“The Sacred Ballot”


“The Sacred Ballot” (March 30, 1936)
by Herbert Samuel (Bert) Thomas (1883-1966)
11 x 14 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Bert Thomas (1883-1966) was a wonderful British cartoonist and longtime contributor to Punch magazine (1905-1935). Thomas gained his initial popularity during WWI, with a well-known cartoon that raised 250,000 pounds sterling in aid for British soldiers.

The election for the Germany Parliament (Reichstag) was held on March 29, 1936.


The only candidates on the ballot for the 741 seats were Nazis and a few nominally independent “guests” if the party. Hitler had become leader of the party in 1921, and voting in the election was conscripted. The official turnout was 99.0% (45,002,702), with 98.8% “for” and 1.2% either “against” or declared “invalid.”

The popular acclaim of the people was key to Hitler’s propaganda. The only referendum on the ballot was asking citizens whether or not they approved of the occupation of the Rhineland. See… I’m just doing the wishes of the people.

This was the first German election held after enactment of the Nuremberg Laws, which had removed citizenship rights (including the right to vote) from Jews and other ethnic minorities. This exclusion might have gotten notice, but the Nazis were ahead of that potential PR problem: they lowered the voting age to ensure that the electorate was about the same size as in 1934.

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