, the United Kingdom and France) over the city's status.
‘The four Great Powers and the German goldfish.' In September 1948, German cartoonist Roland Stigulinszky takes an ironic look at the fate that the four occupying powers (the United Kingdom, France, the United States and the Soviet Union) have in store for defeated Germany. Looking at the ‘German’ goldfish in his bowl, the British soldier comments: ‘That’s right, it’s really thin!’ Clutching his finger, the French soldier exclaims: ‘Sacré nom d’un chien, it bit me!’ The American GI observes: ‘Very nice indeed! (and puts it out to dry)’, while the Soviet soldier smiles and says: ‘Carracho, verry niice!’ and swallows the fish.
‘Europe convalescent home — He’s getting better too quickly …’ On 9 November 1948, in connection with the aid granted by the United States (Dr Uncle Sam) for European economic reconstruction (the Marshall Plan), German cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang illustrates the fears of France (the young Marianne) and the United Kingdom (John Bull) at an overly prompt economic recovery of Germany (Michel). On the right, the Netherlands (a little Meisje) observes the scene.
‘Look at how she’s ingratiating herself with the Western bloc!’ On 8 December 1948, French cartoonist Henri Monier paints an ironic picture of the question of the political future of a defeated, occupied Germany. On the right, French and British soldiers observe how the young Gretchen (Germany) is flirting with the American GI. Three years after the end of the Second World War, the western part of Germany is becoming increasingly integrated into the Western bloc, led by the United States. Already by December 1946, the British and Americans decided to merge their respective occupation zones. With the addition of the French zone in 1948, West Germany became the Trizone. From 20 April to 2 June 1948, the three powers met in London to discuss the future of the country and decided to call a constituent assembly, the German Parliamentary Council.
‘The great revivals — Ondine.’ On 31 May 1949, five years after the end of the Second World War, French cartoonist Effel illustrates the fears of France (Marianne), Belgium (the Manneken-Pis) and the Netherlands (Meisje) at the creation of the fledgling Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). On 23 May 1949, at a public session of the Parliamentary Council in Bonn, Konrad Adenauer, President of the Council, proclaimed the adoption of the Basic Law of the FRG. In the cartoon, the figures representing the three countries are sat on the banks of the Rhine near Bonn and watch with concern as this ‘new’ Germania bathes in the river. Germania is depicted as ‘Ondine’, an incredibly beautiful water nymph in German mythology who lures men into the water to drown them. The reference to Ondine recalls the 1939 play by Jean Giraudoux, based on the tale of ‘Undine’ by Friedrich la Motte Fouqué (1777–1843). As history repeats itself, we are reminded of the fact that in all the different versions of the myth of the nymph Ondine, her romances with mortals end in tragedy.
‘The art of being a great European.’ On 13 December 1949, French cartoonist Roland Moisan paints an ironic picture of the efforts of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman to encourage the reintegration of West Germany, represented as a young Germania wearing the Wehrmacht helmet and goose-stepping forward, into the fold of the European Community. Memories of the Nazi occupation were still strong at this time, and the prospect of a rearmed Germany was anathema to many in Europe.
‘New Year romance or … the one holding the mistletoe.’ On 28 December 1949, French cartoonist Louis Mitelberg paints an ironic picture of post-war Germany’s return to favour on the international stage. The cartoonist harshly criticises the new romance between the fledgling Federal Republic of Germany and the United States, as well the French Foreign Minister’s support for German recovery. As the end of the year approaches, Germania, wearing military boots and a steel helmet decorated with the SS symbol (Schutzstaffel, one of the main paramilitary organisations of the Nazi regime), kisses US President Truman during a romantic dance under the mistletoe — a symbol of long life and prosperity — held by Robert Schuman. With memories of the German occupation still painfully present, and less than five years after the end of the Second World War, some in French political circles and the general public are highly critical of the economic and military recovery of their German neighbour.
‘Children, how quickly time passes’. On 8 April 1950, German cartoonist Beuth illustrates the slow progress of the negotiations on the question of Germany’s future and fears that the solution to the German problem will be postponed indefinitely. From left to right: Dean Acheson, US Secretary of State, Ernest Bevin, British Foreign Secretary, and Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister.
‘Bonn. “Don’t worry, it’s our capable German housemaid.”’ On 3 November 1950, French cartoonist Jean Mad illustrates the question of the political future of the fledgling Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and highlights France’s concerns. Germany was subject to rapid changes in the years following the Second World War. In late 1946, the British and Americans decided to merge their respective occupation zones, and in 1948, with the addition of the French zone, western Germany became the Trizone. On 23 May 1949, a constituent assembly, the German Parliamentary Council, finally proclaimed the adoption of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). The city of Bonn became the capital of the new German state. In the cartoon, Uncle Sam (the United States) is trying to reassure France, depicted as Marianne in a Phrygian cap, as to the new face of the young FRG. Germania, the housemaid (a play on words with the West German capital ‘Bonn’ and the French word for maid, ‘bonne’), is all smiles and is keen to show her neighbour Marianne that she has changed. She demonstrates her good intentions by sweeping Hitlerism, imperialism, militarism, totalitarianism and communism away from her house.