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Cover picture: John Heartfield (1891-1968), The Executioner and Justice, 1933. Photomontage.
© The Heartfield Community of Heirs / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2016.
This illustration first appeared on the cover of AIZ magazine (Arbeiter–Illustrierte–Zeitung, the
Worker ’s Illustrated News) on November 30, 1933. It was a satirical comment on the show-trial
that followed the burning of the Reichstag, the German Imperial Parliament building, on 27
February 1933. A young Dutch communist was tried and sentenced to death for the crime, but
many believed the fire was in fact orchestrated by the Nazi Party; it became symbolic of the
end of democratic government after Hitler ’s rise to power. Hermann Goering was instrumental
in bringing Hitler to power, and founded the feared Gestapo, the Nazi secret police. John
Heartfield, a German who anglicised his name as a protest against German nationalism, fled
the country to Czechoslovakia in 1933, then to England in 1938. The caption of his
photomontage says: ‘The Executioner and Justice. Goering in the Reichstag fire trial: For me,
the law is something bloody.’