blix

Features Ragnvald Blix. the cartoonist who challenged Hitler

Ragnvald Blix was both a cartoonist and author. Blix declared his manifesto: “To be a good cartoonist, you have to be cold as ice in the face of all ideas and all persons. Sympathies and antipathies do not exist. First and foremost, you must have no respect for authority, tradition, or anything else in Heaven or on Earth, or even for anything in Hell.” Blix continued ridiculing fascism, Nazism, and communism in his satirical cartoons.

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds Pages 22-25, March 2011
Published on balticworlds.com on maj 2, 2011

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“Blix’s drawings show how clearly people overseas could see behind the façade of the Third Reich. They reveal the official propaganda of Nazi Germany”, wrote Dr. Wieland König, former curator of the Dusseldorf City Museum, in connection with a Blix exhibition in 1986.

Ragnvald Blix was born in Christiania, now Oslo, in 1882. His father Elias Blix was a liberal church minister in the liberal government of Johan Sverdrup, a professor of Hebrew, and an author of hymns.

From an early age, Blix was able to see the antagonisms in society and took his gentle, right-minded father’s side against conservative hypocrisy. By the age of twelve, he had already shown evidence of his talent and published a cartoon magazine he called Peik, which featured caricatures of teachers and schoolmates. Three years later, he and his best friend Einar Skavlan, later editor-in-chief of Dagbladet, published Brage, a magazine whose motto was “to criticize and to mock”, written by Skavlan and illustrated by Blix.

After graduating from high school, he became the editor of a Norwegian satire magazine, Tyrihans, succeeding Olaf Gulbransson, who had just emigrated to Munich to draw for the world-renowned German satire magazine Simplicissimus.

One year later, Blix left for Paris, where he made contact with the Scandinavian artists’ colony, drew cartoons of them, and published Karikaturer: Nordiske Forfattere [Cartoons: Nordic authors], Copenhagen 1904. The cartoons caused quite a sensation. Danish writer Herman Bang never forgave him; Georg Brandes was offended at first, but he and Blix later became good friends. He wrote about Blix’s drawing style: “His lines appeal to the eye because the man has the ability, unusual for a cartoonist, of being able to draw. The drawings are amusing because they are witty without the usual gross exaggerations used so that the semi-educated will understand.” In and of itself, the satanic cartoon of Brandes is a modern breakthrough in cartoon art. BjØrnstjerne BjØrnson thought the other cartoons were good, but that the one of him was poor. Blix replied: “That’s what everybody else says.”
Blix stayed in Paris   and worked for French periodicals like Le Rire, L’Assiette au Beurre, and the daily newspaper Le Journal, which put him on permanent staff, a huge honor for a twenty-two year-old cartoonist from Norway. In a profile interview written by Christian Krogh for the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang in 1905, Blix declares his manifesto: “To be a good cartoonist, you have to be cold as ice in the face of all ideas and all persons. Sympathies and antipathies do not exist. First and foremost, you must have no respect for authority, tradition, or anything else in Heaven or on Earth, or even for anything in Hell.”

This was the golden age of French satire and cartooning, typified by cartoonists such as Jean Louis Forain, Theophile Steinlen, and Caran d’Ache. Blix outdid them all in disrespect by making the first caricature of the Mona Lisa, long before Salvador Dalí. The drawing was exhibited at the “Salon des Indépendants” in 1905 along with several other of his restatements of works hanging in the Louvre, including Rembrandt’s
“Saskia” and David’s “Madame Récamier”. The irrev-erent cartoons elicited enormous public attention. There were tumults in front of the drawings and people howled with laughter. Blix wrote: “I didn’t actually set out to be a comedian. But Rousseau, who was also exhibiting, gave me a friendly pat on the back. He said ‘People stand and smile at my paintings too, and that’s worse, because that wasn’t my intention.’” All of Paris was talking about the young satirist from Norway.

