War and peace 1936-1937

War and peace 1936-1937

  • National day of peace

    CARLU Jean (1900 - 1997)

  • Christmas 1936

    WILCHAR (1911)

  • Communism is war


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Title: National day of peace

Author : CARLU Jean (1900 - 1997)

Creation date : 1936

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Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage location: CIRIP / Gesgon

Contact copyright: © ADAGP, © CIRIP - Photo Alain GESGON - All rights reserved

National day of peace

© ADAGP, CIRIP - Photo Alain GESGON - All rights reserved

© Contemporary Collections

Communism is war

© Contemporary Collections

Publication date: October 2003

Historical context

The Popular Front and the Spanish Civil War

On July 18, 1936, General Franco's putsch brought Spain into a civil war, a prolegomena and a field of maneuver for the war to come. Popular Front organizations split. Should everything be done, including war, to prevent fascism from reigning at the borders or, on the contrary, to save peace at all costs? War or peace, at the heart of clashes, invade propaganda.

Image Analysis

Represent peace, represent war.

In the interwar period, the poster was one of the preferred modes of expression of this propaganda. A few examples show its graphic efficiency.

The two posters explicitly calling for peace originate from the Universal Peace Rally (mentioned on one of them). Created at the end of 1935 in the communist movement, this association however recruits its members far beyond its ranks by claiming to respect the principles of the League of Nations. The first poster is the work of Jean Carlu, one of the major architects of the renewal of this mode of graphic expression in France from 1925. It invites the national day of peace initiated by the RUP. This day is supported by the Ministry of National Education, by virtue of the unprecedented relations then established between the Popular Front government and the associations that contributed to its victory. The second poster is the work of Belgian Wilchar. Made for Christmas 1936, it is a good illustration of the syncretic nature of Popular Front culture. The two posters represent the terrestrial globe. Whether at peace or threatened, at least it appears in blue like the heavens that we see in Carlu's poster (but the color of earth, although starry, in Wilchar's poster ). This is a way of saying that no conflict can remain local and, implicitly, of taking a position on the war in Spain, which is not openly mentioned on any of the posters. Only the second shows war symbolically represented by a snake, in the animal tradition of hydras. But a hand, reminiscent of the clenched fist that has become emblematic of the Popular Front, makes the snake throat.

The poster assimilating communism to war bears no organizational signature and is therefore given as an expression of common evidence (equal to that of Wilchar). Communism, the only designated adversary, is represented by its flag. It is in tatters but does not merge less, the color helping, with the explosion of the bombs, in the center of the poster. It is likened to a story, that of Spain, summarized in three episodes: the strike yesterday, the bombs today and the war. But the black silhouettes of the first and third sequences rather evoke the strikes of 1936 and, without question, the hairy men shot in the trenches. The bombs which then fell on Spain were, for them and in fact, of Italian and especially German origin. This is a constant confusion that owes to the graphic efficiency of the central explosion and to the unification achieved by the color being perfectly erased.


Images with reversed fronts

The figures adopted allow the parties behind these posters to fight with reversed fronts, which is a necessity for them. Anti-fascist organizations cannot accept the idea of ​​a necessary war to which many of their supporters will nevertheless rally. They put forward the defense of peace and both use the image of childhood: one through the Ministry of National Education, the other through the figure of this Jesus. looking like a little prince before the hour, flanked by his sheep. The slogan, for its part, plays an advertising role by establishing the needs of the child as an argument, not of sales here, but of rallying. The opposing party, which does not speak its name, is careful not to display an shameful pacifism, because it is suspected of collusion with the threatening fascism. She prefers to construct a horrifying image of warmongering communism. The future divisions between Munich and anti-Munich are, here, graphically already at work.

  • Communism
  • Popular Front
  • peace
  • war
  • snake
  • war in spain
  • League of Nations (League of Nations)


Eric NADAUD, The new socialist activism, in Le Mouvement social, n ° 153, December 1990.Danielle TARTAKOWSKY The Popular Front, life is ours Paris, Gallimard coll. “Découvertes”, 1996.

To cite this article

Danielle TARTAKOWSKY, "War and Peace 1936-1937"

Video: War and Peace BBC 1972 Part 18 - The Retreat