Dr. Seuss Goes to War

File this one under It Pays to Browse the Stacks.

Before I checked out my public library’s section on WWII, I had no idea that Theodor Seuss Geisel had a short career drawing political cartoons for the New York newspaper PM

On the back cover:

“this cat is not in the hat.”   Studs Terkel

“…lets us know what happens when Horton hears a heil.”  Art Spiegelman

Dr. Seuss was born into a German-American family which (before prohibition) owned the Springfield brewery  Kalmbach and Geisel, commonly called “come back and guzzle.” 

He was raised Evangelical Lutheran, was against American isolation and neutrality, against Charles Lindbergh, against America First.   He was an interventionist and wanted to show the connections between the isolationists and the Nazis.  He was against racisim and against anti-Semitism, but was stridently racist towards the Japanese.

I learned from this book that Dr. Seuss wrote Yertle the Turtle  about Adolf Hitler.  Of course, I had to go back to the library and check it out.

“Turtles! More turtles!” he bellowed and brayed.
And the turtles way down in the pond were afraid.
They trembled.  They shook.  But they came. They obeyed.
From all over the pond, they came swimming by dozens.
Whole families of turtles, with uncles and cousins.
And all of them stepped on the head of poor Mack.
One after another, they climbed up the stack.

More from Yertle, because it is too rich when you know that it is Hitler.

“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Yertle.
“You’ve no right to talk to the world’s highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There’s nothing, no, NOTHING, that’s higher than me!”

A Catalog of Political Cartoons by Dr. Seuss has all 400 of the cartoons reproduced, including 200 not included in the book.  Click on the cartoons to enlarge them.  They are engaging on many levels.

I’m part of the War Through the Generations Reading Challenge.

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10 thoughts on “Dr. Seuss Goes to War

  1. What a fascinating post!  It jogged my memory and reminded me of another famous children’s author with Nazi Germany connections.  The authors of the Curious George books were German Jews and fled from Europe “just in time”.  Their bio can be found at the Houghton Mifflin site on a post called “Curious about George”.  I love finding out those “hidden” stories about books and authors.

  2. I tell you, Carol, you are amazing. The things you dig up! How interesting. Thank you for sharing the ‘Turtle – Yertel’ poem. Wow. Telling. However, I wonder if in a few years we might not be thinking it was written about our leader(s)? I hope not!

  3. Yertle the Turtle was my favorite book when I was 4, and I knew that he was lampooning Hitler in it (though I found that out when I was older), but I didn’t know the rest of the information you posted.  Fascinating!

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