The art of propaganda

Louis Raemaekers was a Dutch painter and cartoonist most famous for his WWI cartoons. Regarded as one of the most prolific and popular propaganda illustrators of the First World War period, his work was apparently fuelled by the atrocities he witnessed on the part of the German army.

While Dutch neutrality in the war initially meant that his work was fairly restricted, a Dutch newspaper named Telegraaf eventually provided him with a platform to disseminate his work, allowing him to publish more frequently.


The image above is entitled ‘From East to West and West to East I Dance with Thee’. It was described by Scottish novelist and historian John Buchan as ‘the most profound symbol of the war’.

This was not the only praise Raemaekers received. In 1917, Theodore Roosevelt reflected that Raemaekers’ cartoons “constitute the most powerful of the honourable contributions made by neutrals to the cause of civilisation in the World War.”

In ‘The shields of Rosselaere’ (pictured below), Raemaekers illustrates German troops using Belgian townsfolk as a shield against Belgian fire, forcing them to march ahead. This particular piece was described as ‘the climax of meanness and selfishness’ by archaeologist William Mitchell Ramsay.


The extent to which his depictions were factually correct is still a topic of controversy, with many historians believing that some of the events illustrated by Raemaekers never took place.


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