Infographics during the war – charting victory with cute statistics

By early 1945, the tide of the Second World War had turned. The allies were winning the war of armaments, raw materials, and battles; victory was now a question of when, rather than if.

It was within this context that Libération-Soir, the newspaper, printed a special entitled Vers la défaite totale de l’Allemagne. Very much in common with modern infographics, which aim to convey a great deal of information (primarily statistics) in easy-to-digest charts and images, the aim of this 18 page publication was to show the inevitability of defeat for Germany. It did this by comparing a variety of statistics from 1939, 1942 and 1944, but also included some information (primarily in map form) from 1945.

coal

A chart of German coal production: 1939, 1942, 1944

We are unsure of the exact publication date of this work, besides a statement of copyright from 1945. Only 5 libraries in Worldcat have a copy of this: the Zentralbibliothek der Technischen Universität Berlin in Germany, and Harvard, the Library of Congress, University of Minnesota and UCLA in the US. None of the cataloguers in those institutions seems to have any special information about when in 1945 this was published. However, due to the contents, we can assume that it was some time in the early part of the year: for instance, there are maps depicting the retreat of the German army as of January 1, 1945. The war is certainly still underway; in fact, one chart appears to indicate that Germany was still able to trade only with Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Poland… but how up-to-date this information was at time of printing is uncertain.

As an additional note, the back cover contained this rather impressive advertisement for the Loterie Nationale:

Loterie nationale (back cover)

Back cover of Vers la défaite totale de l’Allemagne, showing an exceptionally ornate advertisement for the Loterie nationale.

Josh Hutchinson

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