Tag Archives: Dr. Seuss

Adolf the Wolf: Analyzing the Dr. Seuss Political Cartoon

Adolf

 

Apologies for the poor resolution: It’s the result of hunting for old political humor.

Resolution aside, this 40’s-era political cartoon designed by Dr. Seuss reflects the United States’ sentiments towards the tyranny of Adolf Hitler, and the events leading up to the beginning of the Second World War (and arguably, the events that occurred after the initiation of the fighting, but before America’s involvement). The picture sets a mood of indifference, perhaps even enmity, towards the Europeans, particularly the nations that were victimized by and assimilated into the Fascist regime. Simply put, Seuss implies that America cared not in the slightest for those ill-fated nations that were flattened under the Nazi steamroller–nations like Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Austria.

The ‘America First’ sweater hints at the daunting American crisis of the time–the Great Depression. With countless Americans jobless and crippled by poverty and a shattered financial institution, ┬áthe focus of the U.S.’s efforts were entirely internal, to the point that the rest of the world could be lilt aflame by the Fascists before America would turn its gaze away from itself.

Additionally, the cartoon hints at the anti-foreigner convictions many Americans developed due to the influx of immigrants at Ellis Island in New York, and Angel Island in California. The Depression gave many Americans an opportunity to lash out aggressively against minority races, particularly the Eastern Europeans who had escaped the tyranny of Nazi Germany. The Americans saw these newcomers as an added threat to an already unstable economy, and they would have nothing of them.

Finally, the image may be alluding to America’s disinterest in WW2 before the events of Pearl Harbor. Apart from the government’s financial backing of Great Britain, Americans for the most part would have nothing to do with the war, a conflict taking place far overseas, and having no direct effect on the homeland, harkening back to the “But those were Foreign Children and it didn’t really matter” comment.