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Author Topic: Superman and the Nazi!  (Read 11993 times)
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Kal-L
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« on: November 16, 2005, 03:56:06 PM »

I have found a curiosity; a text of nazi propaganda which aim was Jery Siegel (because of his Jewish ascendance) and his famous character Superman:

Background: Early in World War II, the Superman comic book published an episode in which Superman demolished part of the German West Wall with France. A copy found its way to Das Schwarze Korps, the weekly newspaper of the SS. It naturally was not pleased. The original article included excerpts from the comic book (you can read or re-read here:http://superman.nu/tales2/endsthewar/)

Jerry Siegel Attacks!

"Once there was a man who was so strong that he could stop a speeding locomotive with his ring finger, but he didn't do it."
—Folk tale from Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Siegellack stinks! [Literally "Sealing wax stinks, but also a pun on Siegel's name]
—Proverb from Massachusetts


Jerry Siegel, an intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York, is the inventor of a colorful figure with an impressive appearance, a powerful body, and a red swim suit who enjoys the ability to fly through the ether.

The inventive Israelite named this pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind "Superman." He advertised widely Superman's sense of justice, well-suited for imitation by the American youth.

As you can see, there is nothing the Sadducees won't do for money!

Jerry looked about the world and saw things happening in the distance, some of which alarmed him. He heard of Germany's reawakening, of Italy's revival, in short of a resurgence of the manly virtues of Rome and Greece. "That's fine," thought Jerry, and decided to import the idea of manly virtue and spread them among young Americans. Thus was born this "Superman." On this page we present you with several particularly unusual examples of his activities. We see Superman, lacking all strategic sense and tactical ability, storming the West Wall in shorts. We see several German soldiers in a bunker, who in order to receive the American guest have borrowed old uniforms from a military museum. Their faces express at once both desperation and cheerfulness. We see this bicepped wonder in a rather odd pose, bending the barrels of Krupp guns like spaghetti. "Concrete can't stop me," he shouts in another picture as he knocks the tops off pill boxes like overripe tomatoes. His true strength only shows itself in flight, however. He leaps into the air to tear the propeller from a passing German airplane. As we can see from the next frame, however, Superman has apparently made a mistake, since he seems to have encountered a Yid pilot. No German would say what the pilot says: "Himmel! Vos is diss?" The American answer "Well, here it is" seems to us not quite right. The right response would be something like "Laff if ya likes, I'm Simple Simon!" [The best I can do at translating "Se wern lachen, jach bin der klaine Moritz!"].

A triumphant final frame shows Superman, the conqueror of death, dropping in at the headquarters of the chatterboxes at the League of Nations in Geneva. Although the rules of the establishment probably prohibit people in bathing suits from participating in their deliberations, Superman ignores them as well as the other laws of physics, logic, and life in general. He brings with him the evil German enemy along with Soviet Russia.

Well, we really ought to ignore these fantasies of Jerry Israel Siegel, but there is a catch. The daring deeds of Superman are those of a Colorado beetle. He works in the dark, in incomprehensible ways. He cries "Strength! Courage! Justice!" to the noble yearnings of American children. Instead of using the chance to encourage really useful virtues, he sows hate, suspicion, evil, laziness, and criminality in their young hearts.

Jerry Siegellack stinks. Woe to the American youth, who must live in such a poisoned atmosphere and don't even notice the poison they swallow daily.

Originally published in "Das schwarze Korps", 25 April 1940

Source: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/superman.htm
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nightwing
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2005, 05:59:15 PM »

Wow, that's an amazing little piece of Nazi nastiness, isn't it?  Kind of makes your skin crawl to imagine yourself, even for a moment, living in the Germany of the early 40s and reading something like this.

Thanks for tracking this down and translating it. I will say the criticisms of the art make a bit more sense if you see the strip in its original form.  Look Magazine got the colors all wrong and Superman did indeed look like he was running around with bare legs in a pair of red swimming trunks.

