Ye Berlyn Tapestrie
John Hassall's Satirical First World War Panorama
Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Ye Berlyn Tapestrie adapts the format of the Bayeux Tapestry to depict Kaiser Wilhelm II’s invasion of Luxembourg and Belgium. Hassall takes every opportunity to lampoon the German army, who are seen looting homes, marching shamefully through the streets behind women and children, drinking copious amounts of wine, and producing gas from sauerkraut and Limburger cheese. With comic inventiveness, Hassall has appended to the borders of the original Bayeux Tapestry stereotypical objects which the British public would have associated their enemy, from schnitzel to sausages, pilsners, and wild boar.
A fascinating example of war-induced farce, Ye Berlyn Tapestrie became itself a source of inspiration for later works, including wildly popular parodies of World War II in the Daily Mail and New Yorker. More recently, award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco has adopted the format for his The Great War, which chronicles the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Tapestrie is here presented in its entirety along with an introduction that sets out the historical conditions of its creation.