The editors of Simplicissimus discovered the cartoons and published a great many of them. Mark Twain saw them and asked the magazine to keep publishing the Louvre cartoons, whereupon Blix was immediately offered a job at Simplicissimus. In the meanwhile, Mark Twain tried to persuade Blix to come to America. He sent a photograph of his house in Connecticut captioned “My house is your castle”, and in a later letter he wrote: “I have always had an aversion for Mona Lisa before, but this one is just a darling.”
America or Germany?    Blix asked Forain what he should do. Forain told him that 95 percent of French cartoonists would envy him if he went to Simplicissimus. And Blix himself remarked: “I thought about it so long that M. T. died. And so I ended up at Simplicissimus. Mark Twain gave me enormous confidence and the prestige required to be acknowledged by the world-famous authors and artists who sat in Munich like popes and allowed no one new inside the walls. I refer to the poet Ludwig Thoma, the editor, and the members of the staff: Frank Wedekind, the brothers Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Herman Hesse, and others.” Blix was at that time only 26 years old. Some of the other artists working at Simpliccissimus were Eduard Thöny, Heinrich Zille, Käthe Kollwitz, Olaf Gulbransson, and Thomas Theodor Heine. As the new century began, Simplicissimus was at the height of its power. A Chinese diplomat visiting Germany at the time wrote after arriving home that there were two major powers in contemporary Germany, the Kaiser and Simplicissimus. Blix stayed with Simplicissimus for ten years, which is where he received his training in the strategy and techniques of satire. In the early years, he illustrated Ludwig Thoma’s texts: proletarian and petty bourgeois vignettes written in authentic Bavarian. His early work was impressionistic, in muted colors, with social motifs in the manner of Heinrich Zille. But he later went over to a pure line, à la Thomas Theodor Heine, accentuated by a bright color field, a form determined by the limits of printing. He also followed Heine’s political path; systematically and with pinpoint accuracy, they both targeted the ludicrous, hypocritical, and vulgar Kaiser Wilhelm II, and this at a time when the upper classes of European society considered it an honor to entertain the Kaiser and his court. Blix, a Norwegian citizen, was threatened with deportation several times and Heine had already served six months in prison in 1898 for lese-majesty.

Blix drew a cartoon in 1912 called “Der kranke Zarewitsch” in which Death is reaching out for the son, who is hiding behind his father’s back. The Tsar asks: “What is your business here? Haven’t I given you enough to do in the Balkans?” The cartoon was published on the cover shortly after Russia had provoked the Balkan countries into a sanguinary war, which led to the banning of Simplicissimus in Russia. This was a considerable financial loss to the magazine, “but I got a pay raise”, Blix related.

“The fight against German militarism was a common theme running through the magazine. When the First World War came, Heine soon wanted to shut it down, but Thoma protested. He got the others behind him; they all had to make a living, of course. And so Simplicissimus went from being an international organ for the struggle against authorities to a national trumpet of war and they believed for a long time that Germany would be victorious”, wrote Blix. But as the fortunes of war turned, the old pacifist attitude rose again. Blix drew “Death in Flanders” in 1917. The cartoon shows Death sitting on a pile of fallen soldiers, his head buried in his hands. He says: “Stop it people — I can’t take it anymore.”
Early in 1918,   Blix was assigned to illustrate the cover of Simplicissimus: “Der Deutsche Michel is climbing a mountain — now he had only one last grasp to reach the top. But I did not have the rock-solid faith of the Germans, so I was cautious and drew the peak as unattainable. The drawing was called “Vor dem Ziel” [Almost to the top] and was published on February 12, 1918. There was no time to draw another one, and the magazine could not be published with a blank cover. But I had never before, nor have I since, had less success with a drawing”, wrote Blix.

Blix went to Norway the following year and started a satire magazine called Exlex (“Lawless”) that was meant to be a Nordic equivalent of Simplicissimus. The first issue was published on February 11, 1919. The head office was in Kristiania. Nordic artists including Anton Hansen, Robert Storm Petersen, Adolf Hallman, Oscar Jacobsson, and Gustav Ljunggren contributed. Literary contributors included Knut Hamsun, Georg Brandes, Johannes V. Jensen, Martin Andersen Nexö, Ludvig Nordström, and Erik Lindorm. Danish poet Tom Kristensen debuted in Exlex, which also published poets such as Herman Wildenvey and Emil Bønnelycke. Texts were published in the original languages. Blix was the editor and usually illustrated the cover, which, like Simplicissimus, was a full page in color, with a clean outline, bright color field, and Blix’s own captions. “Never before or since has any Nordic publication gathered so many talented, not to say out-and-out gifted, contributors; it simply had to go wrong”, wrote Arve Solstad, former editor-in-chief of Dagbladet.

One year later, the head office moved to Copenhagen. Thomas Theodor Heine wrote that Exlex was one of the best magazines of its kind in the entire world, and that Blix had developed into one of the truly great cartoon satirists.

