Friday, February 24, 2006

History surely repeats itself

Right now the world is witnessing a violent uproar in response to 12 Danish cartoons. The situation seems so ridiculous, that there couldn't possibly be a precedent.. or could there ?

In 2002, treasurer Peter Costello described an old story of how in the 1930s, cartoons by Australian David Low published in British newspapers deeply offended Nazi sensitivities: (hit tip: Tim Blair)

Whilst in some quarters in Britain Hitler was attracting admiration, for David Low, a natural democrat and liberal who distrusted totalitarianism, Hitler was a regular target of attack and ridicule.
Low's regular depictions of the Fuhrer caused enormous diplomatic problems for the British Government, but they were to prove remarkably prophetic. Throughout the decade he portrayed the German dictator as a ludicrous, vain, pompous fool with unbridled ambition.
In 1933 the Nazis banned the Evening Standard and all newspapers carrying Low's work because of a cartoon he had drawn depicting Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations.
In 1936 during the Berlin Olympic Games Low received his first request to tone down his depiction of Hitler in the interests of "good relations between all countries". In 1937 the British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax visited Germany and met with the Propaganda Minister Goebbels, who told him that Hitler was very sensitive to criticism in the British press, and he singled out Low for attention. Lord Halifax contacted the manager of the Evening Standard to see if Low could be toned down. He said:
"You cannot imagine the frenzy that these cartoons cause. As soon as a copy of the Evening Standard arrives, it is pounced on for Low's cartoon, and if it is of Hitler, as it generally is, telephones buzz, tempers rise, fevers mount, and the whole governmental system of Germany is in uproar. It has hardly subsided before the next one arrives. We in England can't understand the violence of the reaction."

I encourage you to read it all..