‘… and what’s going to happen to me?’ On 9 October 1948, German cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang illustrates the question of German rearmament and European defence. Little ‘German Michel’, looking very isolated and helpless faced with the dangers from the East, ponders his future. On the other site of the Rhine, European defence is organised in makeshift fashion under the auspices of the United States (Uncle Sam), who is calling in the troops. France, depicted by Marianne wearing a Phrygian cap, is buckling her belt, complete with sword, while John Bull, representing Great Britain, checks the barrel of his gun.
‘ … We even provide the user manual.’ On 28 July 1949, as plans are being made for the organisation of European defence, French cartoonist Jean Effel harshly criticises the prominent role played by the United States (on the right, Uncle Sam) in the efforts to rearm the fledgling Federal Republic of Germany. The FRG is depicted as a Germania with aggressive, militaristic features, who is being handed a gun and user manual by Uncle Sam. Her steel horned helmet with a crossed-out swastika recalls the misdeeds and atrocities of Nazi Germany during the Second World War and emphasises France’s distrust of post-war Germany. In the background we see Britannia and Meisje, the personifications of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, carrying their guns on their shoulders for military training. In the context of the Cold War, the United States is calling on France to accept the rapid rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany because it is increasingly afraid that the Soviet Union will launch an offensive military campaign in Western Europe. But the majority of the general public, especially in France, does not seem ready to accept a new German army, with memories of the Second World War and the Nazi occupation still painfully present.
‘The new German army. Trust in the German soldier. Acheson. — “Here’s an idea, Schuman! Show it to the French people to help persuade them …”’ On 8 December 1949, French cartoonist Louis Mitelberg illustrates the awkward position of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman (on the right) over German rearmament. The United States, worried that the Soviet Union will launch an offensive war in Western Europe, is actively promoting the prompt rearmament of the fledgling Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). But Schuman remains perplexed at the poster presented by US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, which highlights the merits of the German soldier. This poster stirs up bad memories as it resembles the Nazi propaganda that was widely distributed from the early days of the occupation of France during the Second World War. These wartime posters, designed to reassure civilians, showed a smiling Wehrmacht soldier holding a child in his arms, together with the slogan ‘Abandoned populations, trust in the German soldier!’. In 1949, the majority of the general public, especially in France, did not seem ready to accept a new German army, with memories of the Second World War and the German occupation still painfully present.
‘Marianne between Poincaré and Briand’. On 2 November 1950, as discussions are held on the military rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany, German cartoonist Wolfgang Hicks illustrates France's dilemma. Faced with the outstretched hand of the little German Michel, representing the young West Germany, France, depicted as Marianne, has two choices: it can either adopt a policy of mistrust and firmness (Poincaré as a devil on the left) with regard to its German partner, or choose the path of rapprochement (Briand as an angel on the right). Raymond Poincaré, President of the French Republic from 1913 to 1920, fought for the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France and the annexation of the Rhineland and the Saar. During his time as a senator (1920–1934), he chaired the Senate’s Reparations Commission and was particularly firm in his application of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, especially with regard to defeated Germany. On the other side, Aristide Briand, a French politician and diplomat, several times President of the Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Justice, adopted a policy that was openly geared towards Franco-German rapprochement. In 1926, he received the Nobel Peace Prize with German politician Gustav Stresemann for his efforts to promote reconciliation between France and Germany through the 1925 Locarno Treaties.
‘Mummy’s favourite’. On 1 September 1951, in the satirical East German magazine Frischer Wind, cartoonist Kurt Poltiniak condemns the United States’ support for West German rearmament. US President Harry Truman is depicted as a devoted mother caring for her youngest, the Federal Republic of Germany, who is already showing signs of remilitarisation (the helmet and boots). From left to right, other European figures are portrayed as squabbling children trying to win the favour of the American ‘mother’: Spanish dictator Franco, Yugoslav leader Marshal Tito, General Charles de Gaulle and former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Hanging on the wall is a portrait of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, who welcomes the revival of a militaristic Germany.
‘Germany. Schuman. — “You see, I knew him when he was this high!”’ On 19 September 1951, German-born cartoonist Woop (William Wolpe) illustrates the fears of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman (on the right) at the possible rearmament of the young West Germany, depicted as a small child already showing signs of remilitarisation (Wehrmacht helmet and boots). Under pressure from the United States, which wants its European allies to prepare for this rearmament so as to counter the threat from the Eastern bloc, Robert Schuman reminds US Secretary of State Dean Acheson of the painful memories left by the Second World War and the German military occupation. France fears a resurgence of German hegemony on the European continent.
‘The repairs aren’t as easy as all that.’ On 12 December 1951, the German cartoonist, Beuth, illustrates the difficulties which the Six, under the watchful eye of Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, will have to overcome if they are to establish a European army. The German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer Konrad (on the left) and the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman (on the right) try with little hope to start the vehicle.
‘… and why do you have such big teeth? All the better to eat you with!’ In 1953, parodying the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, East German cartoonist Peter Dittrich deplores the dangers of the future European Defence Community (EDC) and the United States’ support for the plan to rearm the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). For Moscow and East Germany, this process poses a threat to peace, as it encourages the revival of West German militaristic nationalism. A wolf wearing a Wehrmacht helmet with the SS logo (Schutzstaffel), a machine gun around its neck and sharp fangs spelling out the German acronym for the EDC, threatens to devour a little girl with a Phrygian cap, symbolising France. The collusion between West German and US interests is also criticised: US President Eisenhower lies in ambush (wearing the cap of little German Michel), a machine gun slung across his shoulder, observing the scene, and a US flag bearing the name of Federal Chancellor Adenauer is draped across the wolf’s back.