One of the most memorable cartoons in Exlex is “Revolution?” which shows Norwegians fighting about how the word revolution should be spelled. Another is “When the Socialists Come”, which refers to the days when Sweden’s first Social Democratic cabinet ministers were to take office. The cartoon shows the interior of the Royal Palace in Stockholm with King Gustaf in the foreground. A servant in uniform decorated with gold announces the arrival of the new cabinet members and asks whether he should admit them. Queen Victoria answers: “Certainly, but through the servant’s entrance!” Blix’s attitude toward politicians is clear in “The Agreement”. In this cartoon, the Devil is sitting in Hell waiting for guests to arrive from Earth. He says: “Here come the politicians, so I suppose there is peace on Earth again.”

But Exlex was forced to shut down after two years; there was not a large enough audience in Scandinavia able to appreciate what people like Blix and Heine were trying to do with their magazines: sharp, personalized criticism of everything and everybody.

Sigurd Hoel asked Kyrre Grepp, chairman of the Norwegian Labor Party, to secure the publication of Exlex. Grepp responded: “Blix is a great cartoonist and he is an agitator. But he refuses to take direction, and if we are going to put money into something, we want to make decisions as well.”

After Exlex folded, Heine wanted Blix back at Simplicissimus. But problems acquiring a residence permit and housing stood in the way and Blix started working mainly for three Nordic daily newspapers: Dagbladet in Norway, Berlingske Tidende in Denmark, and Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning (GHT) in Sweden. He delivered one captioned cartoon per week for the rest of his life, except during the war years, when he worked only for GHT under a pseudonym.

Blix was one of the first foreigners to literally catch sight of Hitler. This happened in Munich in 1922, the year before the failed coup. Blix describes it thus: “An Austrian housepainter appeared in Munich. Since the posters said that Jews were not allowed, I got curious and went there one day. I was received with tremendous courtesy and a couple of uniformed gentlemen led me through the full auditorium up to the platform so that I could sit, so to speak, at the master’s feet. Finally, he arrived. An ordinary, unhealthy looking man with a brachycephalic head atop a dirty raincoat, which he kept on during the talk. The hairy bit under the nose seemed to be rooted to the upper teeth, only the lower jaw was in motion. It was as if he wanted to emphasize an underbite he did not have. A charmer he wasn’t. And he was not a good speaker either. He stood with his nose in the script and read aloud the entire time. At any rate, he was not the illiterate I at first took him to be.” The editors of Simplicissimus wondered whether there might be any point in drawing Hitler, but they concluded that they could not get involved with those kinds of “trifles”. However, that changed a few years later, when Blix had serious reason to address the “trifle” and began to attack Nazism in Germany. Hitler was an obvious target, just like Mussolini and Fascism in Italy. Nor were the Communists ignored: Lenin and Stalin were included in the portrait gallery. The war in Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War, and the advance of Fascism, the passivity of England and France — there was plenty of material.

On February 3, 1933, three days after Hitler took power, GHT editor-in-chief Torgny Segerstedt referred in his “Idag” [Today] column to a Blix cartoon called “Caricature of Mussolini” published a few months earlier. It shows Mussolini standing in the midst of a beautiful Italian landscape with a severe, somewhat thoughtful expression on his face, saying: “I can certainly enjoy a good caricature of myself, but Hitler is an insult.” Segerstedt wrote at the end of the column, “Forcing global politics and the global press to have anything to do with this figure is unforgivable. Mr. Hitler is an insult. ”On February 7, Segerstedt got a telegram from Reichsminister Hermann Göring which included the following: “I object most strenuously to the remarks about the German Chancellor published in your newspaper on the third of February. As a true friend to the people of Sweden, I see in such filthy statements a serious risk to a warm and friendly relationship between the two peoples”. Torgny Segerstedt remarked on February 8: “The amiable feelings of the Swedish people for the German people as a whole will probably withstand even the rigors of the darkness that has covered that unhappy land. We hope that it will, without excessive trials, be able to raise itself from its humiliation. Nor does anyone blame the German people for the peculiar behaviors with which these temporary leaders are diverting the world. We do not take these gentlemen seriously. However, we consider it a grave matter that they are exercising the powers of government in Germany.”
Blix’s cartoon    “Germany Then and Now” was published on March 11, 1933 in GHT. The cartoon is split down the middle. In the left-hand panel, there is a row of portraits of Goethe, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Schiller with the caption: “Das Volk der Denker und Dichter”. The right-hand panel shows an executioner holding a basket laden with decapitated heads. One arm bearing a swastika on the sleeve is reaching out and strangling a man, another arm is shooting a man in the head, while in the background people are being arrested by police wearing swastika armbands. The caption reads, “Das Volk der Henker und Richter”. The cartoon elicited diplomatic protests from the Nazi regime. When it was to be printed in Berlingske Tidende, the presses were stopped after a couple of thousand copies had been printed. This cost the newspaper 6,000 kronor and Blix 100 kronor.

