Cartoon, “Please ring the bell for us” by John Knott

Effects of Nazi propaganda felt in Texas

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by Jenny Cobb, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

As early as 1933, Texans read local reports of the rise of the Nazi party and its violent acts against German citizens. News agencies like the Associated Press made formal agreements with the Nazi regime to have reporters on the scene. Their eye-witness accounts provided a glimpse into the early beginnings of a repressive society.

Dallas-based artist John Knott worked for the Dallas Morning News for 50 years, illustrating more than 15,000 cartoons. Simple and to the point, his cartoons earned instant acclaim and were widely reprinted throughout the country and abroad. Having studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Munich, Germany, he referenced first-hand knowledge of German militarists in his work. Knott’s 1939 cartoon, “Please ring the bell for us,” was inspired by the Wagner-Rogers Resolution, an effort sponsored by Senator Robert Wagner and Representative Edith Rogers to lift immigration quotas and bring in 20,000 Jewish children from refugee camps in Europe. The editors of the Dallas Morning News supported the bill claiming, “the country is asked to do an act of simple humanity in permitting non-quota admission of these children.” Knott’s cartoon was a plea for Texan support requesting Congress to save the children. Despite ongoing persecution of Jews in Germany, U.S. actions were influenced by the economic hardships of the Great Depression, which intensified feelings of anti-Semitism, isolationism, and xenophobia. The bill never came to a vote.

John Knott’s original artwork along with additional artifacts, news articles, editorial cartoons, historical film footage, and first-person narratives were part of the exhibition, State of Deception, on view from September 17, 2016 to January 8, 2017 in the Museum’s first-floor Herzstein Gallery.

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Cartoon, “Please ring the bell for us” by John Knott Artifact from Dallas, Texas
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