Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Marlboro Baby: Cigarette Propaganda from the "Good Old Days"

When was the last time you saw a baby pitch cigarettes?
Before cigarette smoking was determined to cause lung and other types of cancers, it was promoted by Madison Avenue in many different and creative ways. According to a report in Time magazine, Ridley Scott, who was a commercial director before he went on to feature films, said that cigarette ads were the most fun to make, because they were all image. One can only imagine the meetings and brainstorming sessions that resulted in the above ads for Marlboro cigarettes in the early 1950s. Long before there was a Marlboro Man there was an adorable little Marlboro baby!

It seems (if this image was not created via Photoshop) that you can purchase your own Marlboro Baby shirt!
Well, if Santa Claus smokes, then shouldn't everyone?
The holidays are just around the corner. Worried about catching a cold before your Christmas shopping is finished? You can "guard against throat-scratch" by copying Santa and lighting up a Pall Mall. Kris Kringle enjoys "the smooth smoking of fine tobaccos" as he gets all the toys ready in his workshop. All cigarettes advertised back in the 1950s seem to have been "mild" and "smooth." When was the last time you "let a carton of Pall Malls say 'Merry Christmas' for you"?

Now if your doctor smokes Camels, then they must be good for you!
Wouldn't you just get a warm, fuzzy feeling all over if your doctor lit up a cigarette during your annual exam? Back in 1946, when the Mad Men on Madison Avenue were sketching this one with different headlines, the link between smoking and lung cancer wasn't totally set in stone. Ads such as the above were created to reassure consumers about a product known even then as "coughin' nails." What better spokesman than a local doctor? Would he lie to you, Mr. and Mrs. Consumer? The medical community of 1946 did nothing to combat such advertising. Why should they? Everybody smoked. Notice the "T-Zone" in the ad--for "taste" and "throat." Notice how happy the smokers look.

Did you ever have to make up your mind? It seems that home run hitter and New York Yankee Mickey Mantle did not! Above he appears as spokesman for two different brands: Viceroy and Camel. I bet that you didn't know that "many of the Yanks smoke Camels"! I wonder what brand of whiskey they drank in the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium? Back then Mantle was known as the "Commerce Comet," and was only one of several sports heroes to endorse cigarettes when these ads appeared in 1957 (left) and 1953. If so many "Yanks smoke Camels" then how did they win all of those World Series? Perhaps the other teams smoked cigarettes that were not "richer tasting..." or "mild and swell tasting!"

Next time you and the little lady take in a baseball game, do what this couple does!

What could be cuter than cartoon characters making smoking seem "fun"?
Imagine being a child back in the 1950s and early 1960s. You're watching TV and all of a sudden your favorite characters are in a commercial smoking cigarettes! Now of course the cigarette companies have always claimed that they don't market their product to children. Would those giant corporations lie to you and me?

Here are three ads for cigarettes featuring the Flintstones.

Wait! Don't leave yet! Take a look at capitalist advertising inspired by Stalinist propaganda!

Copyright (C) Eric Brothers 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mad Men Gone Wild: Advertising as Butt-Kicking Propaganda

The imagery of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center is used to make an emotional connection with the viewer.

There are times when advertising and propaganda blend into something virtually indistinguishable.  When that happens, an image combined with a simple slogan grabs the viewer's attention not through the mind but through the heart.  The emotions are triggered.  It is an unabashed appeal to the heart strings--the intellect is ignored.  Thus the message makes an instant connection with the viewer.

"The Century of the Self" is a 235-minute full-length documentary about manipulation of the masses in politics and business.  It tells the story of propaganda, public relations and advertising in the 20th century. Please click here to see the documentary in four parts: http://thoughtmaybe.com/the-century-of-the-self/

The above ad has the qualities of effective propaganda.  It uses the image of two burning cigarettes as metaphor for the 9/11 attack upon the World Trade Center in New York.  The slogan, "NO More Killing" also hearkens back to the 9/11 attacks.  This ad (or propaganda) demands attention by virtue of its content and message.

The ad copy reads, "It is estimated that one person dies every 8 seconds from smoking.  Stop smoking now!"  It is secondary, however, to the powerful image and slogan.  Two separate concepts are triggered: the 9/11 attack killed many people and smoking kills many people.  That information is in the viewer's mind but it is the emotions that bring it forth.

