The Third Reich
Nazi Propaganda

1935-1938

 

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  • Hubert Lanzinger
  • 1935
 

Of all the images produced by the propagandists of the Third Reich, this poster and painting is one of the most unusual and arresting. It was painted by Hubert Lanzinger shortly after the remarkable triumph of the Saarland Vote to return to Germany. In that election, supervised by an international military presence, primarily Italian and British soldiers, more than 91% of the population voted to join Germany.

This spectacular result gratified Hitler immensely, who realized that he now possessed an invincible weapon -- popular German nationalism, especially among Germans living outside of Germany. Privately he scoffed at French Politicians who had accepted the electoral results and evacuated the Saarland within two months. He would never have done that, he insisted.

This poster shows Hitler in the dress of a medieval knight, riding a horse and bearing the Swastika flag. The image is extremely convoluted. Hitler never appeared on horseback, and his bared head does not at all fit the Aryan image so beloved by German illustrators. Moreover it is unclear exactly what the pose represents.

But to contemporary Germans, I suspect, it represented their restored pride -- first in adopting an independent foreign policy by leaving the League of Nations rather than endure second-class status, and now the restoration of the unity of the Reich, so badly truncated by the Treaty of Versailles.

The poster is untitled, but is usually referred to as Hitler the Standard Bearer, that is the knight representing the German Reich.

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