The Tank Museum | A New Donation to the Museum's Archives

A New Donation to the Museum's Archives

WW2 French Propaganda Cartoon Books

17th May 2019

‘La Bete est Morte! - La Guerre Mondiale Chez Les Animaux’ (The Beast is Dead! World War II among the Animals) is more than a children’s story. The Archive has recently been donated an original French copy. It was purchased by 90708 Ronald Charles Timms of the Royal Tank Regiment (later Lieutenant Colonel), in May 1944 for his daughter Sarah.

French WW2 Cartoon 2

Written by Victor Dancette and Jacques Zimmermann, and illustrated by the artist Edmond-François Calvo, ‘La Bete Est Morte!’ was started in secret whilst France was under the Nazi occupation.

Recalling the events of the war in the style of a fable and featuring an anamorphic cast, its brightly coloured Disney-esque illustrations deliberately clash with dark and vivid imagery of persecution, torture and death. The cast includes the British as cigar-smoking Bulldogs, Americans as Buffalo and the French as woodland creatures, whilst Germans are portrayed as pigs, wolves and weasels.

An important and effective piece of propaganda, the comic emphasises that despite the suffering, good can prevail. The book is also a contemporary account, while it’s very creation during the occupation was an act of rebellion and resistance.

The comic would be published in two parts during 1944-1945 and translated into English and Dutch following the liberation of France.