Sunday, October 8, 2017

Propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War #2 : Franco

(this is the second installment; the first group of propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War is here)

Franco found here 
by J. Davó (signed at lower left) and printed by the Romero Lithograph (Tenerife, Canary Islands). Excellent use of a limited number of colors.

A smiling Franco, atop a white horse leads 2 columns of supporters. Those on the left carry the red and yellow pre-republic, red and yellow civil ensign Spanish flag (or the royalist flag if a crest is hidden in the fold). The column on the right carries the red and black flag of the Falange. Franco and his horse complete the cross.  "Julio 18, 1936" refers to the date of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. The rays behind the cross evoke a dawn.

Franco's horse steps on a red snake, a traditional symbol of evil, holding a hammer and sickle in its mouth. The symbols of the hammer and sickle were used by some political parties of the Republican Left.

Not to be cruel, but Franco was not a particularly handsome man and yet here he is drawn in a remarkably flattering way while retaining his likeness. Contrast it to the painting below by Paco Ibera. Franco is as reality would have him : balding, bags under his eyes and a rounded chin (disguising a double chin that can be seen in the photo of Franco later in the page.

Dictator in Furs by Paco Ibera
This was previously mentioned here. Go to that link for more commentary on this.


"Franco cut off at the knees" may not have been the creator's intent

Una Patria! Un Estado! Un Caudillo! (One fatherland! One state! One strongman!)

I suspect this is not from the Spanish Civil War but afterwards.  Cropping Franco off at the knees making him look like Dorf the Dictator. I find it interesting that while there is a relatively bright contrast between the Spanish-French border there is less contrast between the Portugese-Spanish border – it is only slightly more pronounced than the internal borders. Franco presents him self simply : a lack of epaulets or furs or rows of medals.

The font seems very 1930s.


The next portray Franco is a less flattering way.

 Izquierda Republicana En Vanguardia Contra El Fascismo Internacional (Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism) by Petit Guillén Carteles  de la Republica y de la Guerra Civil #180
Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism! (Seriously, you would think they would have included an exclamation point or 2)

Izquierda Republicana En Vanguardia Contra El Fascismo Internacional (Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism) by Petit Guillén (signed at lower left)

from the upper left is Jose Maria Gil Robles (with a pear for a head and bald except for a stem on top) he wears a Sacred Heart necklace to note his Catholicism. Next to him is Benito Mussolini wearing a tiny hat. Below Gil Robles is Adolph Hitler looking sad with his head cocked horizontal.
from left to right : Gil Robles (no stem on top), Francisco Franco and unknown.

Below Hitler is a short, cartoony, Chaplinesque Francisco Franco with a swastika and a death's head on his hat and a sword in his raised hand.

They are all wrapped in the Spanish Republican flag (red, yellow and purple) being pulled by a Republican soldier. While Mussolini, Hitler and Gil Robles are bound together, Franco only has the flag wrapped on one side and he holds a sword that can probably cut fabric.

To the right, behind the soldier, and at the far right is Manual Azaña and his awkward, wrongly drawn hand and pointy finger gesturing upwards. Unlike Franco in the first image, I think here Azana looks little better than reality.

photograph of Manual Azaña (note that the artist wasn't exceptionally unflattering it is just that Manual Azaña looked like a muppet in real life.)

Surrounding Azaña is a crosshatch of white.  Part of the problem likely being those on the left (of the poster) were drawn by a skillful cartoonist while Azaña was likely drawn by the cartoonist copying a photograph and trying to draw realistically while his real talents line in his skill as a cartoonist.

At lower right is a logo "Junta Municipal Delegation de Propaganda Valencia" (Municipal Board Delegation of Propaganda Valencia) (as an aside it is a nice font)

A striking contrast in styles; cartoony for the villains and realistic for the politician and idealized for the Republican soldier.


el generalisimo by Pedero Carteles de la Republica y la Guerra Civil #551
el generalisimo by Pedrero (signed at lower left)

#551 in Carteles de la Republica Y la Guerra Civil
Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid

I imagine that  the title "el generalisimo" in all lower case was intended to be diminishing towards someone grandiose enough to call himself "el generalisimo."

Francisco Franco as death himself dressed in a long grey coat, a black and red cape, white gloves, and spurs. His hand on his sword and his cape carried by an obese army general, an obese capitalist and an obese friar toting a rifle. Again, Franco is shown wearing a swastika.

