By John Olday (Freedom Press)
We tend to remember World War Two as a battle of opposites, of united fronts and ubiquitous evil, of Us and Them. It’s valuable to be reminded that even under the most calamitous conditions and clearest of threats, dissent is part of the human psyche and our most valuable birthright.
The March to Death is an unashamed political tract, a collection of anti-war cartoons and tellingly appropriate quotations first published in 1943 by Freedom Press, the Anarchist publishing organisation (from whom you can still obtain a copy should you wish – please contact the CCG for address details or do that Google thing).
Comics and cartoons are an astonishingly powerful tool for education as well as entertainment and the images rendered by German emigré John Olday (neé Arthur William Oldag) are blistering attacks on the World Order of all nations that had led humanity so inexorably to a second global conflagration in less than a generation. He drew most of the images whilst serving in the British Royal Pioneer Corps before deserting in 1943 for which he was imprisoned until 1946. The accompanying text was selected by his colleague and artistic collaborator Marie Louise Berneri, a French Anarchist thinker who moved to Britain in 1937.
The 1995 edition has a wonderfully informative foreword by Donald Rooum which paints the time and the tone for the young and less politically informed. This is a work that all serious advocates of the graphic image as more than a vehicle for bubble gum should know of and champion.
© 1943, 1995 Freedom Press.