Saks Fifth Avenue employs Soviet-style propaganda in its advertising.
The capitalist Saks Fifth Avenue department store employed a Soviet propaganda style from 1925 used by the state-run Mosselprom department store chain in order to sell its "slouchy bag" in 2009.  The imagery is simple but dramatic.  The slogan, "ARM YOURSELF WITH A SLOUCHY BAG" is presented in dramatic red and white Soviet style, while the model stands out by being shot in black-and-white. 

This Soviet propaganda poster from 1925 says, "Nowhere else but Mosselprom."
The model stares coldly into the future with her clenched fist raised in the air, a style reminiscent of Soviet propaganda from the 1920s and 1930s.  It could be considered a "socialist realism" advertisement for Saks.  Everything about the ad screams "propaganda" but in a simple but striking manner.  The white slouchy bag stands out in contrast to the black dress worn by the model.  The white bag also matches the color of the slogan, "ARM YOURSELF..."  The slouchy bag ad does not pack an emotional wallop like the anti-smoking ad above, but selling fashion accessories is a much different game than trying to get people to quit smoking. 

This Coke ad from the 1970s presents an effective image and slogan.
Like all effective propaganda, this Coke-a-Cola ad from the 1970s presents a simple slogan and a strong image.  The slogan for Coke, "It's the real thing" was repeated in television and print advertising and point-of-purchase displays.  Thus it was familiar to consumers.  And, like all good propaganda, when repeated enough it becomes "truth" in the mind of the buying public.

 This brief (a little over 2 minutes) East German film is a mix of propaganda and consumer-oriented advertising.  It is in German with no subtitles, but you should get the idea from the images and the tone of the narrative.
The image in the above ad gives the impression that a sweet, syrupy drink is at home with healthy food such as fruit and cheese.  Thus the implication is that Coke is healthy, which it is not.  This is propaganda that presents a slogan and image that persuade consumers that Coke is "good" and "real" and "healthy."


Here is a propaganda film about American capitalism from 1948.
Wait!  Don't go yet!  Before you leave, take a look at "The Marlboro Baby": 
Click here to read about the Marlboro baby now!


Copyright (C) Eric Brothers 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wolf at the Door: HSN Uses Propanganda to Sell 2010 Proof Silver Eagles


The smiling coin salesman on HSN is like the wolf about to eat the Three Little Pigs!

When the U.S. Mint opened up sales for the 2010-W Proof Silver Eagle in November of 2010, the price was $45.95 each for consumers with a limit of 100 coins per household.   Now HSN (Home Shopping Network) is selling these very same coins for $179.95 EACH plus $9.95 shipping and handling.  HSN is a big customer of the U.S. Mint and the price they paid for each coin was way below the $49.95 that consumers paid.  On April 3, 2011, HSN was selling these coins at an alleged "Price Break" for only $159.95 each plus $9.95 S & H.

HSN charges $100 per coin over retail prices on 2010 Proof Silver Eagles.

The Wolf: Mike Mezack sells coins for ridiculous prices to consumers on HSN.
On the www.numisteamtakeover.com website, Mike Mezack is called a "Celebrity, Expert Numismatist."  Well, this blogger has seen this "Expert Numismatist" holding coins with his thumb and finger on the obverse and reverse.  Young children who collect coins are taught to only hold coins by the rim.  What Mezack is is a salesman--and only a salesman.  The website tells us that during his career, Mezack "has produced sales in excess of one billion dollars, and is regarded as the greatest numismatic salesman in the world." 

Watch Mezack and another salesman use propaganda to sell these coins at prices that gouge the consumer.

Please notice the sales tactics--propaganda--they are using.  They talk about the price of silver going up dramatically, while they are lowering the price of the coin by $20.  This makes it sound like are giving the consumer a "deal."  They don't, however, tell you what the price of silver is on April 3, 2011 (the morning that their "show" was aired).  The price that day was around $38/ounce.  Now the proof issues of the Silver Eagles do command a premium, but it is nowhere near what they are charging: $159.95 each.


2010 Silver American Eagle Coin with U. S. Mint Box
Click on the coin to purchase a 2010 Silver Eagle at a realistic price from Amazon.com!

