First World War propaganda map portraying Prussia as an octopus

Maurice Neumont / P.J. Gallais et Cie., Edit. Imp., En 1788 MIRABEAU disait deja : LA GUERRE est l’industrie Nationale de la PRUSSE [“Already in 1788 Mirabeau was saying: War is the national industry of Prussia.”] Paris, [1917.]
Lithograph printed in colors, 23 5/8”h x 31 ½”w at sheet edge. Backed with heavy canvas.

A brutally-effective propaganda map comparing Germany to a monstrous octopus threatening Europe. 

Germany is shown in different shadings of red, indicating its numerous annexations of surrounding territory since 1740, the most recent being the 1871 seizure of Alsace-Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War. Sprawled across Germany is a large octopus in a Prussian spiked helmet (“Pickelhaube”), its tentacles extended to wrap around essentially all of Europe. At far right a bar chart of sorts represents the historical growth in the size and ferocity of the Prussian army, from something cartoon-like in the 18th-century (though that hardly does justice to Frederick the Great!) to the massive, looming ogre of the First World War.

This propaganda map uses several prominent textual elements to support the visual argument. Superimposed on France is a recent declaration from the Chamber of Deputies: “Invaded 47 years ago, Alsace-Lorraine is no different from the French departments invaded three years ago.” Splashed across the Mediterranean in bright-red letters is a quote from the pan-Germanist “All-Deutscher Verband,” pronouncing that “The German people must rise as a nation of masters above the inferior nations of Europe.” In the lower margin General Petain exhorts the French people “Under attack, we are merely defending ourselves in the name of Liberty and to preserve our lives.”

The map was drawn by Parisian artist Maurice Neumont (1868-1930) at the behest of “La Conference au Village contre la Propagande ennemie en France.” The Conference was established in 1917 for the purpose of advancing the patriotic cause in rural and provincial France by distributing more effective propaganda and countering similar German efforts.

Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Collection #1185. Rumsey #8865. OCLC lists six examples in institutional collections, including the Bibliotheque nationale, Boston Athenaeum, British Library, and Library of Congress.


Evenly toned. Some repairs to edges, including a very slight loss to upper-left corner and a nicely-mended tear at right extending several inches into the image.