Unveiling the Artistry of Erich Ohser: A Journey Through Satirical Illustrations

OV Digital Desk
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Erich Ohser

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Erich Ohser (18 March 1903 – 5 April 1944) was a German cartoonist, best known for his work under the pseudonym “e.o. plauen.” Also known for his strip Vater und Sohn (“Father and Son”).

Life and Career

He was born on 18 March 1903 in Untergettengrün, Germany (now Czech Republic). Ohser began his career as a commercial artist, designing advertisements and working as an illustrator for various publications. In 1928, he started creating cartoons for the German satirical magazine “Simplicissimus.” He adopted the pseudonym “e.o. plauen,” which stands for “Erich Ohser from Plauen,” his hometown.

Ohser’s most famous creation was the comic strip “Father and Son,” which he started drawing in 1934. The strip featured a middle-aged father and his young son and was notable for its simple, expressive style and its humorous yet poignant depictions of everyday life in Nazi Germany. Despite its popularity, the strip was controversial with the Nazi authorities, who felt it was too critical of the regime. In 1940, Ohser was forced to cease production of “Father and Son” under pressure from the authorities.

Ohser continued to work as a cartoonist and illustrator during World War II, creating anti-Nazi caricatures for underground publications. In 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and accused of distributing anti-Nazi propaganda. He was held in custody for several weeks before taking his own life in his cell on April 5, 1944.

Today, Ohser is remembered as one of the most important cartoonists of the 20th century in Germany, and his work is still widely admired for its humor, humanity, and artistic skill.

He continued to work under pseudonyms, and from 1940, began again to produce cartoons on political themes. He was arrested on charges of expressing anti-Nazi opinions. On 5 April 1944, the day before his trial, Ohser committed suicide in his cell.

Notabel Works

Erich Ohser, widely recognized by his pseudonym “e.o.plauen,” left behind a legacy of notable works, primarily in the realm of cartooning and illustration. Among his most significant contributions are:

  • “Vater und Sohn” (“Father and Son”): Ohser’s most famous creation, “Vater und Sohn,” is a comic strip series that portrays the endearing and humorous interactions between a father and his young son. This iconic strip, known for its simplicity, warmth, and relatability, became immensely popular and remains beloved by readers to this day.
  • Political and Satirical Cartoons: Ohser was renowned for his sharp wit and keen observations of society and politics. His political and satirical cartoons, often published in newspapers and magazines, provided incisive commentary on the turbulent political landscape of pre-war and wartime Germany. These cartoons tackled themes such as authoritarianism, militarism, and social injustice.
  • Illustrations for Children’s Books: Beyond his work in comics and political cartoons, Ohser also lent his artistic talents to the illustration of children’s books. His illustrations captured the imagination of young readers, bringing characters and stories to life with his distinctive style and attention to detail.
  • Editorial Cartoons: Ohser contributed numerous editorial cartoons to various publications, employing his wit and artistic skill to comment on current events, social issues, and cultural phenomena. His editorial cartoons often combined humor with insightful commentary, making them both entertaining and thought-provoking.
  • Legacy in German Literature and Art: Ohser’s influence extends beyond his individual works; he is remembered as a pioneering figure in German cartooning and illustration. His contributions to the art form have left an indelible mark on German literature and art, inspiring subsequent generations of artists and cartoonists.

Erich Ohser’s notable works not only entertained and enlightened audiences during his lifetime but continue to resonate with readers and art enthusiasts today. Through his comic strips, cartoons, and illustrations, Ohser left behind a rich and enduring legacy that continues to be celebrated and appreciated for its humor, insight, and artistic excellence.

Award and Legacy

Despite his relatively short career, Erich Ohser’s contributions to cartooning and satire have had a lasting impact.

In 1948, Ohser was posthumously awarded the prestigious Wilhelm Busch Prize, which recognizes excellence in German-language comic art. In 1989, a museum dedicated to Ohser and his work was opened in his hometown of Plauen, Germany.

Ohser’s most famous creation, “Father and Son,” has been translated into several languages and continues to be popular around the world. The strip’s depiction of a loving but flawed father-son relationship, as well as its satirical commentary on life under Nazi rule, have made it a classic of the genre.

Ohser’s influence can also be seen in the work of many contemporary cartoonists, who cite him as an inspiration and a pioneer of modern comic art. Despite the tragic circumstances of his death, Ohser’s legacy as an artist and satirist continue to be celebrated and appreciated today.

On 18 March 2018, Google celebrated Erich Ohser’s 115th birthday with a doodle.

FAQ on Erich Ohser

Who was Erich Ohser?

Erich Ohser, also known by his pseudonym “e.o.plauen,” was a German cartoonist and illustrator best known for his satirical and political cartoons. He gained fame for his work during the interwar period in Germany.

What is Erich Ohser best known for?

Erich Ohser is best known for his creation of the comic strip “Vater und Sohn” (“Father and Son”), which featured humorous and heartwarming vignettes depicting the daily lives and interactions of a father and his mischievous young son. This comic strip gained widespread popularity and became iconic in German literature and culture.

When did Erich Ohser create “Vater und Sohn”?

Erich Ohser began creating “Vater und Sohn” in 1934, during the tumultuous years of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany. Despite the political climate, Ohser’s comic strip provided a lighthearted escape for readers, offering a humorous portrayal of everyday life.

Why did Erich Ohser use the pseudonym “e.o.plauen”?

Erich Ohser adopted the pseudonym “e.o.plauen” to conceal his identity and protect himself from potential repercussions for his political cartoons, which often criticized the Nazi regime. The name “plauen” refers to the city in Saxony, Germany, where Ohser was born.

What themes did Erich Ohser explore in his cartoons?

In addition to his work on “Vater und Sohn,” Erich Ohser created numerous satirical cartoons that addressed social, political, and cultural issues of his time. He used his illustrations to critique authoritarianism, militarism, and social inequality, often employing subtle humor and irony to convey his message.

What happened to Erich Ohser during World War II?

During World War II, Erich Ohser’s anti-Nazi sentiments became increasingly evident in his cartoons, leading to his arrest by the Gestapo in 1944. He was charged with “defeatist behavior” and imprisoned. Tragically, unable to bear the thought of living under Nazi rule, Ohser took his own life in February 1944 while still in custody.

What is Erich Ohser’s legacy?

Erich Ohser’s legacy is twofold: he is celebrated as the creator of the beloved comic strip “Vater und Sohn,” which continues to enchant readers with its timeless humor and charm, and he is remembered as a courageous artist who used his talent to resist oppression and advocate for freedom and justice.

Where can I view Erich Ohser’s artwork?

Erich Ohser’s artwork, including his cartoons and illustrations, can be found in various museums, archives, and online collections dedicated to German literature, art, and history. Additionally, compilations of his “Vater und Sohn” comic strips have been published and are available for purchase.

How did Erich Ohser’s cartoons influence later generations of artists?

Erich Ohser’s cartoons, characterized by their wit, humanity, and social commentary, have inspired numerous artists and cartoonists over the years. His ability to address complex issues with simplicity and humor continues to resonate with audiences worldwide, leaving an indelible mark on the world of cartooning and illustration.

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