Very Dirty Pictures

The Nazis occupied most of Yugoslavia by April 1941. After a Serbian uprising in July 1941, Milan Nedic was appointed the titular ruler. Under his auspices, the “Grand Anti-Masonic Exhibition” (a code for anti-semitic) opened in occupied Belgrade on October 22, 1941, and ended January 19, 1942. It was funded by the Germans to fan the flames of an already virulent hatred against the Jews. These posters are from that exhibition.

The central theme was based on the traditional blood libel, an alleged Jewish—and, in this case, Jewish-Communist-Masonic—plot for world domination. In addition to the exhibits, a river of propaganda flowed: over 200,000 different brochures, 60,000 posters, 100,000  handbills, 108,000 samples of nine different types of illustrated envelopes, 176 movie clips, four postage stamps, and more. The big lie was more believable when it was everywhere and on everything.

The posters proclaimed that Jews were the ancient enemies of the Serbian people and that Serbs should not wait for the Germans to begin their extermination. Judaism, portrayed in stereotypical orthodox guise, was the source of world evil. They furthermore advocated the “humiliation and violent subjugation” of Jews. Of special interest is the material showing alleged Jewish domination of the American press and finance, particularly control of The New York Times.

This routine type of anti-semitic propaganda conflated Jews into both capitalists and communists—the deceptive Zionist force that dominated all aspects of European—indeed, world—economic life. These pictures couldn’t be more dirty or less effective.

The imagery was produced by graphic artists and designers who drew from templates produced in Germany at the Nazi Propaganda Atelier in Berlin.

More on this and other racial and national prejudice can be discovered at the University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. (Thanks to Mirko Ilic providing the originals also found in this collection and for this book on Serbian pro-Nazi and anti-semitic imagery.)

10 thoughts on “Very Dirty Pictures

  1. Mirko Ilic

    It is very hard to argue with someone who is misrepresenting the facts. The only correct information in your comment is my name, but let’s start from the beginning.
    “Historically, Serbian Fascism never existed however this post is for some reason tagged as Serbian Fascism.” The whole blog post is about posters for the “Grand Anti-Masonic Exhibition” created by Germany at the Nazi Propaganda Atelier in Berlin.
    “It is obvious that Mr. Mirko Ilic has a hidden adjenda.” Funny statement from a “troll” who is hiding even their own name.
    “…since we all knot that Mr. Mirko Ilic is Croatian.” All know? I didn’t. This is news to me. If this “troll” would bother to read any of my biographies, then they would find out that I was born in Bosnia.
    “Mirko Ilic should be posting about Croatian Fascism…” Obviously this “troll” never bothered to read previous Daily Heller posts, such as “Get Them While They Are Young” from February 16, 2012:
    “Mr. Mirko Ilic post is a disgrace to the profession of graphic design.” If this “troll” would bother to read again, they would notice that this is not my post. Daily Heller is the blog of Steven Heller. I provided him with the images from my collection, and he wrote the article.
    It seems like you are the only one who is disgracing themselves, along with whoever you represent.

  2. Oiseau

    Historically, Serbian Fascism never existed however this post is for some reason tagged as Serbian Fascism. It is obvious that Mr. Mirko Ilic has a hidden adjenda. Maybe he can tell a little bit more about Croation Fascism since we all knot that Mr. Mirko Ilic is Croatian. Mirko Ilic should be posting about Croatian Fascism since that should be his area of experteese. Mr. Mirko Ilic post is a disgrace to the profession of graphic design. 

  3. Yue

    Political design always troubles me.  On one hand, everyone has the right to dissent, even if the opinion is an unpopular one.  And humor, terror and visual exaggeration is often used to make a point in a design.  While I believe that the majority of people do not intentionally design for harm, the problem still remains—How do we know that we are on the right side?  When the purpose of design is to persuasive just one side’s ideology, it will be at risk of becoming a propaganda art, particularlly when an opinion is formed based on given information that presents as facts, but turns out to be inaccurate, vague, unprovable, subjective, fragmented or diluted.  Many images created during the high of 9/11 period elevn years ago seemed patriotic at the time, and now they feel like propaganda for war.  Good intention can do bad things.
    So how do someone always design for “good” instead of “evil” when no one is right all the time?

