Today we are very proud to present a series of political cartoons published in the press of the time, courtesy of the National Historical Museum of Athens.
In Greece, in the winter of 1940-41, two things were not lacking from newspapers’ front pages: the latest developments from the front and the daily cartoons: satirical strips, where desperate Italians faced proud Greek soldiers turned ruthlessly against the invader with poignant if also seemingly light blows.
The largest part of war cartoons was published in popular newspapers of that time. Daily papers were filled with cartoons, several of which were also reprinted full-sized and distributed unsigned in the streets of Athens as political notices.
Everyday mail such as postcards were also illustrated with cartoons, therefore giving a unique, unexpectedly joyful and optimistic tone in the messages soldiers exchanged with their loved ones.
From early on, Benito Mussolini was quite unlikable to the Greek public and was the main political caricature in war cartoons for a number of years.
The German Chancellor on the other hand was hardly mentioned, since the Greek government continued to strictly forbid strips which would potentially harm Hitler’s image, hoping until the last moment that Berlin would interfere positively towards Rome. One of the few strips depicting Hitler is the following, which was published on the 6th of April in the “Athenian News”, under the title History repeats itself. Very early that same morning, Vehrmacht had invaded the Greek grounds.
Of similar style is also the only strip depicting Hitler facing the heroic Evzon. It was published on the 7th of April on the front page of “Greek Future”, under the title The Two Crosses. While Hitler is armed with a blooddrippng swastika, on the Greek’s side stands Virgin Mary, raising the Cross.
Another source of inspiration for political catoonists during the Greek Italian War was the Italian army: usually in a miserable condition, they made a run for it in the sight of the Greek army (or even one soldier) and ended up fighting for their life in the Adriatic Sea against Italians.
Against panicked Italians stood proud Evzons and the cartoonists were the first artists to pay homage to the war’s worthy protagonist. Political personalities, or even members of the military were almost absent from their strips. Their hero was the simple Greek, with his traditional cape or traditional costume, moustache and smalltown accent; he, who was on the forefront, fighting against invaders, hunger and cold; he, who, after years of acting as the punching bag for many powerful world leaders, was now teasing Mussolini, making fascist columns run for their lives, turning the war into a triumphant celebration.
Resourceful, joyful and varying in content, the war editorial cartoons succeeded in making fun of the invaders, emphasised the soldier’s glory and toned the moral of those not in battle. And if one is wandering how can a small strip do all these, it would help to think the impact it would have to the moral of all those who had their loved ones fighting in the war front, when, amongst the war news, they could also see Duce running away in the view of the tsarouhi, the traditional Greek shoe!
More specifically the months were named and used as such:
The first four months were named after Gods (Martius, Aprilis, Maius and Junius) and the following continued numerically (Quintilis was fifth, Sextilis was the sixth, and so on). Later on, the fifth and sixth months were dedicated to emperors, and changed to Julius and Augustus, however the months following, continued numerically: September from septum (seven), October from octo (eight), November from novem (nine) and December from decem (ten).
When the months of January and February were added at the beginning of the calendar, the numbering was broken as September became the ninth month, October the tenth etc. However, the latin nomenclature remained unchanged and October is written without an ‘m’, to this day.