Kurt Tucholsky Book Cover
Berlin, Germany, 1929
This iconic piece of German Dada design appeared on page 178 of the hugely successfully Kurt Tucholsky and John Heartfield collaboration Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles.
Published in 1929 by Neuer Deutscher Verlag, Tucholsky’s picture-survey was a devastating critique of the Weimar Republic.
Putting ears on the sides of trousers can be considered a deceptively simple Heartfield photomontage idea. However, to fully appreciate the photomontage, the viewer should note the use of shadow and meticulous placement. Heartfield was a tireless perfectionist. After hours of solitary work, he brought his original work to the reproducers, only to rework the image again and again after he saw what they had done.
It’s certainly one of John Heartfield’s most amusing images. He would later use his sharp sense of humor to devastating effect against fascists, Adolf Hitler, and The Third Reich. He would turn the words of their hyperbolic speeches against them by including satiric captions that echoed their words. He modified their phrases to reveal the hatred, lies, and logic errors in their quotes.
This image allows the view to see the kind of notes to the rotogravure masters Heartfield included in his photo montages. This year, the exhibition plans to offer some high-resolution photographs of Heartfield original work, known by scholars as maquettes.
The politics in Weimar Republic, Germany, can be viewed as an eerie mirror of the politics during the 2016 American presidential campaign. Germans were angry and concerned about their financial future. Minority groups, specifically Jews, were targeted as scapegoats for the country’s ills. In this climate, people be willing to put an authoritarian figure, a fascist or a dictator, in power.
Was it a Berlin saying that Adolf Hitler was the only person who could make Germany great again?