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World War II: Soviet prisoners of war receiving a medical examination by a medical officer of the German army, 1941/1945. Drawing, ca. 1945.

  • Weber, Andreas Paul, 1893-1980.
Date
[1945?]
Reference
32610i
  • Pictures

About this work

Description

In the centre sits a corpulent elderly German officer, who wears the Iron Cross: he listens through a stethoscope to the chest of an emaciated Russian or Soviet recruit stripped to the waist. Behind the man being examined is a row of similar figures waiting their turn

Accompanied by letter from Professor Sir Michael Howard, 30 October 1986, as follows: "I have consulted my colleague Dr Pogge von Strandmann and we have come to the conclusion that it must be a World War II cartoon. The officers' uniforms, though very old-fashioned, are those of the Wehrmacht, and the prisoners being examined can only be from the Soviet Union. They are presumably being recruited into one of the auxiliary units of the German army - they would not be medically examined otherwise, but simply worked to death - which puts the date between 1942-44. The object must be to mock Nazi propaganda about the splendid Aryan types they were recruiting for the defence of Europe against Bolshevism, but the cartoon could never have been published - at least not in Germany. The style is that of many well known caricaturists who published in satirical journals before these were suppressed in 1933, and it may have been the work of a survivor from the era circulating his work in private. Dr von Strandmann has a collection of those journals and is checking through to see whether he can identify him."

On the other hand, Dr Markus Pöhlmann (Damals, Stuttgart) suggests in a letter of 1 October 2001 that the picture shows the examination of Soviet POWs by a member of the Wehrmacht's medical service during World War II. The doctor wears a regular army uniform with the staff of Aesculapius on his left sleeve. The examined persons are Red Army POWs with military puttees and army caps, shown in a realistic physical shape (especially if they had spent time before in a German prison camp) The scene can be dated to the German-Soviet war years 1941-1945, while the drawing itself should be a German work of the post-1945 period. The SU label excludes Russian provenance: in Russian it would have been CCCP

For the historical context see Joachim Hoffmann, Kaukasien 1942/43: das Deutsche Heer und die Orientvölker der Sowjetunion, Freiburg 1991 (Einzelschriften zur Militärgeschichte 35) The photographs reproduced there, in contrast to the present drawing, show the recruits as being on the whole fit and able

Publication/Creation

[Germany], [1945?]

Physical description

1 drawing : charcoal ; sheet 35.5 x 27 cm

Creator/production credits

The drawing might be the work of Andreas Paul Weber (1893-1980) or a follower of his style. Some of the work of Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) is similar

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 32610i


Where to find it

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