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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Great art work. What a wonderful and creative way to help kids know the truth about God and the state of the world we live in!


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