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German History in Documents and Images
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"To Use a Needle..." (September 1866)
This caricature by Cham appeared in the French journal Le Charivari in September 1866. Like Daumier’s cartoon “The New Gulliver,” it expresses both French opinion and anti-Prussian sentiment in southern Germany. A soldier wearing the universal symbol of Prussian militarism, the spiked helmet [Pickelhaube], tries to stitch together the defeated German states of 1866 (Saxony, Hanover, Nassau, and the Free City of Frankfurt am Main) into a new nation dominated by Prussia. The caption reads: “It is one thing to know how to use a needle.... But it’s a skill that should not be abused” [“Ce que c’est pourtant que de savoir se servir d’une aiguille.... mais, c’est un talent d’ont il ne faudrait pas abuser.”] Here, the cartoonist also makes an oblique reference to the Prussian “needle gun,” the breech-loading rifle that gave Prussian infantrymen greater firepower than their Austrian opponents at the Battle of Königgrätz on July 3, 1866.