Start Over

We make History

  • In 1940, émigré artist Richard Ziegler, using the pseudonym Robert Ziller, published the book [i]We Make History[/i] with the Allen & Unwin publishing house in London.
  • Book
  • We make History

    Word Count: 3

  • Robert Ziller(Richard Ziegler)
  • 1940
  • 1940
  • Allen & Unwin, Ruskin House, 40 Museum Street, Bloomsbury (now Holborn), London WC1.

  • London (GB)
  • In 1940, émigré artist Richard Ziegler, using the pseudonym Robert Ziller, published the book We Make History with the Allen & Unwin publishing house in London.

    Word Count: 25

  • In 1940, under the pseudonym Robert Ziller, the artist Richard Ziegler (1891–1992) published We Make History with the Allen & Unwin publishing house in London. The book was a compilation of caricatures of politicians of the National Socialist regime – and also included drawings of their victims, such as the murdered Theodor Lessing.
    A self-taught artist, Richard Ziegler created portraits of the people of Berlin during the 1920s, as well as other types of subject, such as the erotic nude Junge Witwe (Das zweite Ich) (1925) (Schlichtenmaier 1989). Shortly after the National Socialists came to power, Ziegler left Germany, emigrating first to the Dalmatian island of Korčula and then to England in 1937. Ziegler lived in Croydon, now part of London, and worked initially as a portrait painter. In 1940, he was interned in the Huyton internment camp close to Liverpool. On his return to London, Ziegler worked as an illustrator for a variety of publications, including Die Zeitung, the emigrant newspaper, and Lilliput, a pocket magazine. Ziegler received British citizenship in 1948, but left England for Mallorca in 1962.

    The monotypes for We Make History were created during Ziegler’s interim exile on Korčula. His starting point was the newspaper reports on the National Socialist leaders that he was able to get hold of (Rogge 1983, 19). Ziegler based his drawings on photographs from these publications and the resulting portraits are juxtaposed with a selction of quotations emphasising the malice, mendacity and obedience to authority of his subjects.

    His portrait of Reich Youth Leader (Reichsjugendführer) Baldur von Schirach shows him in Bavarian costume, a pipe in his mouth and squeezed into tight leather trousers. Ziegler emphasises Schirach's corpulent midriff, oversized knees and short arms, and makes him appear like an oversized boy or a man in a child’s body – a reference to the National Socialist youth education programme to which Schirach was committed. Schirach does not, however, in this representation, appear childlike or appealing, but rather bloated and coarse. There have been suggestions that the portrait also alludes to Schirach’s suspected homosexuality. Another drawing from We Make History shows Franz von Papen, the Reich's ambassador in Ankara at the time of the book's publication and Hitler’s former vice chancellor. Von Papen’s deep-set, squinting eyes are centred around an overlong nose, the right ear protrudes from his head and the whole face seems to be out of joint, the subject's distinguished expression marred by built-in “flaws” as he pronounces that “Germany has struck the word pacifism from its vocabulary”. This quote, placed alongside the portrait, effectively makes the point that noble lineage and morality do not necessarily go together. Ziegler’s bold strokes both simplify and emphasise the decadent character of the Nazi elite.

    Some of the theories of Ernst Kris and Ernst H. Gombrich, both of whom were also living in exile in England, can be applied to Ziegler’s caricatures for We Make History. Portrait caricatures are in a reciprocal relationship with their real-life models and should possess both similarity and recognisability. According to Kris, it is not the exaggeration of individual body parts that is decisive, but rather the essence of the caricatured person must be captured in the overall image in such a way that the model remains recognisable even in the face of grotesque exaggerations or even transformation into fruit or animal. The “social function” of the caricature is only fulfilled by its recognisability, which allows the viewer access to the humour in the depiction (Kris 1934, 462). Ziegler’s drawings are not so much parody as a radical and relentless perspectivisation of the existing (Taylor 1983, 5): eye sockets become black holes and wrinkles become gouges chiselled into the epidermis.

