Appeal to Polish mothers

This Polish poster has a motif that had already been used by the Danish side in the 1910 plebiscite in Schleswig, but the interesting thing is that it has been changed. The Danish poster shows a boy, but in this case it is a girl, and she has been given a necklace bearing the inscription IHS. This is a monogram of the name of Jesus in Greek, sometimes interpreted in Latin as ‘Jesus Hominum Salvator’ (Jesus, saviour of mankind), and very commonly used in the Catholic Church. In her right hand, the girl is holding a matchbox as a toy and in her left hand she holds the Polish national flag with the state eagle, a symbol of the newly-formed Polish state. The text’s moving appeal, ‘Mother, think of me, vote for Poland’, is addressed to the woman as a mother: she must not frivolously fritter away her children’s future by voting for Germany.

Polish plebiscite poster. Poznań 1920. Based on a design by Thor Bøgelund. No. of copies unknown. 100 x 68 cm.

 

Do not be ensnared

A skeleton in folk costume, wearing a hatband in the Hungarian red-green-white national colours sways gently over the town of Ödenburg/Sopron, playing the violin – a symbol of Hungarian folk culture. The text at the bottom of the poster in Gothic script sends its warning: ‘Trust not in the flattering songs! Vote German!’.

Death playing the violin is thus linked to the Hungarian attempt to tempt the population in this little plebiscite area to vote for Hungary, even though this country, too, was one of the losers of the war and would therefore, like Austria, be forced to contribute to war damages.

Just as in Upper Silesia, the population here is being warned that things will go badly for them if Austria should lose the plebiscite. However, this is what actually happened: there was a majority for Hungary.

Austrian plebiscite poster, Vienna 1921. Based on a design by Ernst Kutzer (1895-1965). Printed at the behest of the Ödenburger Heimatdienst. 92 x 61 cm.

 

Think of the future

This poster plays on the fear of the future felt by the inhabitants of Burgenland (German Western Hungary). We see an area of Austria between the two important towns of Vienna and Graaz shaded in grey, with Burgenland in a somewhat lighter grey. Hungary, on the other hand, is not depicted – only a black and frightening abyss. Close to the edge of the abyss is a narrow cage in Hungarian colours and in it a man desperately rattling the bars. He is trying to escape from captivity to avoid falling into the black abyss. The message of the picture is underlined by the text: ‘Burgenlanders, Ödenburgers, mind the economic ligature. It will be your downfall!’.

With this poster, the Austrian side warn against voting for Hungary because it would mean being cut off from Austrian trade and commercial life in general. In fact, the towns Vienna and Graz got their food supplies from Burgenland.

Austrian plebiscite poster. Based on a design by H. Bleschner. No. of copies unknown. 90 x 58 cm.

 

Vote for Hungary

‘No! No! Never!’. This was the motto of the nationalist movement in Hungary after the signing of the Treaty of Tria­non in June 1920, by which the territory of the state of Hungary had been reduced by 60%. The message of this poster, white letters on a red background, is particularly effective. About this slogan there is a map of Hungary before World War I, on which are marked the areas that have been ceded. The Sopron/Ödenburg area is the smallest of these, and the Hungarians had tried to hinder the cession of it by putting in irregular soldiers to repel the Austrian gendarmes.

After the major powers had intervened, a plebiscite was held, which Hungary won with a large margin, despite Austrian claims that the country was bankrupt.

Hungarian plebiscite poster, 1920. Artist and no. of copies unknown. 63 x 45 cm.

 

Think of the native soil

Farmers were a motif used on posters in all plebiscite areas, and this was also the case in Allenstein and Marienwer­der. A farmer walking behind his harrow when working in the fields symbolises the close bonds between the people and their native soil. He stands in supplication, the palms of his hands turned towards heaven. The text supports his gesture, clearly hoping for support from on high: ‘Oh Lord, make the soil of my forefathers remain German!’.