The Numis Network website tells us that "...Mike revolutionized the numismatic coin industry by pioneering the sale of graded, modern issue silver and gold coins. This transformed the industry."  In other words, he came up with a gimmick to increase sales.  People are impressed with coins graded MS70 or PR70 in a certified holder.  What the HSN boys don't tell you is that the vast majority of modern coins are available in those grades.  It is the older coins that are rare in high grades.  No modern coin in an MS70 or PR70 holder is rare. 

Note how the coin is packaged and marketed by HSN.  The ANACS holder says "First Day of Issue," which does nothing for the coin's value or collect-ability.  Additionally, the wood box is just a toy that no coin collector needs.  It is just another gimmick.
Let's take a look at some closing prices of the same exact coin on eBay from April 16, 2011, when the price of silver was around $43/ounce.  That is $5/ounce more than April 3, when the above "show" aired.  First I will take five 2010 proof silver eagles that are not in ANACS certified and graded holders.  The average price is $70.20; the highest price was $73 and the lowest was $69.

There were two ANACS certified proof Silver Eagles graded PR70.  Both sold for $79.95 with FREE shipping.  The only difference was that these coins did not say "First Day of Issue," but that really means nothing to a collector.  The price difference is a whopping $100.  The price difference on the non-certified coins is a little more: $108.80.  These savings are based upon HSN's regular price of $179.95.  So if people purchased their coins on eBay at true retail prices, they would have saved $100 or more. 

Do you remember what P.T. Barnum said?
P.T. Barnum famously said, "There's a sucker born every minute."  The fellows who sell coins on HSN have taken that to heart and have improved upon it.  And they are helped by the people who buy their overpriced coins.  How?  Because most people don't bother educating themselves about the coin market and precious metals market.

If someone you know has bought coins on HSN, please send this blog post to them.  If you have personally bought coins on HSN, you can still educate yourself.  Find a local coin club.  Attend local coin shows.  Get some books on the coins that you enjoy.  HSN is counting on you not to do that.

So it all boils down to this.  If you want to spend your money foolishly, then you can believe what the charming, smiling boys on HSN are telling you.  If you don't want to be fooled and robbed by their propaganda, then educate yourself.  Coin collecting can be a wonderful hobby--if you do it right.

Copyright (C) Eric Brothers 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Buchenwald in Red: Antifascist Propaganda in the GDR

Buchenwald Memorial by Fritz Cremer 1958. Photo: Wikipedia.

Founded upon the ashes of Hitler’s Third Reich in the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany, the German Democratic Republic (1949-1989) called itself an "antifascist" state. Much of its antifascist culture came from the many communist and social democratic survivors of Buchenwald concentration camp. The former camp became an antifascist Mecca, and a major focus of antifascist education in East Germany.

Antifascist banner at liberated Buchenwald. It is written as a rhyme but it translates into English as, "We anti-fascists want to go home to eradicate the Nazi criminals."
Video of Buchenwald taken recently showing what remains, and photos and bare ground and remains of buildings that were destroyed by the GDR in 1952.

Antifascism was the ideological and moral backbone of the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany). Its antifascism, however, was a complex, double-edged sword: it was an ideological tool needed for both a national identity and its anti-Western Cold War rhetoric, as well as a way to exonerate East Germans from guilt or responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis. Employing the concept of “Zero Hour” (Stunde Null), East Germans created a new identity based upon a clean break with the past and a complete rejection of Nazism. According to Alan Nothnagle, however, it was an antifascist "myth" that was developed and cultivated for 40 years.

The first monument to commemorate Buchenwald, constructed by the survivors themselves, in 1945.
Listen to the "Buchenwald-Lied" (The Buchenwald Song).

"Antifascist Myth" in GDR?

He writes that, "The 'antifascist myth' claims that the GDR was the direct product of a popular anti-Nazi resistance struggle carried out with tragic loss of life under the leadership of the KPD [Communist party of Germany]. The SED [Socialist Unity Party], as successor to the KPD, was a thoroughly antifascist party whose credentials in the German resistance movement provided it with the legitimacy it needed to assume the leadership of German society. Antifascism legitimated the GDR's leaders and their policies."

