The German photomontagist John Heartfield visualized Willi Münzenberg's antifascist position in the Communist Party as early as 1932 and became famous for antifascist photomontages, published exclusively in the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ) from 1929 to 1938. Heartfield contributed the image of Ernst Thälmann as a symbol of antifascism through montages for the AIZ in 1934 and 1936. The Comintern's critique of the April 1936 montage, which is understood to be aimed more at the AIZ's publisher, Münzenberg, entangled him and the AIZ in a double-edged crisis in the Comintern. By investigating the fate of Münzenberg's Thälmann campaign and his supraparty organization the Internationale Arbeiterhilfe, the article examines why the Comintern undermined the AIZ, a forceful proponent of antifascism in the European public sphere, and how Joseph Stalin intended to control Münzenberg's media operation to organize a propaganda campaign in the name of Popular Front unity during the onset of the Spanish Civil War.
Research Article| August 01 2017
Cristina Cuevas-Wolf; John Heartfield's Thälmann Montages: The Politics behind Images of International Antifascism. New German Critique 1 August 2017; 44 (2 (131)): 1–24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-3860177
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