This before and after poster captures the fates of both Hitler and Hindenburg. After playing a major role in WW1 not entirely successfully, Hindenburg had tried to retire from public life. Then he was elected to the presidency in 1925. He finally ceded the chancellorship to Hitler in 1933, and died a year later, a troubled man. Hindenburg was then given many honours, including a state burial, for his service to Germany. Another honour was unfortunate: the airship named after him crashed spectacularly in 1937.
This poster captures a decade of German history, showing Hindenburg’s role in the rise and fall of Hitler. This late poster celebrates the fall of a militaristic Germany under both men.
This poster dates from February 1945. In the face of defeat and withdrawal of troops from Eastern Europe, Hitler hurriedly removed Hindenberg’s coffin from Prussia and had it transferred to Berlin. The Russians viewed Hitler as a man on the run.
Drawn from the comic book style of the ROSTA Windows from the early 1920s, like them this poster tells a story and displays a moral. The story is that Hitler and Hindenberg change places over a decade. And the moral suggests political power is fickle, that death is a great leveller and conquers them both.
Sarkisian’s caricature of Hindenburg as a glittering towering general Prussian-style is amusingly set against Hitler’s proud, but diminutive stature and humbler nazi uniform. Hitler is shown as the underdog in both pictures, despite his intervening years of power. The restricted colour range (much grey and brown) reminds of Germany’s militaristic, unformed image.
Despite the gruesome topic, Sarkisian still manages to inject a wry, comic tone. Hitler’s chest bursting with pride is compared to the skeletal, sunken chested creature of a decade later. Hitler struggles obsessively with a coffin too huge to carry, but designed to match Hindenberg’s sizable body.
Osip Brik’s sardonic verse points up the common fate the two figures endure as the defeated must carry the dead to their common grave. His lines subtly underscore the cartoons, providing dialogue and comment.