Date

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Adviser

Savage, John

Abstract

Justin Kauffman, History, Lehigh University Abstract of Master's Thesis, Submitted August 15, 2014:The aim of this thesis is to examine a conflict of Communist politics in the last pre-Nazi years of Germany's Weimar Republic through the photomontages of Communist Party member John Heartfield. The research investigates a moment when a radical Communist artist sacrificed his commitment to party line to reach the leftist masses with his propaganda.In the first part of the thesis, a background on Heartfield is provided to in order to present a trajectory leading up to his propaganda work for the Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ or Worker's Illustrated Magazine). Following this background, the discussion delves into an analysis of the photomontage in 1930 and 1931 starting with a brief comparison to election posters of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Communist Party of Germany or KPD). This section uses the photomontage visuals and articles written about the medium in order to outline the aesthetic and practical value of the photomontage as an appealing, widespread form of propaganda. In the final part of the thesis, an analysis of Heartfield's photomontages from July 1932 until February 1933 is presented along with the context of political conflict in the KPD. This section starts by exploring the moment in July 1932 when Heartfield went against the KPD party line with a montage that proposed a united front coalition with Social Democrats. In conclusion, the thesis argues that Heartfield's decision to go against party line contributed to the political conflict among German Communists in 1932. Heartfield was willing to undermine short-term changes in KPD policy for the immediate need of reaching his broad audience with what he considered the correct political message.

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