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German History in Documents and Images
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"Der – Die – Das" (1897)
There is more to this grammar lesson than meets the eye. Artist Bruno Paul characterizes different segments of German society according to the gender of various collective nouns used to describe them. The first (top panel) is masculine: the mob [Der Pöbel]; the second is feminine: the crowd [Die Menge]; the third is neuter: the people [Das Volk]. The caricature’s punch-line is that only decorated military officers and the very wealthy – a tiny minority in German society – constituted “the people.” This cartoon first appeared in the satirical magazine Simplicissimus in 1897.