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 three Gimpel books I've published.

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

World War I begins while Gimpel is frolicking in the country. 7-31-1914, 8-1-1914

Front page on July 31, 1914, from the Warheit Yiddish newspaper (Gimpel always appears on the Warheit's last page):

GERMANY DECLARES WAR
 


 
Remember that cartoonists often submit batches of strips at a time - and while war had been brewing all year (the U.S. was actually embroiled in a war in Mexico at the time, a war Gimpel went to for a while), there was no way of knowing July 31, 1914 would be the day. 
 
So here's Sam Zagat's Gimpel Beynish cartoon that appeared on the last page of that same paper. He actually used the English word fellow ("feler").



July 31, 1914: Whether it's his boys or simply a cow - as long as he's stymied by something.
  1. Away, scamps, don't you see I'm talking to somebody?
  2. Understand me - he's a feller who, really...
  3. Furthermore he ... would you just to go hell, loafers?
  4. Sh'ma Yisrael! Gevald, Jews, people! Take a look at those horns!
  5. ....

The next day, August 1 1914, this was the headline:
 Czar Nicholas calls up five million soldiers

And this was the political cartoon Samuel Zagat drew for the front page that day:


THE WAR
 
The cat is Austria and its tail is Hungary. The rat is Serbia. The soldier is Wilhelm and the guy with the sword is Tsar Nicholas II (Tsar Nikolay in Yiddish). Wilhelm is saying: "Nobody can get involved in the war between Austria and Serbia!"

There, now is it clear? World War I was so complicated politically that even historians feel a little queasy trying to explain it. My daughter, historian Hannah Farber, said: "The idea is that Austria-Hungary (a hybrid political unit with Austria the dominant/aggressor entity) is pouncing on an (also aggressive, though tiny) Serbia ..." Wilhelm is telling his cousin Nicholas II: stay out of it.

And here's the Gimpel cartoon that ran on the back page of that same August 1 1914 issue of the Warheit, Gimpel is still having his usual problems in the countryside (which seemed pretty dangerous to city slickers):



August 1, 1914: Mountains in the country are very poetic but not very secure.
  1. Go walk on the mountain, loafers, just let me talk business with this man.
  2. Understand you me, she's a girl who, wow, she has everything going for her, and...
  3. Gevald, the mountain's turning over. Where will I be able to make matches now?
  4. Loafer, what did you have against the mountain? Leave it alone so it doesn't fall down. I need...
  5. A pretty distance to the bottom. How does one get on terra firma again? If I...
  6. ...
  7. That's not much of a journey. It's like Coney Island, but not as flat.
  8. Say, mister! Loafers! Somebody should get me down, they need me at the evening prayer minyan.

7-31-1914
צי זײַנע בנים, צי גלאַט אַ קוה – אַבי מען מאַכט איהם קאַליע.

1
אַװעק, שקצים, איהר זעהט דאָך אַז איך רעד מיט אַ מענשען.
2
פֿאַרשטעהסטו מיך – ער איז אַ פֿעלער װאָס איז אַ מענש קאָטאָרי…
3
הײַנט איז – איהר׳ט אַמאָל געהן אין דער ערד אַרײַן, לױפֿערס?
4
שמע ישראל! גװאַלד, אידען, מענשען! זעה נאָר אַ פּאָאר הערנער!
5
- - - - -

8-1-1914
דיא בערג אין קאָנטרי זײַנען אַפֿילו גאַנץ פּאָעטיש אָבער ניט אַזױ זיכער.

1
געהט זיך אױף דיא בערג, לױפֿערס, אַבי לאָזט מיך רעדען ביזנעס מיט דעם מאַן.
2
פֿאַרשטעהסטו מיך – זיא איז אַ מײדעל װאָס קאָטאָרי, זיא איז מיט אַלע מעלות, און –
3
גװאַלד, דער באַרג קעהרט זיך איבער. װאו װעל איך איצט קענען רעדען שידוכים.
4
לױפֿער, װאָס האָסטו געהאַט צום באַרג? האַלט איהם צו, ער זאָל ניט אומפֿאַלען. איך דאַרף …
5
אַ שעהנער מהלך ביז אַרונטער. װיא אַזױ זעהט מען זיך װידער מיט דער ערד? סײַדען איך…
6

7
נישקשה פֿון אַ יאַזדע, נישקשה. באַלד װיא אין קוני אײַלענד, נאָר עס איז ניט אַזױ גלאַט.
8
סעי, מיסטער! לױפֿערס! זעהט מען זאָל מיך אַרונטערנעהמען; מען דאַרף מיך דאָרט צו מנחה.

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