“They Both Want Peace” (est. January, 1939)
by Vaughn Richard Shoemaker (1902-1991)
22 x 24 in., ink on paper
This cartoon is not dated on the back as are some of the others, but a meeting with Mussolini that ridicules PM Chamberlain is probably from early 1939.
On January 11–14, 1939, Chamberlain travelled to Italy and made his last official attempt to bring Mussolini to the side of the Allies. The Hoover Archives apparently contain some extensive photographic documentation of the visit, including this description of the visit, drawn from the diary of Mussolini’s son-in-law and foreign minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano:
“In substance, the visit was kept on a minor tone, since both the Duce [Mussolini] and myself are scarcely convinced of its utility. . . . How far apart we are from these people! It is another world. We were talking about it after dinner with the Duce . . . . ‘These men are not made of the same stuff,’ he was saying, ‘as the Francis Drakes and the other magnificent adventurers who created the Empire. These, after all, are the tired sons of a long line of rich men, and they will lose their Empire.’. . . .The British do not want to fight. They try to draw back as slowly as possible, but they do not want to fight. . . .Our conversations with the British have ended. Nothing was accomplished. I have telephoned Ribbentrop that the visit was a ‘big lemonade’ [farce].”
The cartoon is simple and self-explanatory. The setting is definitely a visit by Chamberlain to Mussolini, with overtures of peace that Mussolini is having nothing of.
Here is a picture from the Hoover Archives:
The strange handshake (from left to right): Galeazzo Ciano, Benito Mussolini, Neville Chamberlain (Istituto Luce Photograph Album, Hoover Institution Archives)
And here is a link to a video from the trip.