The Wagner Journal

Jonas Karlsson, Wagnerian Iconography in the ‘Kladderadatsch’, 1914–1944

Jonas Karlsson, Wagnerian Iconography in the ‘Kladderadatsch’, 1914–1944

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November 2016, Volume 10, Number 3, 40–57.

Founded in Berlin during the revolutionary turmoil of 1848, the Kladderadatsch – a colloquial term roughly translatable as ‘big crash’ – reflected on the political developments in Germany for more than ninety years, until its cessation in 1944. Appearing on a weekly basis, the magazine maintained the same basic format throughout its existence, printing humorous cartoons (at first in black-and-white, later in colour) intermingled with satirical verses and jocular musings on current events. Its political outlook was liberal at first, but this changed radically with time. When Bismarck became Chancellor, the Kladderadatsch turned from an earlier critic to an – on the whole – avid admirer, as a consequence becoming more conservative in its views. In 1909, a new editor steered the journal even farther towards jingoistic nationalism, which reached its apex with the outbreak of World War I. During the Weimar Republic, the Kladderadatsch remained sharply pro-German, resenting deeply the perceived injustices of the Treaty of Versailles. It was perhaps only natural, then, that the journal would greet the emergence of Adolf Hitler with enthusiasm, and that it would end its days ignominiously as yet another propaganda organ for the Third Reich.

As chance would have it, two of the principal early collaborators of the Kladderadatsch, Wilhelm Scholz and Ernst Dohm, were ardent Wagnerians, who came into contact with the composer personally.

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