    In the midst of a raging war and with the very real threat of a Nazi invasion of England, anti-Nazi propaganda was a means of resistance for artists like Ziegler. He was clearly aware of the hostile reception his book would receive in Germany, no doubt the reason he anonymised his name to protect relatives still living there. Some of Ziegler’s drawings for We Make History were also printed in Die Zeitung, the emigrant newspaper. These included his caricature of Franz von Papen (Die Zeitung, 29 March 1941, p. 3) and his portrait of Rudolf Hess (Die Zeitung, 16 May 1941, p. 4). We Make History was translated into three other languages: the Danish edition Vi skaber Historie was published in 1945 by J. Frimodts Forlag, Copenhagen; the Dutch edition Wij maken Geschidenis was printed by Het Hollandsche Uitgevershuis, Amsterdam; and the Yugoslavian translation Mi stvaramo istoriju appeared in 1946 with Izdanje Medunarodne Knjizarnice, Belgrade.

    Word Count: 756

  • Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler]. We Make history. Allen & Unwin, 1940, cover (© Richard Ziegler).
  • Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler]. We Make history. Allen & Unwin, 1940, n.p.: Joseph Goebbels (© Richard Ziegler).
    Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler]. We Make history. Allen & Unwin, 1940, n.p.: Rudolf Hess (© Richard Ziegler).
    Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler]. We Make history. Allen & Unwin, 1940, n.p.: Baldur von Schirach (© Richard Ziegler).
    Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler]. We Make history. Allen & Unwin, 1940, n.p., Franz von Papen (© Richard Ziegler).
    Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler], Quislings (I.): “Qui mange du Papen, en meurt", in Die Zeitung, 29 March 1941, p. 3 (© Richard Ziegler).
    Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler]. We Make history, Allen & Unwin, 1940, n.p.: Adolf Hitler (© Richard Ziegler).
  • Dogramaci, Burcu. “Der Stift als Seziermesser im englischen Exil. Politische Zeichnungen von Richard Ziegler und Walter Trier für Die Zeitung.” Exil im Krieg (1939–1945), edited by Hiltrud Häntzschel et al., V&R, 2016, pp. 99–110.

    Hiepe, Richard. “Deutschland ist erwacht. Die antifaschistischen Zeichnungen von Richard Ziegler.” Sammlung. Jahrbuch für antifaschistische Literatur und Kunst, vol. 2, edited by Uwe Naumann, Röderberg, 1979, pp. 80–87.

    Kris, Ernst. “Zur Psychologie der Karikatur.” Imago, vol. 20, 1934, pp. 450–466.

    Richard Ziegler. Bücher und Bilderbogen. Zum 90. Geburtstag, exh. cat. Heimatmuseum Calw, Calw, 1981.

    Rogge, Heiko. “Die Richard-Ziegler-Stiftung in Calw.” Richard Ziegler Stiftung Calw, exh. cat. Richard-Ziegler-Stiftung, Calw, 1983, pp. 5–28.

    Schlichtenmaier, Bert. “Zu Richard Zieglers Werk der zwanziger Jahre.” Richard Ziegler, geb. 1891 in Pforzheim, exh. cat. Galerie Schlichtenmaier, Grafenau, 1989, pp. 9–13.

    Taylor, John Russell. “Introduction.” Richard Ziegler. The Berlin Twenties, exh. cat. Camden Arts Centre, London, 1983, pp. 3–5.

    Word Count: 135

  • Burcu Dogramaci
  • London
  • No
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "We make History." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 12-05-2021.
  • Die Zeitung

    From 1941 to 1945, the émigré German-language newspaper Die Zeitung was published in London, reporting on the war on the continent and on the situation in Germany.

    Word Count: 25


    The magazine Lilliput, founded by the émigré journalist Stefan Lorant in 1937, gave work to emigrated artists and photographers such as Kurt Hutton, Walter Suschitzky, Walter Trier and Edith Tudor-Hart.

    Word Count: 29