Holocaust History: 1940’s Political Cartoons Warned U.S. of Holocaust

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Proof of America’s awareness of genocide against European Jews lay in the funny papers, where cartoonists used pens to eviscerate US politicians’ apathy

NEW YORK — Long before becoming a beloved children’s author, Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel wielded his pen for more sober reasons: He wanted to alert the American public to the horrors of the Third Reich.

In fact, Geisel belonged to a small but determined cadre of American editorial cartoonists who, as early as 1933, sounded the alarm about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Now the work of these legendary cartoonists is featured in Dr. Rafael Medoff and Craig Yoe’s new book, “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust.”

But beyond resurrecting these cartoons from history’s margins, the book upends the narrative that Americans were unaware of the mounting barbarism.

“There is a popular misconception that what Hitler was doing was not known to the American public until the camps were liberated,” Dr. Rafael Medoff, founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, told The Times of Israel. “When you look at the newspaper coverage at the time you see a great deal was known long before that. And the number of editorial cartoons further illustrates how widely known Hitler’s atrocities were before the end of the war.”

That cartoonists addressed the threat of Nazi Germany so early fits in with how they view their role in society, said Yoe, an Eisner Award-winning comics historian and the former creative director for Jim Henson’s Muppets and Nickelodeon.

Read the Remainder at Times of Israel

 

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