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Hugo Gellert

John Simkin

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Hugo Gellert caused a political storm when Elöre published his cartoon, Out of the War, in February 1916, that showed an armless veteran being spoon-fed. His anti-war cartoons were also published in other left-wing journals. James Wechsler has pointed out: "Hugo Gellert... is perhaps more infamous for his passionate commitment to leftist political agitation than for his contribution to American art, but Gellert strongly disavowed any distinction between the two. He professed that, for him, political agitation and art were the same thing."

In 1917 Hugo's brother, Ernest Gellert, also a socialist, was drafted into the military but refused to serve on the grounds that he was a conscientious objector. He died of a gunshot wound while imprisoned at Fort Hancock, New Jersey. The army claims his death was a suicide but the circumstances are suspicious. Gellert fled to Mexico to avoid conscription but still continued to provide ant-war cartoons for left-wing newspapers and magazines.

Gellert returned to the USA after the war. He joined the American Communist Party and unfortunately, after that, he sacrificed his art for party propaganda. However, his early work is well worth searching out:


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