Hidden away in a corner of the twelfth floor of the University Library Tower are several boxes containing ephemera dating back to the Second World War. The only access via the Library’s catalogues are short descriptions in the secondary card catalogue at the heading War of 1939-1945 which read Propaganda leaflets dropped over enemy and enemy controlled countries during the War of 1939- and Miscellaneous leaflets and other printed ephemera connected with the war of 1939-1945. The majority of these items were donated to the Library while the war was still going on. Many of them are examples of information and propaganda leaflets with official translations attached, which the RAF dropped over many different countries of mainland Europe during the war but there are other isolated gems which we will feature here over the coming months.
Our first featured item has a tenuous link to the work of European Collections as it is wholly in English but is so unique that we feel it merits being shown to a wider audience. At first glance it is a sheet with pictures of four pigs on it. A neatly written note in the corner reveals that it was bought in the street in Cambridge on September 30th 1939 (so less than one month into the conflict) by JCT Oates (1912-1990), who was for many years the University Library’s specialist in early printed books and the Library’s history, and later Deputy Librarian.
Careful folding along lines A and B demonstrates that the design of the pigs was ingeniously worked out to reveal Hitler’s face, hence the words “Fold as indicated to find the biggest of all”.