Antifascism was real and many people suffered under the Nazis. And yes, there was a resistance movement, but it was deep underground and not a popular mass movement. The reality is that the GDR was not founded by resistance fighters, but by the exiled KPD leadership who were living comfortably in Stalin's shadow in Moscow.

One view of antifascism is presented by Benita Blessing, who writes, “[East] German antifascism … as a political, ideological, and educational program, was an ongoing process of rebuilding the German nation and national consciousness around a new political and cultural idea.”

The antifascist education of the FDJ (Free German Youth, the official GDR youth movement) included visits to Buchenwald. This visit was in 1969.
A concrete example of antifascism is that between 1945 and 1950 Soviet and East German officials carried out a rigorous de-Nazification program. Thousands of suspected war criminals and Nazi sympathizers found themselves in prisons and former concentration camps. Additionally in the Soviet Zone, survivors of Nazi brutality visited schools to share their experiences with students.

Liberated Buchenwald prisoners demonstrate to Gen. Eisenhower the torture methods used against them.


Holocaust "disappears" from the history of the GDR

Ironically, fighting anti-Semitism, a major ideological theme of Nazism, was not part of the development of the antifascist GDR. Anti-Semitism, however, became taboo: dangerous and illegal to practice, but also left out of the history and cultural development of East Germany. Jews in the GDR began to fade from history: unique elements of the Holocaust disappeared and Jews were lumped together with other persecuted minorities as “victims of fascism.” Claudia Koonz explains why: “In the East, politicians rallied against Nazi terror and analyzed it within a Marxist-Leninist scheme that had no place for genocide.” The East German dictatorship destroyed Communist memories of past solidarity with the Jews, as well as support of Jewish Holocaust survivors. Herf writes that “at one time, solidarity with the Jews had something to do with the fight against Nazi Germany."

Jewish survivors of Buchenwald attend Passover services in camp in 1945.

Anetta Kahane writes, "the Jews as a specific group of victims disappeared....For example, whereas the first monument set up in Buchenwald by the former inmates themselves explicitly mentions Jews among the victims, neither the word 'Jewish' nor any reference to Jewish inmates is to be found in the East German monument."

Communists and Social Democrats in Buchenwald

What makes Buchenwald unique among Nazi concentration camps is that many political prisoners--primarily Communists and Social Democrats--were imprisoned there and survived. This fact greatly influenced the reconstruction and interpretation of the Buchenwald camp history since its liberation in 1945, as well as the overall development of the GDR until its collapse in 1989.

A resolution passed by the Secretariat of the SED on October 9, 1950, stated that, "On the basis of preparations carried out by former inmates...it was decided that the entire [Buchenwald] camp, along with all of its barracks, was to be torn down." What was to remain standing? The crematorium, the entrance gate building, and the eastern and western watchtowers.

This is what Buchenwald looked like before a good part of it was destroyed by the GDR.

It appears that the combination of preservation and obliteration of Buchenwald was to support the theme of "triumph through death and struggle." A former inmate, however, felt compelled to defend the demolition in 1952: "The essence of Buchenwald concentration camp is not embodied in the barracks and the stone blocks...The essence was the deep terror, organized resistance, and the deep faith in the triumph of our just cause!"

Ernst Thaellman, leader of the KPD, was killed in Buchenwald in 1944.

What was to be evoked at Buchenwald was an impression of merciless desolation and inhospitably. The "conscious defeat of fascist horror" under the leadership of the Communist party was presented. To that end, the memorial grounds were covered with a series of informational plaques that summarized the Communist resistance and international solidarity under the leadership of the KPD.

The dedication ceremony of the Nationale Mahn- und Gedenkstaette Buchenwald (National Buchenwald Memorial) took place in September of 1958. Passing through an archaistic gate led to a stairway leading down a hill. The visitor walked down to the burial places of the dead, passing relief steles that fit the theme of "triumph through death and struggle."

This section, the "Avenue of the Nations," honors the dead of each nation who perished at Buchenwald.
The visitor walked past mass graves surrounded by three Romanesque ring walls. The walk down the hill and burial ground represented the "Night of Fascism." Next was the "Avenue of the Nations" which represented international militant solidarity. Ascending the "Stairway to Freedom" led to the sculpture of the liberated inmates and the "Tower of Freedom." At this point, the visitor learned about the "self-liberation" of the inmates.

