Journal article

Ewa Stańczyk (2020)

Szaber in post-war Poland: satirising plunder in Polish magazine cartoons (1945-1946)

Short title of the journal Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics

ISSN: Print ISSN: 2150-4857 Online ISSN: 2150-4865

This article explores the representations of plunder in Polish magazine cartoons between 1945 and 1946. More specifically, it discusses how instances of looting or szaber (as it was known in Polish), perpetrated in Poland's so-called Recovered Territories following the expulsions of ethnic Germans, were portrayed by two major magazines, Szpilki and Przekrój. I propose that the satirical cartoons in question were an important (even if rhetorical) form of social engagement and criticism. In this article, I show that not only did it enable magazine editors to comment on but also to critically intervene in widespread lawlessness that erupted in the former German territories. Explored as historical sources, magazine cartoons can not only enable us to describe how graphic representations of plunder entertained, they also demonstrate how satire functioned as a specific cultural practice with which to shape the new post-war order. In that sense, this article reflects implicitly on how cartoons can be productively used as a category of historical analysis. Constituting a passionate response to both social disorder and dispossession that emerged in the aftermath of World War II, satirical cartoons captured the temper of the times in ways that were not accessible to other historical sources.