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German History in Documents and Images
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"Bismarck Unmasked" (1879)
Caricaturists could be gentle or ruthless in depicting the weapons used by Bismarck to combat the socialist “threat.” This woodcut, which is frequently reproduced under the title “Bismarck Unmasked” [“Bismarck ohne Maske”], appeared in the socialist journal Der wahre Jacob in 1879. Among the targets of the artist’s ire are (from top to bottom): Bismarck’s tariff policies (especially the duties on foreign grain, which increased the price of bread), the Anti-Socialist Law of 1878, the provisions in that law for imposing martial law on cities allegedly threatened by Social Democratic agitation, Bismarck’s use of funds sequestered from the ruling house of Hanover to bribe sycophantic journalists, police spies, the banishment of SPD agitators from their home districts, antisemitic propaganda (“Hep Hep”), the wars of 1866 and 1870 and the Ems Dispatch, the muzzling of free speech, militarism, and the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf [cultural struggle]. The artist was Robert Holoch and the original title of this drawing was Study of a Modern Cranium: The Father of the First Revolution Bill [Moderne Schädelstudie. Der Vater der ersten Umsturzvorlage]. Source: “Bismarck ohne Maske,” Der wahre Jacob. Illustrierte Zeitschrift für Satire, Humor und Unterhaltung. Berlin: Dietz, 1879.