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The Octopus of Prussian Aggression

Rare early 20th Century propaganda map, illustrating Prussia as an Octopus attempting to capture all of Europe.

Germany is shown in different shadings of red, indicating its numerous annexations of surrounding territory since 1740, the most recent being the 1871 seizure of Alsace-Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War. Sprawled across Germany is a large octopus in a Prussian spiked helmet ("Pickelhaube"), its tentacles extended to wrap around essentially all of Europe. The map provides a visual graphic depicts the growing menace of the Prussian Army, representing the historical growth in the size and ferocity of the Prussian army.

This propaganda map uses several prominent textual elements to support the visual argument. Superimposed on France is a recent declaration from the Chamber of Deputies: "Invaded 47 years ago, Alsace-Lorraine is no different from the French departments invaded three years ago." Splashed across the Mediterranean in bright-red letters is a quote from the pan-Germanist "All-Deutscher Verband," pronouncing that "The German people must rise as a nation of masters above the inferior nations of Europe." In the lower margin General Petain exhorts the French people "Under attack, we are merely defending ourselves in the name of Liberty and to preserve our lives."

The map was drawn by Parisian artist Maurice Neumont (1868-1930) at the behest of "La Conference au Village contre la Propagande ennemie en France." The Conference was established in 1917 for the purpose of advancing the patriotic cause in rural and provincial France by distributing more effective propaganda and countering similar German efforts.


There seem to be at least 2 editions of the map, using 2 different printing processes.  All editions are quite rare.

The present example is the smaller version of the map. This is the first time we have seen this reduced size version.

Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Collection #1185. Rumsey #8865. OCLC lists six examples in institutional collections, including the Bibliotheque nationale, Boston Athenaeum, British Library, and Library of Congress.