“Bombing of the Ruhr”

“Bombing of the Ruhr” (June, 1943)
by AW Mackenzie (1895-1972)
11 x 14 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Mackenzie was a student of Van Dearing Perrine and attended the Art Students League about 1915. He started as a freelance cartoonist in 1941 and in May 1945, he attended the first United Nations Conference on International Organizations in San Francisco as a political cartoonist for the New York Post newspaper. His cartoons a
ppeared daily on the editorial pages of the New York Post, Newsday and in the New York Daily.

The Battle of the Ruhr (March-July, 1943) was a British campaign of strategic bombing during the Second World War against the Ruhr Area in Nazi Germany, which had coke plants, steelworks, and 10 synthetic oil plants. The Battle of the Ruhr severely disrupted German production of steel and armaments, including aircraft.

The cities noted on the cartoon help to pin down the date: Dortmund May 23-24, Oberhausen June 14-15, Duisburg June 19-20, Huls June 22, Mulheim June 22-23,
and Krefeld June 21-22.

“Moonlighting in Alabama”

“Moonlighting in Alabama” (undated, ca 1963)
by Eddie Germano (1924 – )
11 x 15, ink and wash on board

A native Bostonian, Germano became a full-time cartoonist in 1948, at age 24, after serving in WWII. Among other positions, he worked as the editorial and sports cartoonist for the Brockton Enterprise from 1963-1990.

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was an act of white supremacist terrorism which occurred at the African American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, September 15, 1963, when four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps located on the east side of the church. Four young girls, aged 11-14, were killed.

Although the FBI had concluded in 1965 that the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was committed by four known segregationists, no prosecutions ensued until 1977.

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing marked a turning point in the United States during the civil rights movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Watch on the Rhine”

“Watch on the Rhine” (est. March 1945)
by Charles (Chuck) Werner (1909-1997)
12 x 16 in., ink and crayon on textured paper
Coppola Collection

“Die Wacht am Rhein” (The Watch on the Rhine) is a German patriotic anthem. The song’s origins are rooted in the historical French–German enmity, and it was particularly popular in Germany during the Franco-Prussian War and the First World War.

This is the song that the Germans sing in Rick’s Café, in Casablanca, that riles up the French and gets Victor Lazlo to lead the Vichy crowd to singing, drowning out the Germans with a rousing version of La Marseillaise(which began as the “War Song for the Army of the Rhine”).

The song’s title was also used as the codename for the last great German offensive, in late 1944, known today as the Battle of the Bulge.

Throughout history, rivers have divided countries, territories, and armies. They have proved to be difficult obstacles, keeping invading troops at bay and keeping countries separated. Of course, rivers have also been lines to cross – the challenging obstacle to conquer in order to successfully gain more territory and crush the opposition.

Crossing the Rhine was a highly symbolic gesture during the end of WW2, and here one is (I think) depicting the Germanic War as it sees trouble on its Rhine horizon.

In order to successfully execute a river crossing, Operation Varsitywas developed. On the night of March 23, 1945, the Allied forces that had gathered along the Rhine launched their invasion.

General Patton, leading the crossing,  and showing his contempt for the enemy, made good on his pledge to “piss in the Rhine in a week,” which he did from a pontoon bridge in full view of his men and news cameras. To Allied supreme commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower he wrote: “I have just pissed into the Rhine River. For God’s sake send some gasoline.”

“You Said It, Paul”

“You Said It, Paul” (November 6, 1942)
by Burris A. Jenkins, Jr. (1897-1966)
10 x 16 in, ink and crayon on board

Burris Jenkins Jr. was the son of a prominent Kansas City minister, war correspondent and newspaper editor. Jenkins Jr. was a popular sports cartoonist, whose work appeared in the New York Journal-American from 1931. His humorous published verses were also popular. Although best known for his sports themes, Jenkins was also a skilled courtroom illustrator and editorial cartoonist.

Jenkins was not afraid to provoke, and he has some strong WW2 examples, including one of the rare direct commentaries on concentration (death) camps. Among his best-remembered cartoons are his angry piece on the discovery of the dead Lindbergh baby, and his sentimental image of Babe Ruth’s farewell to Yankee Stadium.

He was fired from his first job at the Kansas City Post for a series of pessimistic Christmas cartoons, a firing that prompted his father’s resignation from the same newspaper.

