Divide and Conquer, 1942

Cover from Divide and Conquer Pamphlet

Cover from Divide and Conquer Pamphlet

Divide and Conquer, 1942, GPO

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, FDR and the American military had to convince the general public of a “Europe First” strategy. This task became monumental considering popular opinion and animosity swayed toward a Pacific First strategy. The military as well as FDR feared fighting a two front war, needed time for mobilizing/training for war, and had to protect our European allies for a joint venture against Japan. This debate emerged as a key issue in formulating an American military strategy. Who do we attack first? Do we fight a two front war? Which enemy is more of a threat and how can this be measured?  Following the loss of France, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Netherlands, and Britain’s continual struggle to remain above ground under the constant threat of Nazi air raids, one and only one strategy appeared plausible as America prepared for war.

In 1942, Divide and Conquer alongside with The Unconquered People were both published by the Office of Facts and Figures which had been established by  Executive Order 8922 only two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Ultimately, the Office of Facts and Figures joined together with other key government departments/agencies and reorganized as the Office of War Information. This sixteen page pamphlet features a cover illustration of Adolph Hitler hoovering  ominously in the background of John Q. Public. Hitler appears to be whispering rumors to John Q. Public shrouded in a fog of darkness, as Nazi rumors were meant to illicit shock in the average citizen. This cover illustration acknowledges a secret conversation, both hidden and unknown to the larger public and revealed to a select few. Adolph Hitler is also portrayed with a swastika arm band (image of Nazi fascism and the official state symbol of the Third Reich) offset or rather balanced by a hangman’s noose clinched in Hitler’s opposite hand.  The first inscription appears inside the front cover. It is a direct quote from Adolph Hitler’s book entitled Mein Kampf  (1925) of which the first line of the selective stanza reads, “At the bottom of their hearts the great masses of the people are more likely to be poisoned…” On the subsequent page is an illustration of an unknown Nazi soldier carrying his shouldered rifle affixed with a bayonet, his back is turned as he marches away, faceless and unemotional from a recent lynching. Daniel Fitzpatrick’s illustration only displays the lynched bodies from the knee down, the victims feet having been tied together–lacking the ability to struggle against their perpetrator. One victim is wearing shoes while the other is without, implying a violence that moves beyond class. Below their lifeless bodies is a Nazi sign pasted to a building that simply reads “Verboten” (forbidden). The wall opposite features bullet marks and blood stains, a hint of further massacres. The first article featured just below this provocative illustration is entitled “The Story of Nazi Terror…” A simple word map on the entire document reveals consistent phrasings or associations…”Nazi lies…Hitler is wrong…Hitler attacks…Hitler’s war…Hitler’s terror…Hitler cannot lose…Hitler invades…Hitler hopes to destroy…Hitler’s strategy…Hitler, who acts like a terror…” The final page of the document contains over 40 endnotes, with sources ranging from Life magazine to Reader’s Digest and the New York Herald.

The illustrator, Daniel Robert Fitzpatrick was a popular political cartoonist who worked for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Fitzpatrick, a celebrated and talented artist,  received the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 1926 and 1955 for his editorial cartoons. After the war, he donated a majority of his drawings to the State Historical Society of Missouri. Take a closer look at the link above which will take you to a pdf copy of the publication Divide and Conquer and provide a brief comment about this important historical document. The following images are pulled from the original copy as scanned from Dr. Kent Blansett’s private collection:

Divide and Conquer page 3

Daniel R. Fitzpatrick, Divide and Conquer illustration from page 3

Divide and Conquer page 6

Daniel Fitzpatrick Illustration from Divide and Conquer page 6

Divide and Conquer pages 8-9

Daniel Fitzpatrick illustration from Divide and Conquer pages 8-9

Divide and Conquer, page 13

Daniel Fitzpatrick illustration from Divide and Conquer page 13

Divide and Conquer, page 15

Daniel Fitzpatrick illustration from Divide and Conquer page 15


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