There were once again diplomatic protests from Germany on July 8, 1933, this time provoked by Blix’s cartoon “Captain Hindenburg” in GHT. Dressed in a captain’s uniform, Hindenburg is sitting on a ship in a storm. Hitler is at the helm and Göring and Goebbels are gripping the compass. The caption reads: “We dare not throw him overboard. If it all goes wrong, we have to have somebody left who can be the last man on the bridge.” When Hindenburg died on August 2, 1934 and Hitler was proclaimed his political heir by the Nazis, Torgny Segerstedt stated in both the editorial and his column that the “last will and testament” was an arrangement that would enable the Nazis to feed on the former president’s national authority. A ban on GHT in the German Reich was issued effective August 14, 1934, to February 15, 1935. The ban was extended on February 14, 1935, and was not lifted until May 1945.

In the meantime, Blix continued ridiculing fascism, Nazism, and communism in his satirical cartoons. By 1936, his freedom had already been restricted in Berlingske Tidende. Of the complaints received from Italy and Germany, 99 percent had to do with Blix’s cartoons.

However, there were no objections to Blix’s “Stalin’s Conspirators”, also from 1935, which shows Stalin at the dinner table with his wife and children, with the following dialog: “All of my best friends are dead for my sake.” “Are you sure about that?” “Of course, I hanged them myself!”

Blix’s cartoons provide a variety of glimpses into German society under Nazism, such as “German University” from 1933, in which we see two older professors discussing who the policeman with a swastika around his arm might be: “What is the policeman doing here?” “Hush, that’s the one who took over Einstein’s professorship.” In another, “New German Court” from 1934, the dialog is: “Are you not a jurist either, my dear colleague?” “No, no, I have no inhibitions of any kind.” And then there is “Nazi Growth” from 1933, in which Goebbels is talking to a group of women, who are listening with downcast eyes: “We ask of you women only one thing, that you make more of us!” “The Revolver President” was published on August 11, 1934. In this cartoon, the people are saluting with both arms when they catch sight of Hitler, who wonders: “What is this? People have started to raise both arms when I go out in public.” The cartoon alludes to the terror Hitler struck into the hearts of the people after the purge within his own party, when he had ordered the execution of a large number of former SA leaders accused of plotting against him.

Blix was dismissed from the staff of Berlingske Tidende in January 1940. His last drawing in Dagbladet was published on April 6, 1940, before the occupation of Norway.

Blix and his wife managed to get themselves to Gothenburg by their own devices a couple of weeks later. When Blix asked whether he would still be allowed to draw for GHT, Segerstedt answered: “Yes, please do; just make sure I don’t end up in prison!”
On November 7, 1940,   Blix wrote to Segerstedt: “Here is the first cartoon, which I hope can be printed in the Saturday edition. Since, as a foreigner, I am not permitted to meddle in politics in Sweden, I have changed my name and am calling myself Stig Höök. I hope it will not betray me as disgracefully as the cartoons do!” He had found the name in an obituary. Blix adapted to the prevailing situation and often submitted two or three captions to choose among. In the first cartoon, called “Quislings on the Hunt”, three men of the “hird”, the political militia of the Norwegian Nazi Party, are walking abreast, jackbooted and with swastikas on their sleeves, looking rather sheepish. They say: “Our miserable democracy has kept Norway down in such poverty and destitution that even the Jews have stayed away — there is actually not as much as a single Jew to exterminate here!”

Nazi complaints about the Swedish press, and especially GHT, came to a head in 1942. The Counselor of Legation, Mr. Dankwort, the German chargé d’affaires, reported in a telegram to Berlin on May 23 that the Swedish foreign minister Christian Günther had informed him that the hostage systems, that is, a number of new death sentences pronounced upon Norwegians taken as hostages, had caused rising concern among the Swedish people and damaged public opinion of Germany.

In Stig Höök’s cartoon “The Hostages Shall Be Executed”, a group of Norwegians are lined up facing several rifles. Death stands in the foreground wearing a uniform coat and preparing to put on a blindfold. He says: “If I must manage this as well, I will have to wear a blindfold!” It was published in GHT on July 18, 1942. The German minister in Stockholm, the Prince of Wied, immediately lodged a protest with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and demanded that the
edition be recalled. A couple of months later, the German legation requested that GHT be confiscated entirely. However, this did not happen.

