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Cover of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung: Ebert and Noske on Summer Holiday (August 1919)

The Berliner Illustrierte ran this photograph of Reich President Friedrich Ebert (right) and Defense Minister Gustav Noske (left) three days after Ebert took the oath of office under the new constitution. The photograph immediately aroused public indignation and became the basis of a caricature that was frequently deployed by the conservative press to delegitimize the new Republic and its leadership. Ebert responded with libel and slander lawsuits but had little success. Austrian journalist Joseph Roth called the bathing suit photograph “the most effective, if most scurrilous argument against the Republic” [das wirkungsvollste, weil pöbelhafteste Argument gegen die Republik].

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Cover of the <i>Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung</i>: Ebert and Noske on Summer Holiday (August 1919)

© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Wilhelm Steffen