Tuesday 24 October 2017

Children of the Fatherland

It would seem that growing up in the Weimar Republic was an unusually hazardous experience – danger lurked around every corner and only the most alert and agile escaped unscathed. These trade cards were issued by the makers of Echte-Wagner margarine with the worthy object of raising awareness of the perils of childhood. Multiple threats to life and limb are described here – a world of icy streets with out-of-control horses and a place where a juvenile kite-flyer is electrocuted. Equally improbably a small boy exits a train at speed when the carriage door spontaneously swings open – the consternation of the bourgeois gent with his newspaper is balanced by the indifference of his wife. For the illustrator involved it was not their finest hour – unconvincing clumsily drawn figures frozen in immobility. Nowhere more apparent than the spine-chilling tableau of target-shooting gone badly wrong. A dart has missed its mark and struck a hapless bystander in the eye – her inscrutable assailant makes no effort to help while his companion prepares to shoot as if nothing has happened. Somehow the ineptitude of the artist has inadvertently intensified the horror of the event we are witnessing.

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