Der Stűrmer and the Propaganda Cartoons of the Third Reich
San Rafael’s Museum of International Propaganda (MIP) opened a unique Exhibition on October 23, 2019. It was created through a generous gift of Lt. Robert Leon Bru, whose priceless collection we now feature in the special exhibition, Der Stűrmer and the Propaganda Cartoons of the Third Reich.
Lt. Robert Bru who gave us the valuable artifacts he hand-collected while a prisoner of war, passed away on Thursday, October 17, 2019, at the age of 99, 6 days before we opened the Exhibition. This Friday, February 28, Lt. Bru would have turned 100! We will celebrate and honor his memory this Saturday, February 29, and invite all of you to view to visit our Museum and visit Lt. Bru’s exhibit.
Following World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany, most of the fascist anti-Semitic, anti-American and other National Socialist propaganda was destroyed by the Allies and by the defeated and dispirited German citizens. What remained was put in the Museums and in the underground archives or locked away in vaults for good. The few private collections are mostly in the hands of the former Allied soldiers, but they are disappearing fast, and often in trash.
MIP has been extremely lucky to receive one such priceless collection from a 99-year old American flyer, Robert Bru, shot down over Denmark. While in the German war prison, Mr. Bru started collecting propaganda cartoons from a German tabloid, Der Stűrmer (The Fighter), provided to the captured airmen by the Stalag prison administration. After he was liberated, he took the cartoons home with him and pasted them in a scrap book. In March 2019, after reading about the Museum of International Propaganda in the SF Chronicle, Mr. Bru generously donated his Nazi cartoon collection for the Exhibition.
The Nuremberg tabloid, Der Stűrmer (The Fighter) was the Third Reich’s premier mass appeal purveyor of the low brow blood and guts, cut-to-the-bone, “Jews Are Our Misery” message throughout Germany. Targeting the lowest disaffected classes, its propaganda power was enormous. Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels liked the paper and supported it until the end. The crass political cartoons presented in the Exhibition were Der Stűrmer’s chief draw. They were cunningly crafted by the propagandists to excuse and justify Nazis’ pathological hatred of the Jews and, later, the Allies. Once vilified and dehumanized, the “Untermenschen” (subhumans) could be imprisoned, beaten or slaughtered, without any pangs of national or personal guilt.
The Museum of International Propaganda’s Exhibition hopes to make the viewers think about the effects of propaganda on society at large, and the vital role the propagandists play to support various governments’ political objectives.