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  • 1919

I interrupt a series of Free Corps recruiting posters to insert this placard posted in early 1919 apparently in Berlin. It has not text, except the notation at the bottom:


It shows a returning German soldier, home after the lost war and still in uniform and carrying his rifle. But instead of peace and home-coming, the young man finds that his mother has been killed in the bloody domestic fighting that accompanied the birth of the Republic.

In the background, we see advancing German troops on the left, and fleeing civilians on the right, some of whom have fallen in the street while others cower in panic.

From this graphical presentation, it seems clear that this is an anti-army, anti-Free Corps poster. The emotional response it demands is one of horror for the slain mother, and the dead and dying civilians in the background. There is also a strong demand for sympathy for the young man, and not only because he has found his mother dead.

From his dress and location, it appears as if he has come home as part of the army which had agreed to support Ebert's government, and suppress the Sparakist/Communist Soviets. It appears as if in the middle of this action, the young boy suddenly realizes that one of the "radicals" he is attacking is his own mother.

He drops his rifle in both sorrow and despair. And the whole poster becomes a savage criticism of government, military, and politics.

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