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Published May 09, 2023 Updated May 10, 2023

WW2 German Propaganda Playing Cards

showing satirical portraits of Allied leaders and politicians

1942 Germany United Kingdom Rheinberger Political Satire Wartime Add to Collection

Various sources report that this pack of cards was dropped over England as German WW2 propaganda to cast doubt in the general public over the way the Allied forces were running the war. However, this theory has never been proved and was probably a fantasy thought up to create mystery around these cards. We can now be almost certain that they were printed by Jacob Rheinberger in Bad Durkheim, Germany in 1942 and were then on sale to the German public.
The court cards all have satirical coloured drawings of Allied leaders and politicians, or depict the atrocities of the Allies.

The four queens show allegories of Brittania with Reuter spouting lies (spades), RAF bombing hospitals (clubs), exploiting the poor (diamonds) and exploiting ethnic groups in the colonies (hearts).
The Kings and Jacks depict various leaders and politicians from the Allied counties including:
King spades - Churchill (no introduction necessary) revealing his true self
King clubs - Edward Wood, 1st. Earl of Halifax. Foreign Secretary and ambassador to the USA in 1940
King hearts - Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary from 1935-38 and later political war executive. A close confident of Churchill.
King diamonds - Alfred Duff Cooper, military and political historian. Minister of information under Churchill and eventually ambassador to France.
Jack spades - Marshal Edward Rydz-Smigły. Polish politician, Marshal of Poland and commander in chief the Polish army. Escaped to Romania but went back to Poland to fight in the Warsaw resistance.
Jack clubs - Edvard Beneš, president of Czechoslovakia before and after WW2. Fled to London after the German invasion and had a spy called Agent A-54 in German military intelligence.
Jack hearts - Ahmed Zogu, zelf proclaimed King Zog 1 of Albania from 1928. Fled to Greece after the Italians invaded taking most of the treasury gold with him. Eventually settled in England.
Jack diamond - Paul Reynaud, prime minister of France during the German defeat in 1940. Arrested by Petain administration and imprisoned in Germany & Austria until 1945.
Joker - Stalin in a Fools costume sitting on a skull.
(Note. these are my own interpretation of the cards, so may not be 100% accurate)

The pack was issued as 52 cards plus 2 Stalin jokers, or as a Skat pack with 32 cards only.

References:
Cartorama 66 nr.169, Cartorama 68 nr. 113
Braun 241, Cary collection 382, Fournier 280

All cards shown are from the collection of Paul Symons ©

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By Paul Symons

Member since February 01, 2016

I'm British but I have now lived in the Netherlands for more than 50 years and am still enjoying every minute of it. I started collecting playing cards in the early 1980’s after speaking with my neighbour who was at that time a croupier in a casino. I started with just collecting jokers, but that soon led me to complete packs of cards and eventually to specialising in old and antique playing cards, particularly those of C.L. Wüst of Frankfurt, Germany. I am presently the Dutch representative of the I.P.C.S. and the auctioneer at the IPCS conventions.


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