There were three lessons taught at Buchenwald: 1) Fascism and monopoly capitalism were solely responsible for Nazi war crimes; 2) the German working class, led by the KPD and aided by the Soviets, had heroically resisted Nazi rule; and 3) this "heritage set the stage for the GDR's unflagging battle against international capitalism..."

A Russian prisoner identifies a Buchenwald guard.

Nothnagle describes the larger-than-life Fritz Cremer sculpture, which was crafted in socialist realism style (see the top photo): "...a man raises his rifle symbolizing the self-liberation. One falls in the struggle, some stand helplessly in despair... Most significantly of all, a small boy stands bravely at the far right end, symbolizing the new antifascist generation. Above the entire ensemble waves the banner of the working class."

All of that changed with the opening of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the GDR in 1989. Thus the antifascist "theme park" of the communists was re-conceived and restructured in order to tell the entire story of Buchenwald.

Here are the different triangle patches that prisoners wore at Buchenwald.
Sources:

Blessing, Benita. The Antifascist Classroom: Denazification in Soviet-occupied Germany, 1945-1949. Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2006.

Brothers, Eric. “Heroes or Victims? The Role and Antifascist Culture of Jews in the German Democratic Republic.” European Judaism. Vol. 25, No. 2, Autumn 1992. Issue 49. Pergamon Press Ltd. (London).

Herf, Jeffrey. “East German Communists and the Jewish Question: The Case of Paul Merker.” Fourth Alios Mertes Memorial Lecture 1994. German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C. Occasional Paper No. 11.

Koonz, Claudia. “Between Memory and Oblivion: Concentration Camps in German Memory.” Gillis, John R., Editor. Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity. Princeton University Press, 1996.

Nothnagle, Alan L. Building the East German Myth: Historical Mythology and Youth Propaganda in the German Democratic Republic. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1999.


Copyright (C) Eric Brothers 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"PROPAGANDA III": ART TO PISS YOU OFF--OR GIVE YOU PAUSE

Propaganda art by William Groshelle (C).  All rights reserved.
Back in 2007-2008 there was a massive poster art traveling exhibition called "Propaganda III" that caused quite a stir.  Why am I writing about it in 2011?  Because it is still relevant, and I only started this blog in December of 2010.  Although most of the work could be considered "leftist," the promoters of the exhibit, START SOMA, have stated that all political viewpoints, be they left, right, or center, were displayed side-by-side, both online and in the series of world exhibitions.

 


None of the art was sold at any of the shows, although copies of the posters may still be available for sale through the websites of many of the participating artists. This was not a commercial art show, but rather a celebration of free speech and freedom of expression.  According to START SOMA, there has been no curation and absolutely no censorship of any sort - every submitted poster was included in the exhibition with no exceptions.



Artist Von Glitschka of Salem, Oregon, whose work was in "Propaganda III," writes in his blog ART BACKWASH, "One thing about propaganda art is that it seemingly never celebrates that which is good. As far as I can tell (and I may be wrong in this assumption) all the art done under the umbrella of propaganda tends to be highlighting the negative in regards to politics, social issues and the like."

'
"Propaganda III" exhibition opening in San Francisco (2007).
The Shield of Achilles blog writes, "What you have is a bizarre mix of neo-communists, historical revisionists, anti-Semites, Iranian propagandists, anarchists, 9/11 'truthers,' and the 'peace at any price' crowd ...It's ironic that only in a truly free country like ours can so much hatred be openly displayed. Due to various hate-crime laws, even most Western European nations would probably not allow an exhibition like this."

Cam BsAs (C) from Argentina.  All rights reserved.
Nightvibe (San Francisco edition) said, "The bold, striking graphic artworks depict many a struggle for justice, freedom, and peace, and the collection appeals to a diverse set of viewpoints and a wide range of emotions. The journey across time and space found in the collection of posters gives the Fourth of July holiday more context and will broaden your perspective."

Functional Ambivalent writes, "You won't agree with a lot of it. If you're like me, you won't even understand a lot of it. But the visual and graphic palette on display is stunning. It's like a primer in what's going on in the design and art world today."