His father was an interesting guy. Jenkins, Sr (1968-1945) was ordained in 1891 and served as a pastor in Indianapolis. He received advanced degrees from Harvard and went on to serve as a professor and president of the University of Indianapolis and president of Kentucky University. He left Kentucky to return to Kansas City as pastor of the Linwood Boulevard Christian Church. The church burned in 1939, and Jenkins chose Frank Lloyd Wright as the architect for the church’s new home overlooking the Country Club Plaza.

Jenkins served as editor of the Kansas City Post from 1919 to 1921, hoping to fight for the establishment of the League of Nations. The Jenkins, Sr., biography tells the story about his leaving the Post slightly differently that for the son: “After two years, it became necessary for him to choose between the newspaper and his pulpit and, without hesitation, he resigned from the Post.”

“Live dangerously!” Jenkins would thunder from the pulpit, embracing his own philosophy against all adversaries. Unconventional in nearly every aspect of his chosen field, Jenkins often preached from non-Biblical texts, such as the latest book or his travels abroad. The church frequently hosted motion pictures, dances, card games, and fundraising boxing matches. These activities led to opposition to Jenkins and his Community Church from other churches in the city.

This cartoon is from November 7, 1942. Paul Joseph Goebbels was the Reich Minister of Propaganda under Hitler, and it is remarkably prescient. After a lengthy period of build-up and training, the Eighth Army launched a major offensive, decisively defeating the Italian-German army during the Second Battle of El Alamein (October 23 – November 11, 1942), driving the Axis forces westward and capturing Tripoli in mid-January 1943.

On and around November 1, the Germans had begun retreating from their positions and were on the defensive, and this is likely what is being referenced here. And the situation on the African front was about to get much worse for the Wehrmacht.

On November 8-16, the US and the UK conducted Operation Torch, a three-pronged attack to re-take northern Africa. As any fan of classic movies knows, the region was dominated by the Vichy French, officially in collaboration with Germany, but with mixed loyalties, and reports indicated that they might support the Allied initiative.

Operation Torch was one of the first large-scale engagements using US troops in the Europe/Africa battle.

The Eastern Task Force met the least opposition because the French Resistance had staged a coup in Algiers, and the Allies were able to push inland and compel surrender on the first day. The Center Task Force suffered some damage to its fleet, trying to land in shallow water, but the enemy ships were sunk or driven off, and Oran surrendered after heavy fire from British battleships. The Western Task Force, led by General Patton, encountered unexpected resistance, as well as bad weather, but Casablanca (see, told you so), the principal French Atlantic naval base, was captured after a short siege.

Although an initial release date was anticipated for early 1943, the film Casablanca premiered at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on November 26, 1942, to coincide with the Allied invasion of North Africa and the capture of Casablanca.

Set in late 1941, but prior to Pearl Harbor, Casablanca features the officially neutral (like the US) Rick (Humphrey Bogart) running an upscale club, frequented by Vichy French and German officers. Rick had escaped during the Nazi occupation of Paris (June 1940), soon after he had met and fell in love with Ilsa (Lauren Bacall), who just before they are to run off together discovers that her late husband, Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid), a famous leader and fugitive of the Czech resistance, is still alive after escaping from a concentration camp. She abandons Rick to care for Victor. A year later, not knowing that Rick has ended up there, Victor and Ilsa turn up in Casablanca to attempt an escape to America.

Sparks fly, intrigue follows… and here’s looking at you, kid.

“The Hills… Are Still”

“The Hills… Are Still” (March 31, 1987)
by Charles Phillip Bissell (1926 -)
11 x 15 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

The Lowell Sun
Tuesday, March 31, 1987

How do you take the measure of one human life? Or, in the words of a Broadway musical, “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?”

If it’s the life of Maria von Trapp, you can count the honors, perhaps even the children. But that only quantifies the life; such factors fail to account for the elusive quality that binds all the quantities together.

For Maria Augusta (Kutschera) von Trapp, the 82-year-old matriarch of the famous von Trapp Family Singers, measuring her life falls short of comprehending its meaning. Just as notes on the page are somehow less than their music, so the events and honors of her life are less than that life’s significance.

The widow of Baron Georg von Trapp, who died in 1947, Maria left a Benedictine novitiate to serve as governess for the baron’s seven children. She fell in love, married the widower, become mother to the seven plus three children of their own, and the rest, as they say, is “The Sound of Music.”

When the singing group broke up, the baroness, who preferred to be known simply as Mrs. Trapp, turned the family home on the rolling hills in Stowe, Vt., into a popular resort lodge in 1967. The family chose that corner of New England because it reminded them of home in the Austrian Tyrol. The lodge burned in 1980, but later was rebuilt and reopened by her youngest son.

Maria von Trapp died on March 28, 1987.