LINDSAY, Norman (1879-1969)
Hasten! German Atrocities. A terrible record. The call of humanity
Melbourne: Director-General of Recruiting, 1918. Large folding poster illustrated by Norman Lindsay. Some splitting along folds and chipping with a little loss but overall a good example.
‘A fold out poster-pamphlet with text and illustrations on both sides. This pamphlet was part of a recruitment kit compiled by the Australian government, and published by the Director-General of Recruiting, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. The kit was designed to promote the Voluntary Ballot Enlistment Scheme, in which men would submit cards to a lottery. If their names were drawn out, they would agree to serve in the A.I.F. The five posters in this series were designed to be folded up for posting and easy distribution, and could be opened out by the recipient to reveal the full poster. The poster used many tropes established during the war about the Germans, or the ‘Hun’, and repeated stories (some apocryphal) about German atrocities. Towards the end of the war, following the failure of the Federal government to win the right to conscript soldiers, the army was desperate for more men. The government responded by releasing a series of posters by Norman Lindsay, accompanied by essays that were designed to shock and terrify the reader. It was hoped that atrocity stories would compel men to join. recto: Three different images are on this side, illustrating three different topics. All of the images have a moody grey/green tinge. Under the ‘German atrocities’ heading is a bleak print of the sinking of the civilian ship the ‘Lusitania’ by the Germans. The viewer is given the point of view of the victims, who are struggling in the freezing water in front of the brooding bulk of the ship. Smoke pours from the ship, and tiny bodies are visible hurtling from the railings into the water. In the foreground a hand is reaching out of the water – behind this a mother desperately reaching for her drowning child. The second image, titled “Cavell” depicts a German soldier with a simian aspect holding a gun over the prone body of Nurse Cavell, who was executed by the German military; blood pours out of a neat hole in her forehead, and the soldier twists his moustache like a silent film villain. Her death provoked outrage, and was used frequently in British and Australian propaganda. The third image, titled ‘A terrible record’, depicts the Kaiser being held to account by God for atrocities committed by the German military. One hand of God holds the cowering Kaiser by the scruff of the neck, while the other points remorselessly to a list of German crimes. A large curved sword drops from the Kaiser’s grip – he is standing on the prone, half-naked form of a brutalised woman.
verso: This side contains one image, under the headline ‘The Call of Humanity’, and is placed in the centre of the poster, surrounded by an essay detailing a variety of human rights abuses allegedly carried out by the German military. It appeals to the man reading the pamphlet to identify himself as a protector: a woman who represents ‘Humanity’ is standing in the foreground, clutching a baby and sheltering children in her robes. The absence of a male protector in the image was deliberate, leaving the viewer to regard the woman and children as vulnerable to the depredations of the satanic figures behind them, one of whom is hauling a woman away into a nightmarish landscape.’ – Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/ARTV00143/