‘German Europe.’ In December 1953, the communist journal Démocratie nouvelle demonstrates its hostility towards the European Defence Community (EDC) and illustrates the dangers of German rearmament for France and Europe. French cartoonist Mitelberg shows a German helmet from the Wehrmacht descending on Paris, plunging Europe and France into darkness in a scene that recalls the Second World War. By evoking the painful memory of the occupation of Europe by German troops, Mitelberg illustrates the fear that history will repeat itself if West Germany regains its armed forces. The term ‘German’ written in barbed wire also hints at the horror of the concentration camps and the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis.
‘Remember 1940.’ On 31 July 1954, French cartoonist Louis Mitelberg illustrates the potential dangers of participation by the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the European Defence Community (EDC), alluding to the painful memory of the Second World War and the exodus of French civilians fleeing the Nazi invader. Many fear that including German troops in a European Defence Community (EDC) would lead to a revival of German militarism and see history repeating itself.
‘EDC. NATO. Adenauer: “It’s not a threat — I’m telling you that you can choose one or the other!”’ In 1954, in the East German satirical magazine Eulenspiegel, as debates are held on the creation of a European Defence Community, cartoonist Harri Parschau deplores the threat facing France (Marianne) in the light of the plan for German rearmament advocated by Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. The two soldiers presented by the West German Chancellor strangely resemble the soldiers of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War, and their threatening appearance is emphasised by the fact that they are pointing their guns at Marianne. The possible revival of the West German army within the EDC or NATO does not augur well for France’s future and brings back the spectre of war.
‘Everything is good in a chicken! I love you … a little … a lot …’ On 6 August 1954, French cartoonist Josep Paz paints an ironic picture of the unenviable position awaiting France in the event of West German rearmament. The French Gallic rooster symbolising the Fourth Republic is being plucked by a young Germania, who is feigning innocence with her neat plaits and wearing what seems to be a steel Viking helmet. Paz draws attention to the militarist tendencies of Germany, which, despite the reassuring words of its leaders, represents a real threat to French security.
‘With or without the EDC … “German contingent … by the right … quick march!”’ On 19 August 1954, German cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang illustrates the fears of Pierre Mendès France, President of the French Council of Ministers and French Foreign Minister, at the proposed European Defence Community (EDC) and the rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). Despite the attempts of Mendès France to prevent the revival of a German army, it seems to be inevitable.
‘To the woods to celebrate the victory of Little Red Riding Hood!’ On 5 September 1954, taking inspiration from the story of Little Red Riding Hood, a cartoon by Effel in the French communist daily newspaper L’Humanité illustrates the decision by the French National Assembly not to ratify the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community (EDC). The big bad wolf, wearing a Wehrmacht helmet marked ‘EDC’, is defeated by a young, dynamic Marianne (depicted as Red Riding Hood).
‘The recalcitrant fiancé. So come on then, are you going to say “yes”?’ On 22 September 1954, following the rejection by the French National Assembly of the plan for a European Defence Community (EDC) on 30 August 1954, French cartoonist César Garcia illustrates the efforts by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the ECSC Member States, meeting in London on 16 September, to find a solution to the rearmament and restoration of sovereignty to the Federal Republic of Germany. France is very reluctant at the idea of German rearmament and is keen to secure guarantees before giving its agreement. From left to right: US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (the bride) and Pierre Mendès France (the fiancé), French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden is holding the bride’s train, with, on his left, Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister.
‘France wants the German army to be … stronger than the Soviet army … weaker than the French army.’ Published on 27 September 1954 in the German daily newspaper Die Welt, this cartoon by Fritz Behrendt shows France’s unease about German rearmament and the country’s desire to retain its superiority over the forces from across the Rhine.
‘German sovereignty. Equal rights. Armament. “I’m sure we would hear each other much better if she didn’t shout so loudly!..”’ On 8 October 1954, French cartoonist Jo Paz (Joseph Paz) illustrates the difficult negotiations between France and West Germany over the end of the occupation regime in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the restoration of the FRG’s sovereignty and the country’s rearmament. France (on the right, depicted as Marianne) seems somewhat irritated by the numerous demands made by young Gretchen (on the left wearing a Wehrmacht helmet), symbolising Germany. The Germans have three main requests: ‘German sovereignty, equal rights, armament’. The Paris Agreements, signed on 23 October 1954, restore sovereignty to the FRG, which becomes a full member of NATO, and result in the creation of Western European Union (WEU).
‘Il renaît le divin enfant …’ On 29 December 1954, as the question is raised of the rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany, French cartoonist Pol Ferjac takes inspiration from the traditional French carol Il est né le divin enfant (‘He is born, the divine child’) to paint an ironic picture of the ‘rebirth’ of the ‘divine child’ as a German soldier in the Wehrmacht uniform, gun in hand. John Foster Dulles (US Secretary of State), Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgian Foreign Minister), Pierre Mendès France (President of the French Council of Ministers) and Anthony Eden (British Foreign Secretary) are depicted as shepherds watching over the newborn babe.
‘Bother, it’s becoming more and more rocky’. In 1955, in the satirical East German magazine Eulenspiegel, cartoonist Kurt Poltiniak deplores the efforts of West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French Prime Minister Pierre Mendès France to make progress on the issue of rearmament in the Federal Republic of Germany. The government authorities in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) are concerned at the danger of a return of West German militarism. In the sentry box pushed by the two Western leaders, we can see a soldier in Wehrmacht uniform looking threatening and armed with a bayonet rifle.
‘The enemy is in the East. And what will happen, dear Pierre, when I won’t be there to stand between them any more?’ On 22 January 1955, German cartoonist Brockmann takes an ironic look at the mistrust of Pierre Mendès France, President of the French Council of Ministers, concerning the rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany. For Federal Chancellor Adenauer, the threat does not come from the FRG, but from further east.