The Bankrupt Country

Die Pleite (Bankrupt) was a radical, left-wing publication associated with the DADA Berlin movement, edited by Wieland Herzfelde, illustrated by George Grosz, and designed by John Heartfield, with issues appearing from 1919–1924. It was one of a growing number of publications that satirized the post–World War I Weimar Republic’s tragic shortcomings and the coming storm. Germany was bankrupt in more ways than economically. Its first representative government was set upon from within by political factionalism and from without by paramilitary nationalist extremists, including the burgeoning Nazi party. Press restrictions required that permits be issued for each newspaper or magazine. Die Pleite, published by the Malik Verlag, was distributed on the street by hawkers directly to its constituency.

This first issue used Grosz’s drawings to attack the wealthy oligarchy, which continued to enjoy the privileges of power, the hypocrisy of religion and a report from the First Communist International. As the crisis in Germany got closer to civil war, Die Pleite agitated more and caricatured the likes of “caveman” Adolf Hitler.

 

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