  4. Aleksandar Maćašev

    This post comes at the right moment since Serbia still cannot get out of its limbo of historical revisionism. I just came back from Belgrade and I witnessed a sentiment not unsimilar to that of Milan Nedic’s puppet government of 1941. Chetniks (Serbian nationalist WWII forces known for its collaboration with the Nazis) are being rehabilitated because they were after all “patriots” and Partisans (communist WWII forces aligned with The Allies known for freeing of Yugoslavia) are being shunned because they were, well… communists. (You can see my contribution to the issue here: The guy in question is Draza Mihajlovic, Chetnik leader and the poster boy of the Serbian revisionist wave.)
    There’s an alarming rise of the far-right tendencies in all of the Europe these days. If you’re not a white Christian, and if your ancestors didn’t live on that very spot since the Earth was a fiery ball you might not be welcome. EU diversity rhetoric or not.There are not many Jewish people left in Europe (including Serbia), but that doesn’t prevent right-wing groups in spreading anti-Semitism. Divorced from the mind kind of logic. Also divorced from the heart. The reality don’t matter as long as you can live safely in your self-deceiving world of perpetual blaming of the “evil Other”. Although in that respect anti-Semitism became sort of vintage compared to much more en vogue anti-Islamism. The phenomenon of post 9/11 hatred shift is still to be fully analyzed.
    For further reading about this type of scapegoating I recommend Will Eisner’s graphic novel “The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. Funny thing. I’m working on “Love is the law” LGBT campaign and I was looking for a generic heart shape in the Webdings font set (U+F059 character). I changed the set to Wingdings and I got the Star of David (the same U+F059 character). 
    How about conspiracy of love for a change.

  5. Steven Heller Post author

    We do not remove comments, even ignorant ones, for the same reason we are showing this onerous material. Free speech is inalienable, even if it breeds collateral stupidity.

  6. SM

    @Yoni, @sbee: Have the courage to hear what other people are saying, rather than brandishing your own prejudices. Bass may be an anti-semite, but Israel was created by the United Nations, without the consensus of the millions of Palestinians living in Palestine. Can you tell me how the Palestinians should be responsible for that?
    Leaving that aside (a conversation for another forum, I believe), the entire First World today is doing as an effective job of spreading anti-Islamic propaganda as Eastern Europe did half a century ago against the Jews. There aren’t any posters this time around, just the internet and TV, and the propaganda is on a global scale. I think if desginers were asked to translate that propaganda into posters, they would use some of the same visual elements as we see here. Hatred is a universal language, after all.

  7. Yoni

    I would like to believe that designers would know better than to lend their skills to the propagation of evil. (see: cigarette ads, unhealthy food packaging, this article, etc.) Imagine how much different the world would be if designers refused to work on such projects!!!! Firstly, we’d all starve, but after that, I don’t think anyone would give anti-semitism a second though if it was just some crazy nut handing out xerox copies of a flier he made on Word! POWER OF DESIGN, PEOPLE!!! IT’S DEEP AND IT’S REAL!
    Also, Bass is an anti-semite and his comment should be removed. 

  8. sbee

    These images are utterly sick and disturbing. However, I think it’s better to see them, than have them hidden. It continues to amaze me how people blame one group instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, as in Bass’s comments above.

  9. Paper Acrobat

    I’m not commenting on the political side of this story, but great art often comes from troubled times. When artists and designers are passionate about the subject they can produce beautiful and compelling work in the face of adversity.

  10. Bass

    All what has been said in those pictures are true and the biggest evidence is occupied Palestine, Jews has taken over the land that doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to the Arabs.