This motif appealed to the peoples’ deep-rooted oneness with their native soil, and the continuity of the German influence in the region is so clearly presented that a decision in favour of Germany was in fact beyond doubt. The use of Gothic script on this poster, as on others, serves to emphasise the German message.

German plebiscite poster. Based on a sketch by Walter Riemer, 1920. No. of copies unknown. 94 x 69 cm.

 

Do not be enticed by Germany

In the centre of the poster we see a white skull on a black background, resting on a green snake. The image signals imminently threatening mortal danger, and the text in Polish does the same. At the top, it reads: ‘Death threatens the inhabitants of Upper Silesia if they remain in Germany!!!’. And under the skulls is printed this prayer: ‘From hunger, plague, war and German occupation, good Lord deliver us!’. This is a slightly altered quotation from a familiar Polish prayer, though the German occupation is not mentioned in the original. But linking this powerful picture with the prayer gives an almost biblical dimension to the poster.

The snake is a symbol of temptation, and here it is attempting to lure all the inhabitants of Upper Schleswig into making a fatal choice. The skull is a symbol of mortality and warns of what will happen if people do not vote for Poland. When Adam was tempted to make the wrong choice, he was driven out of Paradise; Upper Silesia must not be similarly tempted to make a wrong choice. Polish plebiscite poster. Mikolów 1921, based on a design by Stanislaw Ligoń (1879-1954). Artist and no. of copies printed unknown. 103 x 67 cm.

 

Don’t end up as cannon fodder

This very sombre plebiscite poster shows a skeleton in the red cape with a white fur border – the Polish national colours. In his right hand, the skeleton holds a bloody sword. Behind him we see a black horse with blood on its flanks and hooves. The text reads: ‘Poland needs you as cannon fodder!’, and this text, along with the image, was meant to remind people of the Polish-Russian hostilities which ran from February 1919 to March 1921.

This was a warning from the German side in the plebiscite campaign: a Polish victory would mean that the male population would become conscripts in the Polish army, and this would most likely mean death for many of them. The manic cry of the skeleton would lead to a new war. The poster has thus a very moving and urgent motif, clearly appealing to people not to vote for Poland.

German plebiscite poster 1920-21. Artist and no. of copies printed unknown. 71 x 93 cm.

 

Save your child

This exhortation to vote in the plebiscite on 11 July 1920 sends a message that cannot be misunderstood. The text is written in italics, and the motif shows how seriously the German side took this plebiscite concerning their future national affiliation.

The white Polish eagle on a red background, which has been the national symbol of Poland since the 11th century, is here presented as threatening. It is attacking a screaming, defenceless baby that raises its arm in terror to protect itself. A woman rushes in from the left to protect the howling child from the Polish eagle. The Polish side is thus presented as a vicious bird of prey, attempting to carry off what was formerly a German area. This poster is aimed directly at the population in the Marienwerder area of West Prussia (today, Kwidzyn in Poland), appealing to them to vote for Germany.

German plebiscite poster. Based on a design by Walter Riemer, 1920. No. of copies unknown. 95 x 72 cm.

 

Mind the wolf

Upper Silesia was an important plebiscite area. Before World War I, Germany had covered 20% of its weapons and ammunition requirements from here. This important industry formed part of the plebiscite campaign and is represented here by the smoking chimney in the little girl’s basket. She wears a red hood on her head and her basket bearing the legend, ‘Silesia’, is raised on high, while she looks back fearfully at the pursuing wolf. The wolf is red like the Polish flag, and on its side, to hammer the message home, it bears the Polish national coat of arms with the white eagle.

This is a German presentation of the situation of Upper Schleswig, and the motif refers to the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood and the wicked Wolf by the brothers Grimm. In the fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood is rescued and the Wolf dies, but the result of the plebiscite in Upper Silesia on 20 March 1921 turned out differently: the area was divided between Germany and Poland.

German plebiscite poster. 1920. Artist and no. of copies printed unknown. 48 x 64 cm.

