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Reconnaissance Flight

David Low (1891-1963)



Pen and ink with watercolour and crayon

14 ½ x 17 ¼ inches

Evening Standard, 2 December 1943

'Comedy and Commentary', Mottisfont, Hampshire, January-April 2020;
'A Century of British Art: 1900-1945', Chris Beetles Gallery, 21 June-17 July 2021, No 188

By December 1943, it was clear that the war had turned decisively against Nazi Germany. The liberation of Stalingrad in February 1943 had been followed by a Soviet counter-offensive and, following Italy’s armistice with the Allies, British and US forces invaded the Italian mainland in September. Franz von Papen had served as Vice-Chancellor of the German Reich from 1933 to 1934, but had been quickly marginalised by Hitler. Though he survived the purge of the Night of the Long Knives in the summer of 1934, he was forced to resign as Vice-Chancellor. Hitler was keen to remove von Papen and his influence from Berlin, so he was named first Ambassador to Austria and then, from 1939, Ambassador to Turkey.

In November 1943, von Papen visited Berlin and met with Hitler. Sir David Low’s cartoon suggests there was a belief in the British press that von Papen had met with Hitler to discuss the possibility of negotiating peace. Low indicates the types of peace Hitler may consider, while von Papen appears to stealthily attempt to fix the accoutrements of peace to Hitler and a Nazi General. It would later emerge that von Papen had flown to Berlin to reveal to Hitler that he had a spy working in the British embassy in Ankara.

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