Denmark can feed all its inhabitants

From a German point of view, this is a typical Danish appeal to material things – a poster implying that Denmark, in contrast to Germany, had plenty of corn and could sustain the population, whether city or country dwellers. This poster exploited the weak position of Germany after the war.

From a Danish point of view, the poster expresses social solidarity, and typifies the nation as a community. The text is a quotation from a song by the Danish poet, Jeppe Aakjær, praising the fatherland: ‘Look around a summer’s day’. You need to know the poem to understand the message of the poster. It presents Denmark as a small, peaceful land of farmers with no great social divisions. The song was written in 1904.

Danish plebiscite poster by Thor Bøgelund, text by Jeppe Aakjær. 5,000 copies. 49 x 27.5 cm.

 

The partition of Schleswig is painful for all

 

The right of peoples to self-determination

The plebiscite was an outcome of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which contained a section stating that the German-Danish border should be determined on the basis of the right of peoples to self-determination, with reference to the principle of nationality.

Only a small section of the propaganda material dealt with this topic. On the poster shown here, however, this basic idea was emphasised, and the most important phrases are highlighted by a deliberate use of colours: ‘The People’s Right, Southern Jutlanders, Demand your Right’.

This poster had the largest edition of all Danish posters, and was pasted on telephone poles throughout Zones 1 and 2.

Danish plebiscite poster by Thor Bøgelund. 30,000 copies. 105 x 40 cm.

 

The partition of Schleswig is painful for all

J. Holtz, a graphic artist from Flensburg, born in Tønder, designed the first poster used by the German side leading up to the plebiscite in Zone 2. From the middle of January 1920 (and for many weeks afterwards), it was in evidence in the streets, especially in Flensburg, and was also used as a postcard.

The motif and the text – both in Danish and in German – appealed to the ‘Schleswig mindset’ of those entitled to vote. The imminent partition of Schleswig was presented as the brutal tearing apart of the thousand-year-old Duchy, flying in the face of history. The poster simply ignored the fact that the Duchy of Schleswig only became independent in the 13th century.

German plebiscite poster, only used in Zone 2. Designed by Johann Holtz. No. of copies unknown. Exists with both Danish and German text. 38 x 29.5 cm.

 

Secret ballot

At first sight, this poster is quite neutral: it simply points out that the plebiscite is a secret ballot. From the Danish point of view it was important to stress that no one should be able to put pressure on those entitled to vote. Germans, however, understood the poster as a message: the secret ballot meant that in the difficult situation Germany was in after World War I, people could side with Denmark unnoticed by family, friends and neighbours.

Danish plebiscite poster, only used in Zone 2. Drawn by Ha­rald Slott-Møller. No. of copies unknown. 86 x 67 cm.

 

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