This John Heartfield poster had several incarnations. It was an AIZ cover to protest the Geneva concessions to Adolf Hitler. There was also a 1960 variation.
Heartfield’s impaled dove of peace is universally regarded as a masterpiece of political imagery. It is certainly one of Heartfield’s most famous and dramatic political statements.
The collage (photo montage) of the dove of peace on a bayonet is shown before the League of Nations building. A swastika replaces the Swiss flag.
In religious terms, the dove may symbolize the Holy Spirit or the human soul. The dove with an olive branch in its mouth is a symbol of peace in the biblical story of Noah’s arc. Heartfield drew inspiration from his impressive memory of text and images.
Heartfield’s goal was to use his political art “as a weapon” to awaken the world to Hitler’s expanding power. The world accepted Hitler at first. He was regarded as a strong political leader. His power depended on worldwide financial support. Banks and steel manufacturers were more than happy to support him regardless of his ugly views.
My grandfather loved animals and nature. You can see this for yourself in photos in The John J Heartfield Collection in the LIFE AS A FIGHTER section of the exhibition. The brutality of this image was surely a difficult personal and emotional statement.