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Anorak | Facebook bans anti-fascist art

Facebook bans anti-fascist art

by | 27th, December 2017

O Tannenbaum im deutschen Raum, wie krumm sind deine äste!

 

“Excuse me, where are the white supremacists?” That question was asked by an anti-fascist at a protest against the far right in Boston back in August. The Nazis turned out to be a “couple of dozen courteous people linked by little more than a commitment to — surprise! — free speech”. The 40,000 anti-Nazis who turned up stop Hitler’s return and prevent the world ‘returning to the 1930s’, as if a decade were an actual place or even a planet, couldn’t find the enemy they see everywhere, anywhere.

Facebook is also looking for Nazism where none exists. And because it’s got more feelers than a Harvey Weinstein AGM, Facebook can stare at things really hard until it finds something to be offended by and use to showcase its sound morals. It can see fascism in John Heartfield’s 1934 anti-Nazi photomontage, O Tannenbaum im deutschen Raum, wie krumm sind deine äste! (‘O Christmas Tree in German soil, how crooked are thy branches!’), one of the best known and powerful anti-fascist images of that era (see above).

For the hard of understanding, Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld; 19 June 1891 – 26 April 1968), who used photomontages to take on Adolf Hitler, wrote beneath his tree:

“According to the decree of the Reich Minister of Nutrition, the Tannenbaum is forbidden to reproduce as a foreign intruder on German soil from Christmas 1934. In the future, only the brown uniform tree bred in Walhall is allowed .”

He created and worked extensively for the left-wing workers’ daily Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ). Here’s a brief biog of the man:

John Heartfield anglicized his name as a protest against German nationalism during World War I. In 1929 Heartfield began his long collaboration with AIZ, furnishing full-page photomontages nearly every month. Forced to flee Germany after Hitler came to power, he continued to create work for AIZ while in exile. He spent the war years in England, where he worked as a graphic artist. Heartfield was an active supporter of Communism and in 1950 returned to what was then East Germany. He continued to work there, mostly designing scenery and posters for the Berliner Ensemble and Deutsches Theater. Heartfield died in East Berlin in 1968, leaving an extensive archive, which, upon his widow’s death, was transferred to the Akademie der Kiinste zu Berlin. Given Heartfield’s leftist political leanings, his work has rarely been shown in the West. His first exhibition in New York was in 1938; the next was in 1991, when pages from the AIZ were shown.

A 1991 show of Heartfield’s caused the NY Times reviewer to notice the artist satirizing “the Nazi curtailment of civil rights and the Reichstag fire, to pronouncements about German eating habits, made in the face of severe food shortages. One image shows a typical German family dining on a bicycle beneath the heading: ‘Hooray, butter is finished.’ Underneath is a quote from Goebbels to the effect that iron ore makes a people strong, lard and butter only make it fat. Nearby, a related image shows a man being spread onto a piece of toast like butter, along with the Suggestion that, when all else fails, Germany can always eat its Jews. A larger caption reads: ‘Goebbels’s recipe against the food shortage in Germany.'”

 

Goebbels's recipe against the food shortage in Germany."

“Goebbels’s recipe against the food shortage in Germany.”

 

In 1993, MOMA wrote of Heartfield, whose work was being showcased:

His aim was to expose the dangers and abuses of power in the Nazi regime. For example, Adolf, the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk (1932) shows Hitler from the waist up. A swastika replaces his heart, and his torso is an x-ray revealing gold coins flowing down his throat and collecting in his stomach. Meaning of Geneva (1932) shows a dove spiked on a bayonet in front of the League of Nations palace. The headline reads: “Where Capital Lives, There Can Be No Peace!” Such images remain among the most vivid satirical images of German political conditions of the 1930s. Although they deal with figures and events of more than half-a-century ago, they are instantly comprehensible today.

 

John Heartfield, With this sign we want to betray you

John Heartfield, With this sign we want to betray you

 

Heartfield’s work was vehemently anti-fascist. but Facebook saw the Hitler tree and commanded it to get thee hence. Stephen Ellcock published the tree on his Facebook page. And for that he’s been blocked and banished to the Facebook gulag for 30 days.

 

Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung, 10 August 1933

Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung, 10 August 1933, cover by Heartfield

 

John Heartfield - Gefährliche Mitesser (Dangerous Dining Companions),

John Heartfield – Gefährliche Mitesser (Dangerous Dining Companions)

 

nazis john heartfield

 

“The irony of this is glaringly obvious and in the grand scheme of things it is a ridiculously piffling matter, but it is definitely indicative of much wider and very important issues,” says Stephen, who wrote to Facebook to alert them to their idiocy. “Facebook HQ’s only response so far is along the lines, ‘Well, somebody may have have mistaken it for pro-Nazi propaganda.'”

We live in the age of the prude, for whom the overriding desire is to be offended. Triggered by the ‘inappropriate’, the knowing, smug and panicky engage in their demand for universal adherence to their monocular view. There is no alternative viewpoint to theirs. You are wrong. They are right. Things must be banned lest the race-riot in waiting (you) erupt. In the 1930s, we had a word for these censors. But to scream “fascist!” in their cloth ears would only get lost in the din because today everyone you don’t agree with is a fascist. For the censors to see is to do. One minute you’re looking at a demented tree on Facebook, the next you’re wearing felt and burning Jews.

 

1935 John Heartfield photomontage from the AIZ. The caption reads: 'How did this man get this spinal curvature?' 'That is the organic result of the incessant Heil Hitler salute.'

1935 John Heartfield photomontage from the AIZ. The caption reads: ‘How did this man get this spinal curvature?’ ‘That is the organic result of the incessant Heil Hitler salute.’

 

“The most disconcerting aspect of this sentence is that I cannot even respond or react to messages,” Stephen continues, “which is a very draconian and unfair, particularly as I don’t have alternative contact details for many of my closest virtual friends and collaborators. I am also going to lose quite a bit of money as a result of this, as I was going to be paid a reasonable sum for guest ‘curating’ the Thinking 3D FB page over the next week or two.”

Until Facebook sees the light, Stephen will be posting on Facebook via Flashbak.



Posted: 27th, December 2017 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink