Henri Zislin (F)

Henri Zislin was born in the city of Mulhouse in the province of Alsace (France) in 1875 and died in Paris (France) in 1958. It is significant to his later work during World War One that Zislin was born and raised in that city when it was officially known by its Germanized name of "Mülhausen" and the province of Alsace as "Elsaß".  This was due to the fact that Alsace and Lorraine had been annexed by Germany as a result of France's loss in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. The victory of Prussia in that war lead directly to the fall of the French Second Empire and the abdication of Emperor Napoleon III, the proclamation of the German Empire in 1871 at the French palace of Versailles, and the loss of these two provinces to Germany.

Zislin established himself when still quite young as a journalist and cartoonist, primarily focusing upon local political events and activities in "Elsaß" region. By the turn of the century however, Zislin had become more pointedly political and his work became focused as an opponent of pan-Germanism and the mobilization of Alsatian resistance against German imperial rule. His work assumed a decidedly propagandistic tone in order to agitate for a return of the province to France and to protest perceived economic exploitation of the region by solely German interests. Zislin produced pamphlets and published in newspapers and assumed a reputation as a sharp caricaturist and cartoonist for regional interests. It should be appreciated that prior to WWI opposition to imperial rule was not defined solely along French and German ethnic lines. There was also a high degree of regional particularism, and Elsaß, in common with many of the imperial states (including the Kingdom of Bavaria), consistently protested the political and social dominance of Prussia within the Empire.  Since Prussia owed her emergence as a major power in Europe and then the Empire to her army, it is not surprising that opposition to Germany in 1914 was often articulated as opposition to Prussian militarism. 
"Militarism" was decried by critics both inside and outside Germany as:
                                     "that particular Prussian disease".
The set of cards shown here certainly reflect that anti-Prussian militarism theme. On the eve of the Great War and continuing during its course, Henri Zislin produced some of the most biting caricatures attacking the Germans. Not many of these are believed to have been made into postcards, however.

Pictured on this page are a set of ten color drawings which ridicule both the evil and shallow nature of the German military and its leadership. The image of the bloody German god with corpses on a plate like German sausages, is perhaps one of the most decisively rendered indictments of German militarist philosophy produced during the war. The shallowness of the German character is shown again and again as the German military is portrayed as interested only in feeding their base appetites for food, drink and women. This banality of the ranks is contrasted with the rank evil and bloodthirsty nature of the higher leadership up to and including the Kaiser. As one ascends the ranks from the common soldier, "the German" is revealed as progressing from banality of character to outright evil. The set pictured below are entitled " l'Armée allemande" (the German Army) and were published in 1915 by P.J. Gallais & Cie., Paris. The last postal cards known to have been produced with Zislin's work were published around 1940, and reflect a repetition of the same events: German militarism and the occupation of Alsace-Lorraine. These later cards however, produced when Zislin was 65 years of age, lack the incisive insight and cruelty of his work during World War One

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zislin01.jpg (23085 bytes)

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Le soldat

Le sous-officier

Le lieutenant

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Le commandant

Le général

Le sinistre vieillard
comte Zeppelin

von Tirpitz

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Le Kronprinz

Le mauvais génie

Le vieux Dieu

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