MUNICH — MunichNOW Politics) — From the advent of the first pre-historical election campaign, slogans, symbols, songs, and signs have all shared the same goal of getting the message across efficiently, eloquently and effectively.
While many other countries have moved to more modern means, in Germany the methods remain more traditional.
This comes as no surprise. Germany, the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg and his revolutionary printing press, remains a final bastion of the printed word in the developed world. A prime example of this is in the multitude of political posters that inundate cities all across Germany every four years, and Munich is no exception.
MunichNOW takes a look at political street posters that have lined our streets since the days of Hindenburg.
The democratic process began in Germany from the smoldering ruins of World War I. This period is known as the Weimar Republic. The kaiser was gone, and elections finally took
place. A struggle for the moderate middle began from both ends of the political spectrum –and the ‘Golden Age’ of political posters commenced.
Art imitates life. Dadaism, that short-lived movement of nonsensical art (1916-1922), reflected the disarray, turbulence and zeitgeist of interwar Germany. The main political parties tried to convince voters that they had the key to security.
Shades of the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) movement, are also represented in the flowing lines and ‘whiplash’ effect of various posters from the interwar years. Beyond the message, form still played an important part in those first political posters.
The poster at the top shows in dramatic graphic form how only Hindenberg could win over the various parties and movements in Germany that took hold after the Great War.
The graphic of Hinderberg in the lower photo is on a “Litfaßsaüle”, or a kiosk to non-Germans.
Advertising columns were invented by the German printer Ernst Litfaß in 1854. Therefore it is known as Litfaßsäule (Litfaß column) in Germany, and can be found all over the
country advertising mostly concerts and shows these days.
The period after the first world war was one of turbulence and economic difficulty throughout Europe. Paul von Hindenberg was the President of Germany from 1925 to 1934 and these posters show the concern with the growing Communist movement.
An election announcement poster to elect the constituent German national assembly
on January 19th, 1919. It reads: “Workers, citizens, peasants, soldiers, all people of Germany unite in the national assembly”.
The design is by Cesar Klein (1876-1954), one of the founders of the Socialist Art Movement “Arbeitsrat für Kunst” or “The Workers’ Council for Art”, and is an excellent example of this style. There are also hints of the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) ‘whiplash’ effect, defined by flowing lines and curves.
Elections to the Bavarian National Assembly on 12 January 1919, the Bolsheviks are shown as a mysterious and powerful force from the east, bearing down on Munich and Bavaria. “Bayern, der Bolschewik geht um!” (Bavarians, the Bolshevik is going around!). Election poster of the Bayerische Volkspartei (Bavarian People’s Party).
Reading newspapers outside the newspaper building in 1920’s Berlin. Note the rows of political posters on the wall about the newspaper pages posted on the wall.
Also note the three men in the doorway.
In Munich the Münchner Merkur and TZ were placed on the inside of windows everyday at Bayerstrasse 16, near the Central Station. When there were big stories and the weather is pleasant locals gather in small groups and peer at the papers.
— end of Part 1
Watch for Part 2 on Wednesday, Sept 20th.