These illustrations are from the children’s book Hurray! A War Picture-Book by the magazine illustrator and commercial advertising artist Herbert Rikli (c. 1880-1939). It tells the story of the German boy little Willi and his Austrian friend Franzl butchering or striking dead French, English, Russian and Serbian men, or throwing bombs against other enemies. Rikli also composed the verses.
The propaganda of Germany and Austria-Hungary’s governments at the beginning of World War One was relatively restrained. But few publishers and authors held back. In this book the enemies are all described as stupid and cowardly. The illustrations are glorifying and discriminating. In this manipulative and propagandistic way the children learned about the enemies of Germany as well as Austria-Hungary, and how to divide the fighting countries into good or evil. Willi and Franzl destroy every opponent they encounter, all the while accompanied by a cute-looking pet dog. When Willi discovers their adventure was only a dream, he is disappointed he hadn’t killed all those enemies after all.
A war picture book
Dear Fatherland, rest assured. We won’t let anyone in!
Loewe publishing house
Little Willi heard a lot about the war,
Of combat and victory and the battle roar
And often his little heart grew heavy:
Oh, if only I could be a soldier,
Then I too would fight for the Fatherland,
With a sword in my hand.
And I too would have a rifle
And a mortar, big and heavy,
I would shoot with bullet and shot,
The enemies all stone dead
What Willi’s heart desired,
Father Christmas granted.
“Hurray!” he cried, full of joy,
“Hurray! Now I shall go into battle!”
But for now the young man looked
At the animals in the Christmas book
Because little Willi found
This especially interesting.
And Butzi, Willi’s little dog,
Found the pictures pretty.
But when the clock struck ten,
Willi was carried to bed.
The sandman came and scattered sand,
And soon he was in dreamland.
And Butz, his little dog, faithful and wise,
Was as usual by his side.
But now, children, pay attention you might,
To what Willi dreamed in the night:
Angels of war fly through the air.
Calling the Fatherland to war.
Stationed on the banks of the Rhine,
Little Willi loyally keeps guard.
But wait, what lurks yonder
With drum and rifle?
I really think they are Frenchmen,
They are wearing such red trousers.