The helmet is more like a Prussian/German pickelhaube than a contemporary Spanish army helmet (at least as far as i've seen. In fact, while I've browsed through many photos from the Spanish Civil War the only helmets I've seen are on the Republican side. The overseas cap seems to have been worn on the Nationalist side.) Franco's white gloves remind me of the white gloves a plethora of animated cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse wear.


el generalisimo by Antonio Cañavate Carteles de la Republica Y la Guerra Civil #552
el generalisimo by Antonio Cañavate (signed)
I.E. el generalisimo
Junta Delegada de defensa de Madrid
Rivadeneyra, UGT  Madrid

I think this is the most effective. It is fun, interesting and harshly mocking. Francisco Franco on his My Little Pony (with a swastika brand). The chubby horse smiles at a butterfly as it rears up while striking a coy David-esque pose.
Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques Louis David, 1801

Franco's chest is puffed out and he holds a wooden club (one of the knots is heart shaped). He wears an extravagant uniform complete with epaulets, a sash, side stripe pants, a hat with different colored feathers,He has a colorful horse blanket and a blunderbuss (outdated for a 100 years). I'm not sure why his skin is orange, perhaps to comment on his tan from his years in Morocco and the Canaries.

From the swirling clouds drop 2 bombs. The cactus in the background is made up of faces.

It is interesting that the swastika is attached to Franco by his opponents but Franco did not use it as a symbol used to represent the Nationalists. The symbol used by Franco is the old national flag - horizontal red, yellow, red stripes or the red and black Falange symbol and, of course, he used himself as a symbol.

In contrast, elements of the Spanish left also freely adopted the hammer & sickle for themselves (in particular : the PCE, Partido Comunista de Espana aka the Spanish Communist Party and PSU the Partido Socialista Unificado aka Unified Socialst Party and POUM Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista aka the Worker's Party of Unified Marxists).

Keep in mind that at the time of the Spanish Civil War the Nazis were thugs and totalitarians but not yet genocidal mass murderers while the Soviet Union were also totalitarians and thugs but had also been responsible for the death of thousands of forced laborers constructing the White Sea Canal,  the Holodomor, a man-made famine killed millions, and Stalin's Great Purge had started. Different standards for different totalitarians I suppose.

Note the stark contrast in the message being sent : This poster and the "Izquerida Republicana" present Franco as a joke. A puffed up cartoon dandy. But the one between them shows Franco as walking death.

Monday, September 4, 2017

movie notes : Valdemar Legacy (2010)

The Valdemar Legacy (2010) is Lovecraftian horror movie. It was pretty good. It had some tension and it maintained my interest.

The main problem with the movie is the structure. It begins with one set of characters but then has a long flashback with a different set of characters and ends with the first set of characters ready for Valdemar Legacy II. Now, if I had part II queued up after finishing part I then that might be ok; but I didn't.

Spanish language with subtitles and if you watch it with the Amazon Video subtitles turned on then it provides subtitles for the sound effects.

The character Jervás was played by Paul Naschy who I would swear I've seen in more than one movie but I can't figure out which.


from imdb's trivia section :
The first movie in all Spanish's cinema history made without Spanish government subsidies.

That seems both impossible and yet somehow plausible.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Pickelhaube and other headgear

pickelhaube helmet

The spiked german helmet is called a Pickelhaube and upon learning that as a kid I couldn't decide if the name was awesome or hilarious – I later learned it basically translates to "pointy hat" and not "pickle holder" as I had assumed.  This isn't to suggest that you couldn't stick a pickle on to the spike to save it for later. 

Otto Von Bismark in pickelhaube 

Russian Cavalry

An imperial double headed eagle as tall as the rest of the helmet is pretty magnificent. I suppose the spectacular hat is to make up for the fact that he is the cavalry drummer and in about a decade the Russian army would face a Japanese army armed with machine guns.

Russian Army (from here)

While the practicality of a giant feathered plume on your hat might be questioned by some. I wonder if its use waned because it would go embarrassingly flaccid in the rain? 

French army helmet circa World War 1

The French WW1 helmet above has a decorative hump attached, although it was much less extravagant than the golden age. As the steel protective helmet took off the decorative features become less common.

Russian Lancer

The age of fantastic hats was also an age of proud facial hair. Although the fellow above may be making a statement with his lack symmetry.

German Lancer 1914
Note his great squared and flat topped lancer helmet. Just imagine all things he could have balanced up there. People may not be surprised at a head on a pedestal but what about a pedestal on top a head? That's a man with a dangerous outlook on the world.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Ancient Sumerian

Never let it be said that this isn't a classy, high brow establishment interested in other cultures and languages.

The ancient Sumerian symbol for woman :

Sumerian pictogram for woman

Below is the Ancient Sumerian symbol for man. It seems more ambiguous. It could be a fist and forearm or a cartoon man standing in a helmet or a tailless seahorse.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Genius of the Modern World s1e1 Marx

Genius of the Modern World, season 1, episode 1, titled "Marx" clip from about the 41 minute mark.


