Thanks to vocal support from researchers across the University following trial access earlier this year, the Library has now purchased permanent access to the electronic backfiles of Krokodil and Literaturnaia gazeta. These purchases provide our readers with full accessibility to these very important titles for the first time. Continue reading
Are Germans funny? This question arose in our department recently when a book about German humour crossed my desk. Being German and therefore naturally taking our humour quite seriously, the holdings of the UL dealing with this phenomenon seemed worthwhile investigating – especially with the so called “fifth season” (also known as Karneval or Fasching) in Germany currently at its peak (during Mardi Gras). Contrary to popular belief, it seems that humour is in fact quite important and deeply rooted in German culture. However, German humour is vastly different from British, even though both forms often rely on puns (but, due to linguistic differences, German puns are constructed in a way that makes it often impossible to translate without losing their wit). In Germany, political humour, satire and caricatures are also widespread, and comedy shows and programmes regularly feature on TV. It is therefore no surprise that the UL holds several books dealing with humour in a German context (such as caricatures, satire and the phenomenon of carnival during Germany’s turbulent history).
In August 1914, Germany and Austro-Hungary declared war on Russia, and the bloody Eastern Front of the First World War opened. The war saw a great deal of propaganda on all sides, some surprisingly humorous. We look at a mischievous pamphlet from Petrograd (renamed from the Germanic “Sankt-Peterburg” that same month) about Kaiser Wilhelm.
Imperial Russia’s involvement in the First World War was disastrous, seeing the deaths of millions of soldiers and eventually the empire’s own demise too. The bloody Eastern Front opened after Russia’s incursion into Galicia with the Battle of Tannenberg, a battle lost so catastrophically by the Russians that their commander, Aleksandr Samsonov, chose to commit suicide than face the Tsar.
Anti-German sentiment was at fever pitch in Russia, and in August 1914, the empire’s capital, Sankt-Peterburg (St Petersburg) was renamed Petrograd to be more Slavic. The University Library has about 30 publications printed in 1914 with the place of publication given as Petrograd. Among these is Chto dumaet Vil’gel’m kogda emu ne spitsia? (What does Wilhelm think about when he can’t sleep?; CCC.54.469), by N.A. Ratomskii.