 

Don’t be slaughtered by any old butcher

The fat man against the red background wears a blood-spattered apron; in a belt round his waist hangs a sheath with butcher’s knives and the inscription ‘God with us’. He is sharpening the largest of this knives. On his head he wears Prussian military headgear – a pickelhaube. Presented in this way he is the epitome of a German, and in Upper Silesia Germans were regarded as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Beside him stands a calf, straddling a crate bearing the inscription ‘Prussian independence’. The box is filled with bills for taxes and war damage reparations. The calf symbolises Upper Silesia, which has to choose between being slaughtered by Germany, or the freedom to make its own choices in Poland. The text warns that ‘only the most stupid calves choose their own butcher’. A choice for Germany would entail tax and war reparation burdens. The picture was also used as a postcard.

Polish plebiscite poster with German text. Based on a design by Stanislaw Ligoń (1879-1954). 1920. No. of copies unknown. 98 x 67 cm.

 

God will judge!

In Carinthia, the Austrian ballot papers were green and those of the SHS (the Slovenian-Croatian-Serbian State, which from 1921 became known as Yugoslavia) were white. These two colours were therefore often used in propaganda material connected with the plebiscite in Carinthia.

Here we see an angel in the form of a woman with white robes, wings and a halo. She is holding a wad of green ballot papers, which she is offering to a man with a long white beard and hair. He is wearing a cloak and his right finger is raised as a reminder to vote for the right side. So this is God receiving and passing on the ballot papers, a conclusion supported by the inscription in Slovenian: ‘Bog bo sodil!’ (God will judge).

In Carinthia, Austrians in their propaganda used not only their native language (i.e., German), but also Slovenian, the language of their opponents, which was spoken by many people in the plebiscite area. In the bottom right corner we see a black devil, holding the white SHS ballot sheet in his hand. To his great dismay, he finds himself being pushed away by green ballot papers. Austria – with God’s help – will win this plebiscite.

Austrian plebiscite poster with Slovenian text. Artist and no. of copies printed unknown. Klagenfurt 1920. 80 x 59 cm.

 

Know your enemies

This poster was designed by Maksim Gaspari, a well-known painter in Slovenia. He had previously illustrated Slovenian folk tales. In 1918-20 he threw himself energetically into the plebiscite campaign and painted a large number of pictures calling for a national awakening, as may be seen from the motif of this poster.

The colours green and white were also used in the Slovenian campaign. Here, the victory of Yugoslavia (the SHS state) is depicted. A man in national costume tears up a green Austrian ballot sheet while treading on a green lindworm with a wreath of oak leaves around its neck.

The oak leaves identify German influence, whilst the lindworm is the logo of the town of  Klagenfurt, used here to symbolise Germany-Austria. Lying on the ground, the lindworm cries ‘Alas, Alack’, thus signalling his defeat.

A woman in traditional folk costume, flowers in her right hand and a white ballot sheet in her left, raises her arms to greet the man, rejoicing over the defeat of Germany-Austria.

Yugoslavian plebiscite poster. Based on a design by Maksim Gaspari (1883-1980), 1920. No. of copies unknown. 42 x 54 cm.

 

Don’t be an ass

Both the Polish and the German sides used donkeys in their posters. This one is in human shape, wearing a uniform with an emblem on the breast in the form of a heavy black cross, surrounded by white. This uniform, together with the emblem, indicates that the donkey is German. It is standing arms akimbo, mouth open. ‘I vote German’, brays the figure, presenting himself to Polish eyes as a stiff-necked, stupid donkey. Only stupid people would prefer Germany to Poland. This plebiscite poster was used by the Polish side at the plebiscite in Upper Silesia, but is not known to have been used in West and East Prussia. So far, no Polish plebiscite posters have been found from the latter plebiscite area.

 

Proclamation

The International Commission, colloquially known as CIS, published all its decrees in two languages, German and Danish. Her we see the decree with the most important regulations for the plebiscites.

