“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.