“Quisling’s Christmas Boat” was published on December 5, 1942. It shows Quisling sitting and writing a letter. Through the window can be seen several members of the “hird” hitting people over the head with batons and carrying them off to a large boat. The caption reads: “I am sending you a boatload of Jews as a bit of encouragement in these ill-fated times. I hope it arrives before the Christmas tree is lit …”. The drawing alludes to the persecution of Jews in Norway, which culminated in the monstrous deportation by boat to German concentration camps in November 1942.

Blix’s good friend Thomas Theodor Heine was Jewish and had fled Munich for Prague in 1933 after his colleagues at Simplicissimus had repudiated him and claimed that it was Heine the Jew who had misled them into taking their critical attitude towards Hitler.Heine managed to flee to Norway in 1939 and was rescued from the persecution in December 1942 and taken to Sweden. He was received in Stockholm by Blix, who had organized the flight with the assistance of Einar Skavlan, a Norwegian resistance organization, and Christian Günther.

Criticism of German policy continued in GHT despite various attempts to quash it. As early as 1940, King Gustaf V had in a personal conversation tried to persuade Torgny Segerstedt to stop publishing articles and illustrations critical of Germany, but to no avail. For the duration of the war, GHT continued reporting freely about the war, publishing Stig Höök’s cartoons, and writing articles about the Swedish appeasement policy, despite constant threats of confiscation.

Blix remained in Sweden throughout the war. He lived in Stockholm during the winters and at Guö in the province of Blekinge during the summers. His cartoons were distributed by illegal channels to the resistance movements in Denmark and Norway. Håndslag: Fakta og orientering for nordmenn [Handshake: Facts and orientation for Norwegians], a newspaper in a small format the size of a hand, was one of the most popular underground periodicals in Norway. It was started in May 1942 by the Stockholm office of Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning. The first issue came out on June 1, with Swedish writer Eyvind Johnson the publisher of record. Most of the articles were written by the Norwegian journalist and author Torolf Elster, and Willy Brandt, who later became Federal Chancellor of Germany. Stig Höök usually illustrated the cover. The last edition was published in June 1945. Circulation was sometimes as high as 16,000 copies, which were distributed in virtually every corner of Norway. The people who distributed the paper often had the Gestapo hot on their heels and were sometimes caught red-handed, with very grave consequences. “All told, there might have been about a million Blix cartoons spread in Norway during these years. He was not paid a penny for them, but only tremendous satisfaction”, wrote Torolf Elster forty years later.

The periodical I dag: Fakta og orientering for danskere [Today: Facts and orientation for Danes] was sent illegally to the Danish Resistance. Bengt G. Carlsson was the editor and publisher of record. Torgny Segerstedt wrote many of the articles and Blix illustrated the cover.

Two selections of Stig Höök’s GHT cartoons were issued as albums in Sweden: Stig Höök Anno 1941 (after Judas) published by Axel Holmström, and Stig Höök 1942–44 published by Bonniers. The 1942–44 album was published in May 1944 and was very favorably reviewed in about twenty Swedish newspapers, even though the war was not over. A few of the headings were: “It is not the war in pictures …  but the reality behind the war”, “An album about the great madness”,and “The Segerstedt of the Drawing Pencil”.Under the heading “Political Propagandist”, one reviewer wrote “…  Stig Höök has been and remains one of the most dangerous enemies of Nazism in this country”.

The 1942–44 Stig Höök album was published illegally in Denmark. It was printed on cheap paper and the profits went to the Liberation Movement. Stig Höök’s perhaps most famous cartoon, “Audience with Hitler”, was printed in that edition. It was previously published in GHT on January 29, 1944. It shows Quisling on his way in to see Hitler, his arm lifted in a Nazi salute. He says “I am Quisling!” and the guard asks “And your name, Sir??”

Through his weekly cartoons in GHT, the illegal publications in Håndslag and I Dag and the Stig Höök albums, Blix became one of the most famous and significant shapers of opinion in Sweden during the war and an aid and inspiration to the resistance movements in Norway and Denmark.

On the 11th of May, 1945, a Stig Höök 1942–1944 cartoon album was returned to Blix by post from Denmark, bearing the following inscription:

Göteborg, May 8, 1945

Dear Stig Höök,

My son Ib would have been so happy to meet you in order to personally thank you for the invaluable help you gave the Liberation Movement in Denmark by allowing the “1944 paper” to publish your magnificent, powerful pictures, which raised a great deal of money, all of which went to the Liberation Movement. He fell to a German bullet on the 23rd of April.

