recto: The Gospel of Frightfulness, The Voice of Germany, Hurry! verso: The peril to Australia

Accession Number ARTV00037
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 48.5 x 35.5 cm
Object type Poster
Physical description process letterpress blocks on paper
Maker Lindsay, Norman
Director- General of Recruiting
Chas. Steele and Co.
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


This pamphlet is one of five Norman Lindsay leaflets issued by the Director-General of Recruiting in conjunction with the final federal recruiting campaign of October 1918. A fold out poster-pamphlet with text and illustrations on both sides, the pamphlet was designed to be folded up and mailed out to potential recruits. Pictured is the 'verso' side of the work. The 'recto' side can be viewed for the ARTV01163 catalogue entry.
This pamphlet was part of a recruitment kit compiled by the Australian government, and published by the Director-General of Recruiting, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. The kit was designed to promote the Voluntary Ballot Enlistment Scheme, in which men would submit cards to a lottery. If their names were drawn out, they would agree to serve in the AIF. The kit consisted of pamphlets, posters, letters and a film. All of the works, bar the film, were illustrated by renowned Australian artist Norman Lindsay. This particular pamphlet uses 'invasion fear' to inspire the unenlisted eligible to join up. Most of the pamphlets were not distributed because the war ended shortly after the campaign was launched. The Director-General was Donald Mackinnon, a Victorian barrister and politician, appointed in December 1916 following the first rejection of conscription in October 1916. Towards the end of the war, following the failure of the Federal government to win the right to conscript soldiers, and the failure of voluntary recruiting to attract enough men, the armed forces were desperate for more recruits. The government responded by releasing a series of posters by Norman Lindsay accompanied by essays that were designed to shock and terrify the reader.
Recto: depicts a cartoon titled 'Where Germany Prays' with a German monster a top a pillar of 'frightfulness' with a pile of corpses at the bottom. The monstrous Hun sits atop a bloodied dais, dripping sword in hand; corpses lie at his feet. A peasant woman supplicates at his feet in a pool of blood. 'The Gospel of Frightfulness' depicts a German water demon dragging a mother and child under the surface of the water (it is most likely referencing the sinking of the passenger ship the 'Lusitania' by the German navy). The text relates to the atrocities that would occur should Germany win the war. An illustration of a bare-breasted woman being crushed beneath a giant cloven hoof occupied the top centre of the pamphlet - this imagery is clearly aligning the forces of Germany with the devil. Verso: depicts the conquest of Australian towns and women by German troops. The 'Huns' are pillaging an idealised Australian country town. An elderly lady reaches desperately for her daughter, trying to save her from being dragged off by the soldiers. In the left corner of the image, a woman swoons. Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) was a painter, draughtsman, illustrator, cartoonist, printmaker, writer and sculptor. He joined the Sydney 'Bulletin' magazine as a staff artist, 1901-09, 1910-23 and 1932-58.