Imagine having a Nazi accuse you of spreading "hate, suspicion, evil, laziness, and criminality" ...that's got to be the very definition of "irony."  My favorite, though, is "suspicion"...naturally only a paranoid mind would read something nefarious into harmless little hobbies like invading Belgium and Poland, or running the Jews out of their homes into concentration camps.   :roll:
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Lee Semmens
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 10:49:26 AM »

Another irony.

I seem to recall reading (where, I unfortunately don't remember) that a prominent 1940s comics critic - probably, but not certainly, Frederic Wertham - among other things accused Superman of being a right-wing fascist, and compared him with the SS!

One wonders what Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both Jewish, would have though of this if they ever read it ...
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2005, 11:46:34 AM »

Given their remarkable perception in even their first AC #1 story, where they wisely noted that wars are at least partly promoted by munitions manufacturers, perhaps they'd look at those defamatory articles then ignore them considering the sources.
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Captain Kal

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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2005, 12:03:48 PM »

Quote from: "Lee Semmens"
Another irony.

I seem to recall reading (where, I unfortunately don't remember) that a prominent 1940s comics critic - probably, but not certainly, Frederic Wertham - among other things accused Superman of being a right-wing fascist, and compared him with the SS!

One wonders what Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both Jewish, would have though of this if they ever read it ...

I certainly saw a film clip years ago of Wertham making the rather simplistic equation that Nietzsche coined the term "superman", and the Nazis used it, so therefore Superman must be a nazi. Superman never seemed to bring much joy to Siegel and Shuster, and I can only imagine the gloom with which they must have received such comments, if they ever heard them. Still, there is a Superman exhibit at the Jewish Museum in Cleveland, and I don't think this is a view anyone has ever taken seriously.

The smug and horribly sneering tone of the Nazi propaganda piece is typical of its genre, and manages to be at the same time revolting and spine-chilling. Odd how it never mentions Hitler by name, just that Superman delivers "the evil German enemy" to the "chatterboxes at the League of Nations". It is amusing to note in the comic how Siegel actually has the German airman speaking some sort of Yiddish ("Vos is diss?"), presumably the closest approximation he could make of German.
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Kal-L
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2005, 12:19:35 PM »

I thank you all for your reaction. It is very pleasant to talk with people who can appreciate this kind of information. Indeed, people around me don’t get interested in comics as I am.
Hi, Lee Semmens! Clever observation… indeed Fredric Wertham, this psychiatrist wanabee, did a lot of harm to comics industry in the 50’s. it is his bad a lot of series ceased to be published at the time. Don’t forget US was under iron heel of Maccarthyst paranoia, and Wertham was really representative of this mentality. He wrote a famous book; “Seduction of the Innocent” supposed to denounce bad influence of comics on youngsters. It is his bad if excellent magazines of EC comics stopped, and Super Heroes became pale copies of what they used to be.


This damned s.o.b. of Fredric Wertham and the cover of his infamous book, “Seduction of the Innocent”

It is Wertham’s bad if the Comics Code Authority appeared, limiting creation and freedom of speech in most publications. Besides, I don’t know if the CCA even still exist. I haven’t paid attention if the famous stamp was still on the front covers of DC or Marvel books.

We had to wait the renewal of super heroes in the 60’s, when guys like Stan Lee or Gardner Fox gave a new blood to comics. We mustn’t forget Maccarthy had been disposed of, because he saw communist plots everywhere, even in the US government itself.


More info on Fredric Wertham here:
http://art-bin.com/art/awertham.html

The Comics Code Authority:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/8580/cca.html

BTW, Nightwing, I thank you much for your compliment, but I have not translated this text, someone of the Calvin Edu site did… :lol:
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2005, 01:04:46 PM »

Of course, many aspects of the early, vigilante-like Superman myth, not to mention the all-knowing, all-seeing, Big-Brother aspect of Superman are indeed fascistic and speak to a near universal drive in humanity towards order and control (thankfully usually balanced out by a will to freedom, cooperation, and anarchy).  Superman is such a wondeful creation because he contains many contradictions and points-of-view, as befits a corporate (in all senses) character.