 

The good of the people is peace on earth

”Folkets vel er fred på Jorden”

Danish commemorative publication on the occasion of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. It was presumably printed immediately after the signing, when a plebiscite in 1919 still seemed likely. The publication expresses the Danish view that the Treaty of Versailles was a just peace treaty, and prints pictures of the Schleswig Wars alongside pictures of those involved in the Versailles peace conference and of Danish-minded politicians from Southern Jutland.

‘The good of the people is peace on earth’.

 

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.

 

Denmark calls!

This poster is a virtuoso performance: everything Danish – fair and friendly – is contrasted with everything German – dark and threatening. The text carries the message further: Danish national identity is personified by an image of all that is nearest and dearest – the relationship between mother and child.

The designer, Thor Bøgelund, achieved this emotionally powerful, though extremely tendentious, effect by juxtaposing ‘Mother Denmark’, symbol of the Danish people, with the Eagle, symbol of the German Reich. A more honest use of national symbols would have been to juxtapose Mother Denmark and Germania as symbols of the two peoples; or to use the symbols of the two states – the German Eagle and the Lions from the Danish coat of arms.

The imagery of the poster appealed directly to feelings: choose what is fair, warm and mild; choose the flag and the woman! The mother is calling her children to her; urging those looking at the poster to choose as their forefathers did. Thus the message of the poster is: follow the dictates of history and the pull of your own heart. In this way you will walk in the footsteps of the ancestors.

Danish plebiscite poster by Thor Bøgelund, text by Hans Ahlmann. 5,250 copies. 92 x 64 cm.

 

Paying taxes in Denmark and Germany

Imagery and words were used to present the high standard of living in neutral Denmark and the misery of war-torn Germany, often considerably simplifying the facts. One of the most extreme examples of propaganda is this pro-Danish poster for the plebiscite campaign in Zone 2: an elegantly-dressed citizen with white spats and a bowler hat is contrasted with a bareheaded, ragged proletarian in slippers. The former flourishes his bulging purse, dropping his contribution, his shining coins, into the already overfilled moneybag earmarked for the care of children and the old. The proletarian, on the other hand, whose pockets are empty, can only let his last banknote flutter down into the bottomless sack marked ‘War Damages’.

No other poster in the campaign urged people so forcefully to vote for financial reasons. The designer of the poster was an artist from Copenhagen, Harald Slott-Møller. He was eager in the cause of Flensburg, that is, he wanted Flensburg, no matter what the result of the campaign, to be reunited with Denmark.

Danish plebiscite campaign, drawn by Harald Slott-Møller. Only used in Zone 2 and with German text. 94 x 64 cm.

 

We are German

Paul Haase, brought from Berlin to Flensburg during the plebiscite campaign in Zone 2, designed this ‘Knight poster’ based on Albrecht Dürer’s engraving, ‘Knight, Death and the Devil’, which at the time would have been familiar to any child at school. At a time seemingly filled with endless problems, the Knight was a symbol of German loyalty and endurance.

This poster, done in a murky style with broad swathes of colour, is clearly very different from the far more appealing aquarelle type style of Danish posters. The grim, black Knight raises his (almost too large) right hand to swear an oath and admonish people to stand guard around ‘the inheritance of the forefathers’. In his mailed and clenched left fist he bears a Schleswig-Holstein flag over his shoulder.

To complement the visual statement, Haase chose a text which reproduced ‘Eden’ from Friedrich Schiller’s drama ‘Wilhelm Tell’, though adapted to the purpose at hand. The artist replaced the word ‘free’ with ‘German’, and had no reason to fear that he might be misunderstood, since Schiller’s drama, and especially the text of ‘Eden’, was familiar to all Germans at that time. Both the Knight and swearing of the oath were central symbols in the German national consciousness. Danish-minded people did not understand the poster, and indeed found it threatening. The Knight was popularly called ‘Scourge of the Danes’.

German plebiscite poster, drawn by Paul Haase. No. of copies unknown. 80 x 57 cm.

