Exhibition about the satirical newspaper “Pardon”: subtlety, nonsense, deeper meaning


The Caricatura Museum Frankfurt is dedicated to the satirical magazine “Pardon”. She made the city on the Main the joke capital of the Federal Republic.

Excerpt from the cover of a “pardon” issue from December 1969

Excerpt from the cover of a “pardon” issue from December 1969 Photo: CARICATURA © B&N

For director Achim Frenz, that’s it “most beautiful museum in the world”: The Caricatura Museum Frankfurt is quite unique from afar. It owes its existence to the initiative of the almost universally misunderstood and often reviled former head of the cultural affairs department, Hans-Bernhard Nordhoff, who encouraged and got the foundation of a museum for comic art in Frankfurt am Main up and running.

The house is currently showing an exhibition on the history of the satirical magazine pardon, which was founded in 1962 by Hans A. Nickel and Erich Bärmeier. The founding generation also included the brilliant draftsman Friedrich K. Waechter, who drew the magazine’s logo, the slyly smiling devil with horns under the black bowler hat, as well as Hans Traxler, Chlodwig Poth and Kurt Halbritter.

The magazine quickly became the largest satirical magazine in Europe with a circulation of 300,000 copies at times and made Frankfurt the satirical capital of the country. And that ten years before it became part of the satirical magazine titanic after 1972 the “New Frankfurt School” to former pardon-formed employees.

Founded and grown in the Adenauer Republic, developedpardon became a beacon of criticism of the repression of sexuality during the Restoration through sometimes drastic cover photos that late-born prudes today like to denounce as sexism. The repression of the Nazi past in politics, the judiciary and society, but also clericalism and military armament, was a recurring topic.

Cover photo of a

Cover photo of a “pardon” issue from 1969 Photo: CARICATURA © B&N

Years of growth and consumption-fixed economic miracles

The mendacious side effects of the anything but wonderful growth and consumption-fixated economic miracle years of the FRG on the way to the “export world champion” delirium were satirically attacked. The cheap accusation of sexism can at least be countered by the fact that the feminist Alice Schwarzer was the first woman on the editorial board of pardon belonged.

Gerhard Kromschröder and Till Kaposty-Bliss curated the brilliantly informative exhibition with around 5,000 caricatures and texts. With its unveiling caricatures and attacking texts pardon not only made an important contribution to enlightenment and to radical criticism of the mustiness of the Adenauer period, but also often got caught in the crosshairs of the judiciary through lawsuits from politicians, business people, the military, former Nazis and churches, who instituted lawsuits or injunctions, which they did in the early years found a hearing in the German judiciary.

The manufacturer of the “Jägermeister” liqueur once filed a lawsuit worth millions because the editors printed a fictitious ad with a child’s sentence: “I drink Jägermeister because my dealer is currently in jail.” Later, the editors countered a criminal complaint by Franz Josef Strauss for defamation with a photo on the front page in which the entire editorial staff dressed up in Bavarian national costume.

The highlights of the magazine were always the title pages: the photomontage with a nun in full regalia, a deep décolleté and a caricature of Che Guevara’s head on her bare skin, for example, met with a great response. The editors also made a name for themselves with spectacular actions that provoked police operations – such as the unveiling of a monument to Heinrich Lübke on the square in front of the Paulskirche.

Aggressive advertising from the cigarette industry outperformed a magazine cover with a photomontage of a skeletal hand holding a row of cigarettes in its mouth, with the slogan: “No nicer death these days.” Bitingly glossed pardon also German Christmas, the festival of peace, in the context of military rearmament in post-war jargon with the photomontage of a playing boy and the weatherproof motto: “Give war toys – so that it will be a handsome guy!”



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