The ideology and iconography of May Day illustrations in Germany

Guttsman, Willi
March 1990
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Spring90, Vol. 55 Issue 1, p12
Academic Journal
This article examines the symbolic and the ideological content of illustrative materials regarding May Day published in various newspapers and magazines in Germany in the years before 1914. One of the principal themes of these illustrations was a reference to the Declaration of the Rights of Man, shown in the frequent use of the slogan Liberty, Egality, Fraternity which is inscribed on banners or on other devices in many prominent drawings. The demonstrating and celebrating crowds who figure on many drawings are characterised by their bourgeois-like respectability. Germany May Day practices at that time saw the generally conflict-inducing cessation of work by sections of the labour force. In a series of allegorical prints, drawing on such symbols as youth, chariots and the radiant sun, a broken sword or a shattered cannon, the struggle and its successful outcome were conjured up.


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