 

Uwe Jens Lornsen speaks

This German poster shows the head of Uwe Jens Lornsen encircled by a wreath of flame. This man was one of the pioneers of the Schleswig-Holstein movement, and in his work, ‘Über das Verfassungs­werk in Schleswigholstein’ (1830), he called for the separation of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein from the Kingdom of Denmark. It is therefore understandable that, in a situation when the whole Schleswig-Holstein question was to the fore, he was revived to be the spokesman for the German cause in the plebiscite campaign. His clear and resolute gaze signals to the public that his cause – that Schleswig should belong to Germany – was crystal clear. Down to the last doubter, people were to be convinced that that the only choice for a Schleswig-Holsteiner was to vote for ‘The German Fatherland’. This message is further underlined by the fact that under the picture of Lorn­sen there is a row of hands raised as if swearing allegiance; the solemn promise of these hands has already fulfilled his exhortation to show fealty to the German Fatherland. The picture has a religious undertone.

German plebiscite poster, designer and number of copies unknown. Published in Kiel on 25 February 1920. 101 x 65.5 cm.

 

Hold fast to the home soil

This poster was made by Alex(ander) Eckener, a painter and graphic artist from Flensburg. Along with a poster by J. Holtz showing a rather gloomy version of the Schleswig coat of arms, this poster was used by the German side in Zone 2 in February and the beginning of March med 1920.

The motif was inspired by a painting called ‘Eden’ by the Swiss painter, Ferdinand Hodler. A Frisian raises his right hand as if swearing an oath, left hand on his heart. Behind him, their hands lifted, too, as if swearing an oath, stands a tightly-packed group of men. The eye of the beholder glides away over a stylised marshland landscape towards an remote farmhouse in the background; on the right, separated off by a stretch of water, lies a small harbour with boats and a church.

As in ‘Eden’, the Frisian and the group of men behind him confirm their right to remain citizens of Schleswig and therefore German – a right forged by history.

German plebiscite poster, drawn by Alex(ander) Eckener. No. of copies unknown. Exists with both Danish and German text. 78 x 56 cm.

 

We will harvest what we ourselves have sown

One of the most popular German posters – designed by Paul Haase – shows a sower who asks his German countrymen the question, both rhetorical and exhortative, whether Denmark was to harvest the fruits of centuries of German work in Schleswig, if Zone 2 were lost?

In this case, Haase quite deliberately chose the picture of a white-bearded old farmer who, judging from the determined look in his eye, was not ready to hand over his native soil – his livelihood and his life’s work – to foreigners without a struggle. On his head he wore the skipper’s cap so typical of Schleswig-Holstein.

This poster was not aimed only at the rural population, but to all those in Schleswig who felt they could identify themselves with this sower and his clear, simple message: the home soil, passed for generations from father to son, must remain in German hands.

German plebiscite poster, drawn by Paul Haase. No. of copies unknown. 76 x 54 cm.

 

Southern Jutland recovered

Southern Jutland recovered

For many Danes, the image of Mother Denmark standing on the bridge over the River Kongeå to welcome home the daughter that had been forcibly torn from her is the picture of the reunification.

The text was written in December 1918 by the poet, Henrik Pontoppidan. This is a stanza from a poem with four verses. Pontop­pidan is best known as an author for his social realism, but he was so moved by the prospect of Southern Jutland returning to Denmark that he fell the need to express his feelings more lyrically. The painter, Joakim Skov­gaard, was able to create and illustration that matched the tone and the content of the poem.

Representing the fatherland as a brave and caring mother figure and Southern Jutland as her daughter is a tradition that goes back to the first half of the 19th century, and the symbol was very popular in Denmark around 1920.

Joakim Skovgaard attempted to present the archetypal Danish rolling landscape with a farm complete with flagpole and a windmill. The Mother raises her hand to heaven to thank God for the happy return of her daughter.

Danish plebiscite poster, drawn by Joakim Skovgaard, text by Henrik Pontoppidan. 83 x 58.5 cm. 10,000 copies.

