Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker
(Gimpl Beynish der Shadkhn)
Yiddish Comics of the early 20th century

Translation and commentary by Jane Peppler
Click here to read about and order the six Gimpel books I've published.

Comics read right to left. Click on any comic strip for larger view.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

America's immigrant Jews weigh in on the war: 8-7-1914, 8-8-1914

I'm illiterate when it comes to political history, but I've been told Socialists of the time, creators and readers of the Warheit, tended to see war in general as a political gimmick bad for the working classes and had no love for any of the major players. There didn't seem to be any good guys in this war.

On the other hand, many young immigrants tended to love Franz Josef and hate Czar Nicholas II. Those of this persuasion were hothead proponents of the war and some even tried going abroad to fight the Russians -- to their mothers' sorrow. The second cartoon here, though, proves some opposed this view vociferously! It was like cheering for opposing football teams for many Americans, immigrants or not, who thought the US would never be involved in this confusing European conflict.

Immigrants, already looked on with suspicion, had to be careful what they said or, as the Gimpel strip warns, they might be branded as spies or even beaten up. Gimpel has his own agenda, which is to get the whole world married. War takes away promising young bachelors, so he doesn't like it, that's his angle.



August 7, 1914: These days you've got to know who you're talking to.
  1. GB: The young punks get taken to Europe and not me. A plague on all wars.
  2. GB: Why are you standing there in a haze? What are you worried about? Let others go to war.
  3. GB: Understand me -- I think, to hell with Czar Nikolai and Franz Josef and ...
  4. Austrian Patriot: You want Franz Josef to go to hell? You're a Russian spy!
  5. GB: And I thought in America one could curse all kings.

Below, the political cartoon Samuel Zagat drew for the front page of the August 8, 1914 edition of the Warheit. It turns on two of the meanings of arumnemen: "To embrace" and "To seize/take over."
Title: "Nikolai's kiss."
A telegram/dispatch yesterday declared that Nikolay had called to the French envoys that he should be joined, kissed, and he said firther that he would embrace/seize/take over  and kiss all of France.
Bottom, Nikolai to France: "Little dove, little woman, I love you so."


And here's the cartoon that ran on the back page that same day.

August 8, 1914: These days it's much healthier to avoid debating the war.
  1. Moyshe: That's what you say - Russia will lose the war? I'll soon break all your bones.
  2. Chaim: France and England are stronger than Germany? I'll soon split your head.
  3. Yosel: Nikolay will win? Come here, Sir Pig, I'll show you how Austria will bury Russia.
  4. Jake: Well, Mister Gimpel Beynish - who do you think will win the war, Germany or ...
  5. GB: I'll tell you the truth, I've never given it a thought.

8-7-1914
הײַנטיגע צײַטען דאַרף מען װיסען מיט װעמען מען רעדט.

1
גימפּעל בײניש: דיא יונגאַטשעס נעהמט מען קײן יוראָפּ און מיך ניט, אַ ניכפּע אױף אַלע מלחמות.
2
גימפּעל בײניש: װאָס שטעהסטו אַזױ פֿאַרטראַכט? װאָס אַרט דיך? זאָלען אַנדערע געהן אין מלחמה.
3
גימפּעל בײניש: פֿאַרשטעהסטו מיך – האָב אין דער ערד צאַר ניקאָלאַי מיט קײזער פֿראַנץ יאָזעף מיט…
4
עסטרײַכער פּאַטריאָט: פֿראַנץ יאָזעף׳ן האָבען אין דער ערד? רוסישער שפּיאָן װאָס דו ביסט!
5
גימפּעל בײניש: אַבי איך האָב געמײנט אַז אין אַמעריקאַ מעג מען שעלטען אַלע קיסרים.

8-8-1914
ניקאָלאַי׳ס קוש:

אַ נעכטיגע דעפּעשע מעלדעט, אַז נילאָלאַי האָט צוגערופֿען דעם פֿראַנצױזישען געזאַנדטען אַרומגענן מען איהם, אַ קוש געטהאָן און געזאָגט אַז דאָס נעהטמט ער אַרום און קושט גאַנץ פֿראַנקרײַך.
ניקאָלאַי צו פֿראַנקרײַך: ״גאָלובאָשקאַ, דזשענקאַ, איך האָב דיך אַזױ ליעב.״


8-8-1914
הײַנטיגע צײַטען איז פֿיעל געזונטער ניט צו דעבאַטירן װעגען דער מלחמה.

1
משה: אַזױ זאָגט איהר – רוסלאַנד װעט פֿאַרלירען דיא מלחמה? איך ברעך אײַך באַלד אַלע בײנער.
2
חײם: פֿראַנקרײַך און ענגלאַנד זײַנען שטאַרקער פֿון דײַטשלאַנד? איך שפּאַלט אײַך דעם קאָפּ באַלד.
3
יאָסעל: ניקאָלאַי װעט געװינען? קומט אַהער, פּאַניע חזיר, װעל איך אײַך װײַזען װיא עסטרײַך װעט באַגראָבען רוסלאַנד.
4
דזשײק: נו, מיסטער גימפּעל בײניש – װער, דענקט איהר, װעט געװינען דיא מלחמה – דײַטשלאַנד דיא –
5
גימפּעל בײניש: איך׳ל דיר זאָגען דעמ אמת: איך האָב נאָר װעגען דעם אַפֿילו ניט געקלעהרט.

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