Monday, February 4, 2013

History in the cards

A few years ago an old patient gave me an envelope full of German cigarette cards.  These things were pretty popular in Europe and the UK in the 1930s, and were collected and pasted into albums.  He had picked them up for some reason when he was a serviceman during the Second World War and later on Occupation duty.

This particular set is called "Der Nachkreigzeit", or The Time after the War.  It refers of course to the time after World War One, as at the time of their issue in 1934 few anticipated that there would be a second go around.

They make an interesting time capsule.  It is a brief peek into Germany at just the time that things were changing.  The Great Depression was starting to let up a bit, and political change was in the air.

Many of the images are just current events, some forgotten today.  Here is a view from the German Greenland Expedition:
Hey, this guy looks very familiar....

Marty Feldman as "Eyegore"

Other images have some subtle propaganda slant, as if to show that the rest of the world has problems even worse than Germany.
The title of this one is "Labor Unrest in England".

My guess is that most Germans at the time recognized that this and all other forms of domestic information contained some bias.  By this time the first concentration camps had been established and the Communists blamed for the Reichstag fire.  But were any of them farsighted enough to see the point at which the tone of information began to foretell darker things?

Here is the tomb of Nazi martyr Horst Wessel, with its legend "Raise High the Banner". 

And when you start to accept that you are being lied to on a regular basis, how long before this happens?

And the reverse of this card describing Adolph Hitler's speech contains the final darkness:

Note where the cards were made:  Dresden

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