Propaganda Study: Freikorps

[Fourteen original Freikorps recruitment placards from 1918-1921]

What looks like Nazi propaganda but isn’t? Freikorps recruitment placards.

The Freikorps was Germany’s voluntary militia active mostly after World War I. Although originally formed in 1759, the Freikorps gained in importance after the Great War. The Treaty of Versailles imposed comprehensive restrictions on the German Reichswehr, and as a result the voluntary militia” of the Freikorps gained in importance.

The themes and imagery of the Freikorps were later re-adopted and refined by the National Socialists. A study of National Socialism is incomplete without a careful account of propaganda between the two World Wars and an analysis of the impact that the Freikorps had on World War II.

This collection contains fourteen original Freikorps recruitment placards from 1918–1921, dealing mostly with the shifting German-Polish border (the Silesian Uprisings of 1919 to 1921). Only four placards are depicted here, please contact us for images of all fourteen.

Represented artists include: Albert Birkle (1900–1986), Julius E.F. Gipkens (1883–1968), George Rogier (1884-?), Leo Impekoven (1873–1943), Alexander M. Cay (1887–1971) and Rolf Bethge (1897–1982).

The iconic HALT” placard by Albert Birkle is especially noteworthy. Birkle was a soldier in World War I, who afterwards turned to art. In 1936, on the personal order of Hilter, his art was removed from the Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Nationalgalerie Berlin. His works were seized and deemed Entartete Kunst” [degenerate art]. Birkle described himself as a pacifist and during World War II lived in France. From 1968 to 1978 he created five large stain-glass windows for the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. A fascinating story of a talented young artist who assisted the rise of National Socialism with iconic imagery only to later have his works banned and destroyed.

Another artist who created war posters for Germany and then left prior to World War II is Julius E.F. Gipkens. He immigrated to the United States in 1933. Gipkens is also known for his illustrations in Simplicissimus.

Format All with linen backing. 12 nicely framed (½” or 1½” black frame; 1 ¾” professional matting; glass); 2 unframed. Various large formats. E.g: 28″ x 42″ (71.1 x 106.6 cm), 24″ x 36″ (61 x 91.4 cm).

Condition Generally very good; some with minor repairs; some fine. Please inquire for additional information.

Published Between 1918 and 1921.

Price $15,000 for all 14; prices range from $500 to $3,500 each; those depicted here are $2,000 each, except for HALT by Birkle which is $3,500. Extra shipping and packaging costs apply.


In stock

Stock Code: 1090A20 Collection:


For more information or to request additional photographs, please send an e-mail.

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