Cover "Fliegende Blätter"

Fliegende Blätter

Munich, Vol. 1. 1845 (No. 1) – Vol. 160. 1924 (No. 4099)
Vol. 80. 1924 (No. 4100) – Vol. 100. 1944 (No. 5174);
Inserts Vol. 52. 1870 – Vol. 70. 1879 (No. 9)
Vol. 70. 1879 (No. 10) – Vol. 158. 1923

together 91,610 pages on 974 microfiches
1998, ISBN 3-89131-278-4
Diazo (negative): EUR 4,860.– / Silver (positive): EUR 6,560.–

The Fliegende Blätter, made almost proverbial with all the accompanying associations of «leaflets» and «scattered» papers, can make claims to record status in at least three different categories: First: they are the oldest of those German satirical leaflets which raised the equalisation of text and illustration to the level of conscious agenda, and then consistently followed through on it. Second: they are the longest-running exemplar of their particular kind, and one of the specially long-lived in the history of the periodicals in general. Begun
in 1845 – three years before the eminently meaningful year (for picture-satire journalism, among other things) of 1848 – they appeared without hiatus for one hundred years thereafter. Only in 1944, in the final catastophe of the second World War, did they succumb. They were older than the Kladderadatsch, which managed a publication life from 1848 to the same closing year of 1944. Third: they are easily the most richly and intensively illustrated German periodical of this kind, at least for their time in the nineteenth century. Pictures – sometimes several pictures – are to be found on nearly every page.

The Fliegende Blätter and similar press products have usually been categorized under the label «humorous». However, there exist generally accepted definitions neither for this concept, nor for that of «satirical», and all attempts in these directions have remained overwhelmingly abstract. But when one approaches the actual material and tries to consider the Fliegende Blätter, for example, not only from the modern perspective but also from that perspective which its contemporaries presumably enjoyed, it is certain that many more texts and pictures will be described, with at least some justification, as »satirical« (rather than humorous), whether it be in relation to the political, the social, or the moral ideas of the time.

The Fliegende Blätter were published in Munich; they laid the foundation for the city's status – later to be claimed as extremely successful, on account of the Simplicissimus – as a production locale for entertaining satirical periodicals. The initiators of the Fliegende Blätter were the bookseller Caspar Braun and the illustrator
Friedrich Schneider, since 1843 joint owners of the publishing house Braun & Schneider: a very successful undertaking in the realm of humorous literature. The individual issues, each about eight pages long, appeared weekly, for years undated. Twenty-six at a time would be bound into a volume, and because of the extreme longevity of the paper, the statistical details of its production-history are quite impressive: 200 volumes, over 5,000 issues, over 90,000 pages. Understandably, the number of authors of the often outstandingly ironic and sarcastic texts, as well as the illustrators of the masterfully pointed and pithy pictures, climbed into the hundreds.

A hundred years of German history: the Fliegende Blätter are without question unique among the periodical genre in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They hold in store detailed information on politics as well as culture and society. With equal measure of elegance and abandon, they mock Bavarian, German, and European attitudes and events, great and small. They offer, in their own field, an inexhaustible collection of curious and a kaleidoscope of the years between the Democracy of pre-1848 and National Socialism; from Metternich through Wilhelm II to Hitler; in short: between emergence and collapse. Thus, they number among the most superb centrepieces of the German archive.

Alfred Estermann