Nicholas Lampert (C) from USA.  All rights reserved.
Dog Opus Blog writes, "It’s an Islamic terrorist-hugging, free and pluralistic state-hating explosion of impotent useful idiot fury. It’s San Francisco’s special way of celebrating our nation’s independence with an Anti-American July 4th...Incidentally, these clowns somehow don’t see that this sort of spectacle would be shut down with any number of violent, repressive methods in the countries they cheer lead for from here..."

Rhizome writes, "one of the most powerful tools of grassroots communication has remained essentially provincial: Printed on paper and affixed to walls with wheat paste, the propaganda poster is a medium made to stay in place. "Propaganda III" effectively questions this role by proposing a hybrid future for poster art that relies on the global reach of photo-sharing website Flickr and the universal availability of ink-jet printers..."

Art Spiegelman (C) of USA.  All rights reserved.
 Additionally, Dog Opus Blog wrote, "while there is certainly some loony Western civilization-hating subject matter of dubious design value, there is also some truly stunning, and ethically/politically centered, design work to be seen."

Taber Calderon (C) of USA.  All rights reserved.
What's good about "Propaganda III" is that art critical of the U.S. is being created and put on exhibit.  Whether or not you like it, you can see it in public and either criticize it or applaud it publicly without fear of arrest or worse.  Dissent has always been a part of our history and heritage and should never be censored.

Aiden Hughes (C) of United Kingdom.  All rights reserved.
Copyright Eric Brothers (C) 2011.  All Rights Reserved.




Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Christian Comic Book Propaganda: "Hansi: The Girl Who Loved The Swastika"



"Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika" was created by artist Al Hartley, whose fame rests with the "Archie" comic book series.  Published by Spire Christian Comics in 1976, it was one of about sixty Christian-themed comics created by Hartley, who attended a prayer meeting in 1967 and was so moved by the sermon that he became a Christian almost on the spot. 

Comic book artist Al Hartley (1921-2003)
Hartley's best known Christian comic book is "Hansi, The Girl Who Loved The Swastika," which is based upon the real-life autobiography of Maria Anne Hirschmann of the same name. "Hansi" is the story of a young girl in the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia who was happy about the German takeover of 1939 because they had brought books to read.  She becomes a fervent Nazi, saying things like, "We are nothing...The Reich is everything!" to a young German soldier lying blind in a hospital bed.  She wins an award in school for being an excellent student and is sent to Prague to become leader of the the Bund of German Girls, which was the girl's equivalent of the Hitler Youth. 

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She is put in a Russian labor camp near the end of the war, where all the women are raped at night except Hansi, who is considered "too skinny."  She escapes and gets to an American camp where surprisingly she is treated decently by the American G.I.s.  After the war, she builds a new life with her old love from the Sudetenland, but they are not happy until he brings home a bible.  They are rejuvenated by its message.  They eventually move to America, and Hansi is shocked by the decadent lifestyles but sets her mind of loving her new country, which is "one nation under God."  Hansi comes to run Christian support groups in prisons and halfway houses around California.

A page from "Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika" (1973).
Fredrik Strömberg is a comic book historian who heads the Comic Art School of Sweden. In his book, Comic Art Propaganda, he critically writes about Hansi, "we meet a girl who at first only believes in the Bible, then suddenly only believes in Mein Kampf, and then goes back to only believing in the Bible. Not much of a statement for free thinking . . ."

"The way Hansi is drawn throughout this comic is also problematic. Since she is supposed to be a pure and true 'bride of Christ,' she is not allowed to age noticeably in the comic, which is a problem when the story stretches on for decades. The real clincher is the last scene, when Hansi is giving a speech to the inmates of an American prison, retelling her life's experience and commenting that 'None of you were born then'--but still looking like she did during World War II."

The autobiography of "Hansi" that was published in 1973.
 The author of the Gone & Forgotten blog, Calamity Jon, also is critical of "Hansi" when he writes, "Hansi escapes being raped. I puzzled this one awhile - after all, wouldn't it reinforce the wrongness of her abandoning Jesus and increase her reader sympathy if she HAD been raped? But then I got the message that all the girls who HAD been raped had gotten killed - you see, the comic's saying that Hansi could never have been a pure and good Christian if she HAD been. She woulda been tainted."


