Anti-Allied propaganda in Cambridge University Library’s Nazi Collection

We recently wrote a blog post about a recently catalogued collection of Nazi propaganda. Among these items were some specifically anti-British and anti-American publications which are well worth examining. For instance, the humorous graphic concertina leaflet (leporello) L’Olympiade 1941 (CCC.26:4.620) by Apis (pseudonym for Jean Chaperon, 1887-1969) makes fun of the Allied defeat in Greece, presented in the guise of a failed competition of the British team at the aptly named ‘Olympic games’, under the gaze of Jupiter. In the first two vignettes, a group of Tommies landing in Greece are welcomed with enthusiasm by a young man in traditional Greek costume. But very quickly, the challenge turns sour: the British run away from the German enemy and their best performances consist in their speed at taking flight (running, marathon, jumping, rowing and swimming). The grim outcome is death: “Morts à l’arrivée”.

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Slavonic item of the month : August 2014

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.

Front cover of N.A. Ratomskii's Chto dumaet Vil’gel’m kogda emu ne spitsia? (CCC.54.469)

Front cover of N.A. Ratomskii’s Chto dumaet Vil’gel’m kogda emu ne spitsia? (CCC.54.469)

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.

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World War 2 propaganda (3)

In the run-up to local and European elections on May 22, many flyers and leaflets drop through our letterboxes, promoting the individual parties and candidates. Contrast these with a leaflet found in the University Library on 28 May 1941 produced by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), and deemed important enough to keep for posterity. Times have changed – political leaflets “left” in the Library these days would probably go straight in the bin for recycling.

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World War 2 propaganda (2)

The second in our short series of posts on World War 2 propaganda features an interesting leaflet. Most of the propaganda leaflets in the University Library’s collections are examples of leaflets which the RAF dropped over mainland Europe. But this one is a leaflet dropped by the German Luftwaffe over Britain, in this case landing in the Essex village of Birdbrook, south of Haverhill.

The leaflet was sent to the Librarian by Herbert Richmond, then a 77 year old Fellow of King’s College, with an accompanying letter in which he related how a large number of the leaflets (which he described as ridiculous) were found in a cardboard box near to a small balloon which had come down in a hedge. His niece presumably lived in the village and had got hold of a copy for him to pass to the University Library.

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