Anti-Facist Imagery: "This is the Salvation They are Bringing Us!" (June 29, 1938)
The leftist weekly Worker's Illustrated Newspaper [Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung] was published from 1921 to 1938. At first, it focused on the construction of the Soviet state in Russia. Later, it began reporting on subjects pertinent to the German working class and settled upon the goal of advancing the political education of workers. Founded by the Communist Willi Münzenberg (1889-1940), the newspaper published articles, illustrations, and photomontages by well-known writers and artists such as George Grosz, Maxim Gorki, Käthe Kollwitz, John Heartfield, Anna Seghers, Erich Kästner, and Kurt Tucholsky. By the time Hitler was appointed chancellor, the paper's circulation had grown to over 500,000. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, Worker's Illustrated Newspaper had to move its operations from Berlin to Prague, where it continued to appear until the German invasion in 1938.
During its years in exile, the newspaper devoted itself chiefly to scathing criticisms of the violence of Nazi rule. This photomontage by Dada artist John Heartfeld, for example, offers a startlingly prescient indictment of the death and destruction to which Nazi war-mongering would soon lead. The image features a frightening skeletal hand, presumably in the form of the Hitler salute. The fingers of the hand are delineated by the dark exhaust of fighter planes. Bombed out, charred buildings are visible on the right; civilian war victims (including children) are seen on the left. The caption underneath reads: "This is the Salvation They Are Bringing Us!" [“Das ist das Heil, das sie bringen!”]. (Here, the word salvation [Heil] is a pun on the Nazi “Sieg Heil” used in conjunction with the Hitler salute.) Published a year before the start of the Second World War, this photomontage unmasks Hitler's missionary zeal to "unify of the Reich" as reckless war-mongering.