Andrew James John Mackenzie
an historiography
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“It’s a lovely war over here...”

A number of intriguing cartoon drawings have been recently discovered and are now being put up for auction on 17 April 2012. The items are now being offered in London with an estimate of £5,000. The fascinating collection includes depictions of Imperial German soldiers on the Western Front between 1914 and 1916, revealing a previously unknown humourous side to the miseries of trench warfare and the famed German officer class.

Commissioned by Lieutenant General Theodor von Wundt of the 26th Division, and drawn by German artist Albert Heim, the caricatures pose a satirical commentary of the German officer class, with a particular reference to the supplying of toilet rolls to soldiers. Indeed, one picture shows a General distributing toilet paper to the troops in boxes with 'for our heroes' inscribed upon it. Another shows an obese officer offering some toilet roll to a thinner colleague with the caption: 'Basil, hand over your thickest roll.'

Speaking of the pictures, the anonymous seller commented:

“The works were commissioned by my great grandfather as a reflective view of life behind the front lines during WWI. The pieces are in mint condition for having been executed at the front. They show a humourous, reflective view of life behind the front lines and as such are a rare artistic legacy of a war painter. The von Wundt family history is extensive and recorded from the tenth century on and there have been many Generals.”

What is evident from these pictures is that derision of the war and those actively supporting it was perhaps more widespread than previously thought. It has provided historians with a greater impression of the opinions that were circulated at the front. These pictures were commissioned to provide a different sort of record of the war through the German perspective, and they certainly do that.

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