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This is the sixty-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous sixty-four.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Nazi Germany once took it upon itself to rebut a Superman comic story.
In a February 1940 issue of Look magazine, almost two years before Pearl Harbor, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were asked to solve the puzzle, “How would Superman end the war?”
Here is their reply:
As one might imagine, the Nazis did not look kindly upon this story. Luckily, thanks to the tireless efforts of historian Randall Bytwerk, we know HOW they responded. Bytwerk has a website where he examines Nazi and East German Propaganda.
He translates the response that appeared in Das Schwarze Korps, the weekly newspaper of the SS, in their April 25, 1940 edition. Click here for the full article, but I’ll show you some choice snippets.
Jerry Siegel, an intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York, is the inventor of a colorful figure with an impressive appearance, a powerful body, and a red swim suit who enjoys the ability to fly through the ether.The inventive Israelite named this pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind “Superman.” He advertised widely Superman’s sense of justice, well-suited for imitation by the American youth.
As you can see, there is nothing the Sadducees won’t do for money!
and, after a brief (mocking) description of the comic in question,
A triumphant final frame shows Superman, the conqueror of death, dropping in at the headquarters of the chatterboxes at the League of Nations in Geneva. Although the rules of the establishment probably prohibit people in bathing suits from participating in their deliberations, Superman ignores them as well as the other laws of physics, logic, and life in general. He brings with him the evil German enemy along with Soviet Russia.Well, we really ought to ignore these fantasies of Jerry Israel Siegel, but there is a catch. The daring deeds of Superman are those of a Colorado beetle. He works in the dark, in incomprehensible ways. He cries “Strength! Courage! Justice!” to the noble yearnings of American children. Instead of using the chance to encourage really useful virtues, he sows hate, suspicion, evil, laziness, and criminality in their young hearts.
Jerry Siegellack stinks. Woe to the American youth, who must live in such a poisoned atmosphere and don’t even notice the poison they swallow daily.
How awesome is that?
Much thanks to Randall Bytwerk for helping us see this little piece of not only comic history, but world history.
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