In the Huffington Post on November 24, 2015, I read a article by Ryan Grenoble with the headline “This Daily Mail Anti-Refugee Cartoon Is Straight Out Of Nazi Germany.” The article is illustrated with an offensive cartoon showing Syrian refugees crossing into Europe bringing rats with them. Further down the page is a Nazi cartoon depicting Jews as rats wiped from the doorstep of Germany.
I was immediately reminded of my grandfather’s 1934 photomontage, “Conversation In The Berlin Zoo.”
Under the montage is the translated dialogue for John Heartfield’s photomontage:
Monkey: “Herr Streicher (a known Nazi) writes that the Jews are animals and so on – Will they soon be locked up in the Zoo?”
The Wise Marabou: “Phoo! They are to be placed on church spires. That’s much cleverer.”
Monkey: “Explain, why?”
The Wise Marabou: “The Jews are the best lightening conductors.”
John Heartfield’s political art brilliantly illustrated how those seeking political power by any means find it useful to use the most vulnerable groups as lightening rods to excite their supporters.
It seems as true in 2015 as it was in 1934.