Far from being a "wannabe", Wertham had a distinguished practice and was quite influential within his profession and within the US judicial system.  The blame for the implosion of the industry in the 50s can also be placed in the hands of the cowardly and conservative major, non-horror publishers, as well as political opportunists like US Senator Kefauver, among many other figures.  If Wertham convinced people, they wanted to be convinced.  He also has a blog!

Wertham is a largely misunderstood figure.  New editions of Seduction, as well as a new book on Wertham by my fellow Canuck Bart Beaty should make his career and views clear to a new generation. Cheesy

Many of these issues have been hashed out here before but I never tire of hearing fresh perspectives.
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2005, 04:25:02 PM »

Kal-L writes:

Quote
Clever observation… indeed Fredric Wertham, this psychiatrist wanabee, did a lot of harm to comics industry in the 50’s.
Quote


We seem to go through this periodically: some opportunist in the field of psychology sells out his profession in pursuit of the fast buck and publishes a book aimed at the moms and dads of the world.  In Wertham's case, he handed parents an easy "explanation" for juvenile delinquency...never mind that it's more likely caused by bad parenting, it's so much easier to throw comics on a bonfire than to examine your own failings as a parent.  (We're seeing the same thing now with the focus on video games, movies and cable TV...which I grant you are generally horrible stuff, but with a little hands-on parenting a kid can be well-adjusted enough to handle all of it).  

A few years later, it was Dr. Spock and his "ground-breaking" notion that it's okay to let your kid run the household since you don't want to damage his/her precious little psyche...thus producing a generation of self-absorbed creeps who think the world owes them something (and incidentally, all seem to hate their parents anyway!).  Wertham appealed to parents' fears, Spock to their wishes (who wants to discipline kids? It's hard!) but in the end they both told people what they wanted to hear, and sat back and counted their royalties.  Never mind how many minds and lives they screwed up in the process.

TELLE writes:

Quote
Far from being a "wannabe", Wertham had a distinguished practice and was quite influential within his profession and within the US judicial system. The blame for the implosion of the industry in the 50s can also be placed in the hands of the cowardly and conservative major, non-horror publishers, as well as political opportunists like US Senator Kefauver, among many other figures. If Wertham convinced people, they wanted to be convinced. He also has a blog!


Yes, that's how it usually goes.  After the glory-hound "expert" publishes his hysteria-inducing "study," a gaggle of vainglorious Senators start hearings to whip up hysteria a bit more and show the voting public that, by gum, their elected officials are on top of the issue.

Wow, hearings on comics, movies, video games...thanks for making America safe, Senators!  Meanwhile 50 years after Wertham we still have runaway crime, crumbling city infrastructures, budgetary boondoggles and poverty.  It's a pathetic cycle of blustering theatrics that goes on forever, and gets us nowhere.


Of course, many aspects of the early, vigilante-like Superman myth, not to mention the all-knowing, all-seeing, Big-Brother aspect of Superman are indeed fascistic and speak to a near universal drive in humanity towards order and control (thankfully usually balanced out by a will to freedom, cooperation, and anarchy)
Quote


You know, I never know how to answer accusations of facism on the part of Superman.  Technically is it "facism" if it's not government-sponsored? Superman acts as a free agent in those early stories, taking the law into his own hands and applying not the rule of the land but his own notions of right and wrong.  If everyone else followed suit that would lead not to facism but to anarchy.  There were occasions when government officials were the bad guys who Superman half-strangled into "confessions," so I don't read a "government is always right" subtext into those tales as I would in a true facist tract.

Later on, like in the 50s, Superman did become more a defender of the status quo and a flag-waving embodiment of patriotism, and I suppose those on the left could argue that alone made him a "fascist."  But by then he had also abandoned his old strong-arm bullying tactics, so he was hardly a storm-trooper.  If anything, buying into the "Establishment" mindset seemed to make Supes a much more even-tempered, calmed down sort of guy.  Not traits I'd attribute to a fascist.

Wertham saw what he wanted to see.  He formed a conclusion and then sought out the "facts" that would back him up, which is the exact opposite of what an ethical scientist is supposed to do.  Whether you care about comics or not, its pretty obvious Wertham was a hack.
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