Yours truly,

Ernst Christensen

 

The first cartoon once again signed Blix after the 1945 surrender was printed in GHT on May 19, 1945. It has neither title nor caption. Himmler and Death are standing next to each other, Death’s arm draped over Himmler’s shoulder. Both are wearing uniform caps. On Himmler’s cap, there is a badge with a death’s head. Death, whose cap bears the badge of Himmler, looks at Himmler with a worried expression. The cartoon later became known as “Himmler and Death”. Another unforgettable cartoon is the one showing Göring during the Nuremberg Trials wearing a pair of old, patched trousers and a collarless shirt, trying to wriggle out of the verdict to the very last, when the judge asks: “And perhaps you were not a Nazi either?” The answer is: “It must have been while I was under the influence of morphine; now that I am off the stuff, I am almost liberal.”

In his description of the German people, Blix was not led to believe that a German was the same thing as a Nazi. Blix points out the suffering and need of the German people. There is, for example, the cartoon of child soldiers at the end of the war being visited by Santa Claus, and the cartoon of bombed-out Berlin in which Goebbels comfortingly says: “Yes, yes, of course it is difficult. But we must rely on the Führer. He has promised to personally draw up the plans for the new Berlin.” He made the leaders comical, but never forgot they were dangerous. Goebbels, for example, whom he drew a great many times, was never depicted with a clubfoot, which he had, and never as shorter than he was. “Everything could be read in that face with its strained features. The dwarf who wanted to be a giant, the clubfoot who wanted revenge.” According to Norwegian writer Sigurd Hoel, Blix has only one contemporary competitor as a satirical cartoonist, David Low, but Low used coarser stuff. During the critical interwar years, he depicted Hitler and Goebbels as merely ridiculous; Blix never forgot their malevolence. Due to Blix’s political grounding as a cultural radical with a healthy, ingrained skepticism of every form of authoritarian government, he was able to keep a cool head, maintain the high standards of his contributions, and not allow himself to be impressed by the leading politicians of the world. He always saw the underlying causes.

Blix was both a cartoonist and author. “A lot of people ask me whether I write the captions myself. They might as well ask me if I do the drawings myself”, remarked Blix.

The drawing and the text are all of a piece. His simple lines are distinctive and precisely characteristic. The drawing is pared down to the rudiments. The form of the artwork is determined by the limits of printing. The text, which is also distilled, quite often a subtly humorous line taken from an imagined context, completes the picture, takes it further. The likeness and the meaning are crystal clear. The text and the drawing as a whole are meant to entertain and to worry.
After the war,    Blix and his Danish wife returned to Copenhagen and he continued delivering one captioned cartoon a week to Dagbladet, Berlingske Tidende and Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning until a couple of months before his death in May 1958.

His post-war cartoons are just as acerbic as before. He became one of our first atomic bomb protestors, a stance expressed in cartoons such as “Triumphs of Science” from 1948, in which Nils Bohr says to Einstein: “Don’t worry about the atomic bomb — it’s already obsolete”, or “Hydrogen Bomb” from 1950, in which President Truman is sitting and fishing and says: “No, no, I dare not take responsibility for the future”, and is answered “There won’t be one, Mr. President.” In “Adenauer’s Nightmare” from 1951, Blix addresses the return of former Nazis to the Federal Republic of Germany. Adenauer is lying in bed with the covers pulled up to his nose. Large, black rats with swastikas on their backs are climbing into bed with him. “Since the Americans have let them out of the trap, I cannot as a good democrat reject them”, he says.

Blix received several honors for his work, such as King Christian X of Denmark’s Medal of Freedom, and the Norwegian state artists’ stipend. When the Norwegian Academy was founded, he was invited to be a member, as the only visual artist. His cartoons are in the collections of institutions including the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the Swedish National Museum, the Norwegian National Gallery in Oslo, the editorial offices of Dagbladet in Oslo, the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, the Dusseldorf City Museum, and the Munich City Museum. In recent years, they have been shown at exhibitions in several Scandinavian countries, Poland, and Germany. ≈

references

References to this article can be found in the book where it was originally published, Vilja frihet, motstå våldet [Desiring freedom, resisting violence], Göteborg 2009 (Stiftelsen Torgny Segerstedts minne).

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