 

We are one people

The artist, Rasmus Christiansen, designed plebiscite posters open to different interpretations. This poster offers a birds-eye view of Denmark with clouds covering that part of Southern Jutland that lay outside the plebiscite zones. The plane provides a positive association to technology and progress. The image – combined with the witty text – implies that the those living within the area shown are a common people. And this is correct! But it might easily encourage the belief that quite a different set of people lived in the overclouded area father south. And this is not correct! There have been Danish settlements down to the Schlei-Danevirke line since ancient times, and yet a section of the population here shifted from Danish to German identity at the beginning of the 19th century.

However, the picture could not show the whole of Southern Jutland and still use the same text: the argument would be hollow, because even though there was a ‘common people’ down to the Schlei-Danevirke line, by far the majority of the population of this area did not want to be part of a ‘common land’ with Denmark. The poster therefore contains a statement that would be void if the clouds further south were dispersed.

Danish plebiscite poster, drawn by Ras­mus Christiansen. 2,000 copies. Only used in Zone 2. 74 x 64 cm.

 

Vote Danish

In 1920, flags were used as one of the most effective and eye-catching instruments of propaganda, in an attempt to appeal to feelings and the subconscious.

This poster, like many of the other plebiscite posters drawn by Thor Bøgelund, puts forward no arguments for voting Danish; the message is carried by irrational elements. The image shows a Danish flag (Dannebrog) descending into a field of corn – a hidden reference to the myth of the origin of Dannebrog, descending from heaven at the battle of Re­val in Estonia in 1219. Many people at the time would have understood this reference, as the 700th anniversary of the event had been celebrated in 1919.

The landscape is the very essence of what was seen to be special for Denmark: a field of ripe corn with the silvery-blue sea in the background and a little house with its flagpole sheltering in the lee of a hill. Nothing could be more archetypically Danish.

Danish plebiscite poster, drawn by Thor Bøgelund. 5,000 copies. 92 x 64 cm.

 

An appeal to Danish mothers

This poster was printed in large numbers, both in the Danish and German text versions, in full size and in quarter size.

The poor, somewhat frightened boy is barefoot, clothes patched and worn, and all he has to play with is an empty matchbox. A heart-rending picture of a state of poverty that must not be allowed to last. And indeed, the boy asks his mother to do something: ‘Think of me, vote Danish’.

The artist, Thor Bøgelund, borrowed this motif from a German poster used in connection with the election to the Reichstag in 1919. The motif with the little boy has moreover been regularly used in connection with other elections: the plebiscite in the Saar in 1935, for example, and elections to the county council in Flensburg in 1948.

The last time it was used was in June 1992 in connection with the Danish referendum on the EC (Maastricht Treaty): the boy asks his mother to vote against.

Danish plebiscite poster, drawn by Thor Bøgelund, Danish and German text versions. 7,500 copies in all. Exists in two sizes: 46 x 32 cm and 92 x 64 cm.

 

Vote German

This poster was the most widely used on the German side. It has a very simple design, using the three Schleswig-Holstein colours with the word ‘German’ repeated in each colour. This poster was developed as the result of force majeure: at the end of 1919, it was rumoured that the International Commission aimed to forbid flying flags from flagpoles, or using them as decorations on houses and railway wagons. The Germans therefore put in a request for the approval of this poster and were given permission to print 50,000! The flag prohibition was finally proclaimed on 6 March and on 8 March the Commission’s German advisers resigned in protest at this decision. However, the blue-white-red poster could be used unhindered. The flag prohibition was made less stringent as early as 11 March, but by this time the poster was already hanging in rows everywhere. The long, narrow format also made it very suitable for hanging in the windows of private houses – though this was forbidden.

German plebiscite poster, drawn by Johann Holtz. 50,000 copies. 60 x 40 cm.

