Superman Beat Joseph Goebbels When It Came To Propaganda
It's propaganda week at Cracked! Keep calm and read on.
In 1940, Look magazine commissioned Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for a comic, showing how their relatively new character Superman would handle this whole "world war" situation. He handled it in proper superhero fashion: zipping through battles with zero effort and then defeating whole armies by taking out the bad guys right at the top.
To start with, he knots the cannons along Germany's Siegfried Line, letting the French safely take the field. Then he leaps into Hitler's private cabin (taking out a plane along the way, by punching it) and takes custody of the Fuhrer. Hitler in hand, he runs to Moscow—runs, doesn't fly, as Superman at the time could not yet fly. He grabs Stalin and takes both men to Geneva for judgment.
The Nazis were not pleased with the comic. The story coming out of Berlin was that their own propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, angrily yelled "Superman is Jewish!" at a meeting on the subject. Without context, we don't know if he was trying to downplay the comic by insulting its star or whether he was just especially humiliated by the comic calling Superman's punch a "strictly non-Aryan sock on your jaw." Hopefully, Goebbels used the German word Übermensch for "Superman," for maximum irony.
Kryptonians don't have any Earth religion, but it is fair to call Superman a Jewish creation. Siegel and Shuster were Jewish, and they wrote Superman as a Moses-like figure. If film adaptations are more likely to paint the hero using Christ symbolism, well, Jesus was also a bit of a Moses-like figure.
The Germans responded to the comic the most aggressive way possible: By publishing a response in the official SS magazine, criticizing the comic's inaccuracies and plot holes. His costume, said the magazine, was "lacking all strategic sense and tactical ability." The uniforms on the soldiers were outdated, while the inaccurate approximation of German sounded more like Yiddish. And by arriving at the League of Nations in shorts, Superman ignores the dress code, "as well as the other laws of physics, logic, and life in general."
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Top image: Look