Modern Graphics to Educate German Citizens, 1928-1930Posted: January 24, 2013 | |
Germany’s adoption of the Weimar constitution after the end of World War I brought democracy, universal suffrage and far greater citizen involvement than had previously been the case. Progressive municipal leaders saw an urgent need to educate the general public on matters of public administration and the role of government. To this end, many German cities established public affairs offices,which, among other things, generated educational materials on the activities of the city administration.
The first job my father, Johannes Höber, had after he finished at Heidelberg University was heading the public affairs office for Mannheim, a city of half a million. The city’s Social Democratic administration supported active economic, cultural and social programs to improve the lives of its citizens. Johannes edited numerous reports and periodicals to spread the message about the city’s activities.
The publications Johannes edited featured dramatic graphic representations that attracted the reader’s attention and presented information in a clear, engaging fashion.
Sometimes the graphics were a bit strained, and then deciphering them became its own kind of entertainment, as in the following article on the increase in expenditures for various city services.
Font selection, well-composed photographs, diagrams and good page layout were thoughtfully addressed, as in this magazine article on housing developments in Mannheim.This eye-catching graphic compares the percentage of the total workforce in various cities that was employed in public service. Although the Social Democrats were proud of the services Mannheim provided, public workers made up a smaller percentage of the workforce than in other German cities. When Johannes fled Germany in 1938, he carried only two small suitcases. Nevertheless, he devoted space in his baggage for several copies of the publications he edited for the city of Mannheim. He used these publications as samples of his work, and they helped him get jobs when he was starting out here in the United States.