 

Appeal to German mothers

‘The Boy with the red Sweater’ was drawn by Paul Haase, who had earlier done ‘The Black Rider’ and ‘The Sower’. This poster, too, was printed in a large edition, and was undoubtedly meant to counter the Danish Poster, ‘Mother, vote Danish’. Looking straight ahead, the happy boy is holding a huge Schleswig-Holstein flag that swirls around him before disappearing at the lower edge of the picture. A black-white-red bow in the colours of the old Reich adorns his sweater. On top of his pageboy haircut he wears a cap with a tassel, somewhat reminiscent of the one worn by ‘The German Michel’. The large swathes of strong, bright colours give a sense of urgency. Just as urgent is the boy himself, urging his parents’ generation to ‘be German’ or ‘remain German’, like himself. German plebiscite poster by Paul Haase as a counter to the Danish poster ‘Mother, vote Danish’.   No. of copies unknown. 77.5 x 54 cm.

 

(Dansk) De der blev tilbage – Dansksindede i Flensborg

 

 

Alfred V. Jensen: ‘Dannebrog hejses på flaghøjen ved Dybbøl Mølle’ (‘Dannebrog is raised on the flag mound at Dybbøl Mill’). (Painted 1921)

Dannebrog is hoisted at Dybbøl Hill. On 11 July 1920, before the reunification festivities at the Dybbøl Redoubts, a tall flagpole was erected on Dybbøl Hill near Dybbøl Mill. It was the tallest flagpole in Denmark. Special permission was given to fly the Danish Splitflag (swallow-tailed flag) here, and Danish-Americans in Chicago donated a large Dannebrog in silk to fly at this place of symbols and memories. This painting immortalises the raising of the flag on 11 July 1921, the anniversary of the reunification festivities in the King’s Redoubt. The painting was done from a photograph.

 

Peter Wilhardt: ‘Danske soldater marcherer forbi Dybbøl Mølle 5. maj 1920’ (‘Danish soldiers march past Dybbøl Mill 5 May 1920’). (Painted 1921)

Danish soldiers at Dybbøl Hill. Reunification was effectuated gradually over several months. One  very special day indeed was 5 May, when Danish troops moved into Zone 1 to replace the French and British troops. The extensive German naval base in Sønderborg was converted into a barracks for Danish infantry. Immediately after their arrival, the soldiers marched from here over to Dybbøl Hill to lay wreaths at the common graves of Danish soldiers. This was the first time Danish soldiers had been at Dybbøl since 1864. Many people accompanied the march, and the painting shows a veteran of 1864 deeply moved by this event.

 

(Dansk) Spækarmadaens afrejse

 

 

Alfred V. Jensen: Christian 10.s Ridt over den gamle Grænse ved Taps ind i Sønderjylland den 10. juli 1920. (Christian X’s ride over the old border at Taps into Southern Jutland on 10 July 1920′). (Painted 1920-23)

The King on his white horse. This picture shows one of the most formal and heavily symbolic events of with the reunification festivities. The King had agreed to fulfil the old prophecy that Southern Jutland would become Danish again on the day the Danish King came riding over the border on a white horse.

There was no white horse in the royal stables, but there was one at Visborggård Manor near Hadsund. This horse, which bore the name ‘Malgré Tout’, was transported to Taps just north of Christiansfeld. Here the King got out of his car, mounted the horse, and rode the first kilometre into Southern Jutland on his milk-white steed to the joyous acclaim of the assembled throng. A memorial stone has been placed at the spot where the King mounted the horse.

Afterwards, no one else was allowed to ride the white horse, and it grazed in green pastures until its death in 1922. Like the steed of an ancient chieftain, the horse interred in a high burial mound at Visborggård Manor. On a stone the following text is inscribed: ‘The King over the border I proudly bore, when Southern Jutland became Danish once more’.

Before the burial, one of the horse’s hooves was cut off and silver-plated. It was presented to Christian X as a memento of the great day and stands to this day on the desk in Christian X’s office  at Amalienborg. It bears the same text as the memorial stone on the horse’s grave.

The horse’s name, ‘Malgré Tout’, means ‘Despite Everything’, and many contemporaries interpreted the name as an expression of the fact that all ended well for Southern Jutland – despite everything.

 

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