From the end of the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 until the end of World War I, the Alsace region of France was ruled by the German Empire (and again during WWII). Many of the residents were unhappy about the annexation and retained an allegiance to France.
Jean-Jacques Waltz (1873-1951) was one of those strongly pro-France Alsatian residents who happened to have an aptitude for both illustration and satire. Together with his brother, he drew cartoons mocking German tourists to the region, among other similar subject matter, which were published in school magazines under their adopted pseudonym of Hansi.
Waltz eventually took over the pseudonym as his own and studied art and had his illustrations featured in newspapers while his brother became a pharmacist. Prior to the outbreak of the great war, Hansi published a couple of very popular illustrated books which continued the satirical portrayal of Germans, particularly those in authority, and so displeased the German government that he was sentenced to a year in jail. The start of the war and the embarrassing publicity for the goverment enabled his early release after which Hansi enlisted and served as a translator.
One of those books that secured both his notoriety and infamy was Mon Village, Ceux qui n'Oublient pas [My Village that won't be Forgotten] which was released in 1913. Despite being a children's book, the richly detailed illustrations contain unflattering depictions of Germans (or at least heavily stereotyped). No doubt there are further symbolic elements at play beyond the imagery in the clouds above.
Hansi pursued illustrating between the wars and published a few more books. But he remained unpopular with the German leaders, culminating in a severe beating by the gestapo during WWII. He ended up living in Switzerland until end of the war.
- The complete digitized edition of Mon village, ceux qui n'oublient pas is online as part of the University of Wisconsin Literature Collection, with very high resolution images available. I love their websites - all other repositories would do well to take lessons.
- A dodgy website with biographical information about Hansi.
- The Hansi page at the GreatWarDifferent website ---- the parent site has a very large collection of magazine and book illustrations, postcards, articles and photographs relating to the Great War - well worth checking out.
- Hansi bookart, posters, postcards and prints.
- Le musée HANSI et La Biographie de Jean-Jacques Waltz dit Hansi.