This short video will show you how Hitler was welcomed in the Sudetenland in 1939, the ethnic-German enclave in Czechoslovakia where Hansi lived at the time.

 Another view of "Hansi" comes from Bradley Mason Hamlin, who writes, "Hansi’s epiphany moment comes when she leads a class of children in the pledge of allegiance. At first she feels conflicted in giving her loyalty to another country [the U.S.], you know, since things didn’t work out so well with the Nazis. Yet, when she gets to the 'one nation under God' part she realizes everything is okay. She thinks (via thought balloon): 'Those words [one nation under God] make all the difference! It's all right to love what God has blessed!' The mind control kicks in and Hansi decides to truly commit to her love for Jesus and America, despite the presence of so many hippies, because after all, they did give her that teaching job."

Copyright Eric Brothers (C) 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Image of the Brandenburg Gate on Coins and Medals

The Brandenburg gate decked out with swastikas in Nazi Berlin.
Commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II, the Gate was built by Karl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. The sculptures on the façade were struck by Johann Gottfried Schadow. It was conceived as a symbol of peace, and stands at the end of the Unter den Linden, the famous boulevard of linden trees that led to the royal residence at the river Spree.


Twelve Greek Doric columns make up the Brandenburg Gate. The Quadriga, the triumphant goddess of peace driving a four-horse chariot, sits on top of the Gate. It was crafted by Schadow. Inspiration for the Gate came from the Propylea, the gateway to the Acropolis in ancient Athens.
Ironically the Brandenburg gate, the symbol of Berlin, first appeared on a French medal commemorating Napoleon's capturing the city in 1806.

"Napoleon in Berlin" by Charles Meynier (1806).





It was Adolf Hitler who first placed the Brandenburg gate on a German coin. It was a 100 RM gold coin with Hitler in profile on the obverse. This coin is considered a pattern.

The Nazi party’s dramatic, candlelit parade celebrating Adolf Hitler’s legal ascension to chancellor of Germany in 1933 culminated at the Brandenburg Gate. In fact, it was under Hitler that a German coin (or pattern) first depicted the massive structure, 142 years after it was completed. The 1933 gold 100 Reichsmark shows a swastika behind the quadriga, with rays above. Perhaps this symbolized the New Order that Hitler and Nazism promised the German people. The obverse carries a portrait of Hitler. Twelve years later, the gate was one of only two structures remaining in Pariser Platz amid the rubble, fire and smoke of the battered capital of Hitler’s “thousand year” empire. The grand city of the kaisers became two Berlins. East Berlin served as the capital of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), surrounding the capitalist ghetto of West Berlin. The Brandenburg gate was located in the GDR and thus appeared on several East German coins, tokens and medals.
A detailed photo of the reverse of the Hitler pattern coin.

The Brandenburg gate as it appeared on GDR coins.
In 1971, Erich Honecker became the leader of the GDR, and the Brandenburg Gate returned to German coinage that year on a 5-mark piece. Production of business strikes ceased for several years, but resumed in 1979 and continued until 1990, when the GDR was swallowed up by the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Minted in an alloy of nickel and copper, the coin circulated in everyday commerce, and proof versions were struck every year except 1971, 1983 and 1985. The GDR also issued a commemorative coin in 1989 in honor of Johann Gottfried Schadow, whose sculptures grace the Brandenburg gate.

U.S. president John F. Kennedy visits the Brandenburg gate. He gave a famous speech in Berlin on June 26, 1963.
German 10-Mark proof coin commemorating the reunification of Germany in 1991 that reads, "The Brandenburg gate, symbol of German unity."
The Brandenburg Gate officially reopened on December 22, 1989. The GDR struck uncirculated and proof silver 20-mark coins on March 15, 1990, to commemorate the event. They would be the last issued by the German Democratic Republic. National elections took place three days later. The vote on German reunification: Ja!

The following year, a 10-mark commemorative coin celebrated German unity and the 200th anniversary of the completion of the Brandenburg Gate. The obverse legend translated SYMBOL OF GERMAN UNITY/THE BRANDENBURG GATE/1791/1991.


A German soldier lies dead in front of the Brandenburg gate during the Battle of Berlin (1945).


Copyright Eric Brothers (C) 2011. All Rights Reserved.