Bettany Hughes : And then we're told Marx made things worse. Living with the family was a feisty woman called Helene. She helped around the house, she was a fellow radical and friend but, Marx slept with her and fathered an illegitimate son at the same time that Jenny was pregnant again. This was not Marx's finest hour.

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Jenny was furious. They'd all known each other for a long time. So, clearly, there is some drama and upset that goes on. and it is really heavy going. Marx is sending notes to Engels saying I can't go home because it's an absolute storm and everyone is really upset and Jenny was furious please come have a drink with me at the pub at Russell street.

Bettany Hughes  : You know he has slept with somebody who's not his wife; she's pregnant. This is a terrible stigma at the time. It's tough now it was really really tough in the nineteenth century.

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Hmmmm...Well, is it? Because they are quite conventionally unconventional. And at that time, illegitimacy, particularly in the circles that they were moving in, politically and socially, isn't such a stigma. But at the same time quite a lot of the evidence points towards the fact that Jenny wanted it covered up.

Bettany Hughes  : so who takes responsibility for all this?

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Who makes it ok is Engels. He makes it understood that he is the father. And Engels, he takes the rap for his best friend.

Bettany Hughes  : Wow. What do you think this incident tells us about Marx?

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Marx is a man! And ultimately, also a Victorian Patriarch. A man like any other that needs to be understood in context and all heroes have their flaws.

The interview with Rachel Holmes ends on that note.

Ah, the familiar Marxist argumentation style of tossing up a variety of arguments up to see what sticks :
Oh, poor Marx! He was a victim in this and people were mad at him; he was suffering! Didn't fall for that? OK, then ...An illegitimate kid is no big deal! It was accepted in their social circle. Was his wife part of his social circle? OK, then ... in that case it's no big deal because Engels makes it understood that he is the father. He takes the rap and by rap I mean the thing I just claimed wasn't a big deal a moment ago. Oh, you still think it reflects poorly on Marx? OK, then ... it's because he's just a man! All men have illegitimate kids! We should really blame the Victorians as they controlled the penis of all German emigres! Blame the Patriarchy! It was taken out of context! Don't forget he's a hero! C'mon! You're holding him to too high of a standard! Nobody's perfect!

I'll note that the subjects of the series "Genius of the Modern World" are Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

from episode 2 of the series on Nietzsche :

The host, Bettany Hughes, declares that :
"The Nietzsche of the Nazis was a hideous parody... And yet perhaps the blame for his misuse is not entirely Elizabeth's. Nietzsche would never have advocated Hitler's final solution but, he was naive if he thought his work would not be misunderstood. Evil loves nothing better than a void, and the philosopher's clever, ambiguous aphorisms could easily be put to the service of evil. Even when he was entirely sane, Nietzsche  said that bad would be done in his name. The sister and the brother must share responsibility for the life that his work took on after his death."

There wasn't a comparable measuring of responsibility in the Marx episode.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Erasing the Past : Lynch schools

On Wednesday, the Centennial School Board in Oregon voted to remove 'Lynch' from the names of three elementary schools
Lynch Meadows and Lynch Wood Elementary schools will now become Meadows and Wood Elementary schools
Lynch View Elementary will be changed to Patrick Lynch Elementary, after the man who donated the land to the district in the late 1800s
School officials say they have been getting complaints about the names in recent years over the connotation with lynching
While the Lynch family had no ties to the racist mobs, they decided to change the name so as not to offend any students

In recent years, school officials say they have received complaints from people who are concerned about the name's connotation with lynching.'There were an increasing amount of questions and some complaints from families of color around the name,' Centennial School District Superintendent Paul Coakley, who is black, told the Oregonian.  'Our diversity is increasing every year, with families coming in from Northeast Portland and out of state, so [the names] needed to be looked at,' he added. 

'I don't think any of you have ever seen a picture where one of your decedents was hanging from a tree,' one black man said to the board. 

He probably hasn't either - at least I certainly hope not. Of course, being written by the semi-literates at Daily Mail I felt I had to check the other links to see if actually said either "decedents" or "descendants" or if he didn't misspeak and actually said "ancestors." He quite clearly says "descendants." What a travesty that no one recognized the mistake.


I do wonder if it a bit of rhetoric or if he actually has an ancestor who had been lynched. Of course, white people were lynched too.

A young student added: 'I know the majority of you guys are white and it's hard to know how that word could have an effect but it does. If a simple name change could make students feel safe, then why are we holding back?'
Remember, you have to be sensitive towards people. Unless they were born with the name "Lynch" in their family history in which case you can go ahead and smear them and their name with a brutal crime they had nothing to do with.