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Eastern Europe, a "simpl" explanation

The moment one caught a glimpse of those flashing teeth, one was well-advised to make haste in the opposite direction; for, as the reading public of early 20th century Germany was eminently aware, the bright red hound gracing the covers of the satirical magazine Simplicissimus was by no means selective in its dietary proclivities. As a result of its ferocious criticism of political and social developments domestically and abroad, Simplicissimus won recognition far beyond the borders of Germany, and was, in its day, a must-read for anyone interested in trends in public opinion in Germany. Within the scope of the project "Eastern Europe, a 'simpl' explanation" the students of the Master's program in Eastern European Studies at the University of Munich and the University of Regensburg have taken a second look at the image of Eastern Europe in that famous Munich satirical magazine. The authors direct their attentions primarily towards stereotypical representations of Eastern Europe in Simplicissimus over the half century of the magazine’s existence, and in doing so, invite the reader on a journey into the world of the typical bourgeois reader of the period. Though the uncouthness and frequent luridness of the depictions may strike the contemporary reader as the relic of a more suspicious, less enlightened era, we are entreated to reflect on whether our own preconceptions of the region are really any more advanced. Whether it be fantastical images of "wild Czechs", "brave Romanians", "blind tsars", or "Polish yappers" – the students from Munich and Regensburg dare to approach the vicious bulldog just as fearlessly as the latter threw itself on its targets during its fifty-year existence.

 

Picture credits

Einleitung: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Plakat für Simplicissimus „Teufel tanzt mit hoher Kunst“, 1896, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain | Die Geschichte des Simplicissimus und Einordnung der Essays: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Dies ist das Hundevieh, in: Simplicissimus, 4.4.1905, Jg. 10, Nr. 1, S. 1, gemeinfrei | Nikolaus II. und die russischen Krisenjahre 1904–1907: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Russischer Frühling, in: Simplicissimus, 6.5.1902, Jg. 7, Nr. 6, S. 41, gemeinfrei | Balkanismus an der Person Petar I. Karađorđević: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Serbische Königskrönung, in: Simplicissimus, 7.7.1903, Jg. 8, Nr. 15, S. 113, geimenfrei | Die deutsch-rumänischen Beziehungen und das Rumänienbild 1914–1918: Thöny, Eduard: Rumänische Dämmerung, in: Simplicissimus, 17.10.1916, Jg. 21, Nr. 29, S. 355 gemeinfrei | Die Antwort des Simplicissimus auf die Kriegsschuldfrage: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Im Balkan-Blutmeer, in: Simplicissimus, 13.7.1914, Jg. 19, Nr. 15, S. 248, gemeinfrei | Die Bärenmetapher während des Russischen Bürgerkriegs 1917–1921: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Wilson der Demokrat, in: Simplicissimus, 13.8.1918, Jg. 23, Nr. 20, S. 233, gemeinfrei | Osteuropäische Tierbilder im Simplicissimus: Schilling, Erich: Roosevelt und der Bolschewismus, in: Simplicissimus, 3.3.1943, Jg. 48, Nr. 9, S. 129, gemeinfrei | Die deutsch-polnischen Beziehungen in der Zwischenkriegszeit: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Polen, in: Simplicissimus, 5.11.1918, Jg. 23, Nr. 32, S. 397, gemeinfrei | Der Aufbau von Nationalstaaten in Polen und Tschechoslowakei: Schilling, Erich: Tschechiens Aufstieg, in: Simplicissimus, 1.4.1924, Jg. 29, Nr. 1, S. 4, gemeinfrei | Die Darstellung Polens und seiner "Patrone" in der Zwischenkriegszeit: Schilling, Erich: John Bull und der polnische Adler, in: Simplicissimus, 21.9.1939, Jg. 44, Nr. 20, S. 229, gemeinfrei | Das Bild osteuropäischer Juden* im "Simplicissimus": Heine, Thomas Theodor: Polonisierung Westpreußens, in: Simplicissimus, 23.9.1902, Jg. 7, Nr. 26, S. 201, gemeinfrei | Der 'deutsche Osten' in der Karikatur: Heine, Thomas Theodor: Die Böhmische Hundeswut, in: Simplicissimus, 14.12.1908, Jg. 13, Nr. 37, S. 621, gemeinfrei | Wolgadeutsche in der Bildpropaganda der Zwischenzeit: Schilling, Erich: Minderheitenschutz, in: Simplicissimus, 7.10.1934, Jg. 39, Nr. 28, S. 335, gemeinfrei | Britsch-sowjetische Beziehungen zu Beginn des Unternehmens Barbarossa: Schilling, Erich: Rückzug, in: Simplicissimus, 16.7.1941, Jg. 46, Nr. 29, S. 451, gemeinfrei