Flight 714, Herge, King Ottokar's Sceptre, Red Rackham's Treasure, Tintin in Tibet

Is Tintin a Nazi? A Question Lazy Journalists Ask.

There is a short piece of bad journalism by Oliver Kamm on the Times website entitled: Was Tintin a Nazi? This regurgitates the reoccurring question of Herge’s wartime action but it is clear that Kamm failed to do any research on the subject. He also dismisses Tintin as ‘a dreary hack work’ and as having ‘no jokes, no learning and no real interest’.

Such a lazy piece of writing needs to be challenged and I wrote a long comment putting Herge’s wartime record in context and answering Kamm’s criticisms. However the Times website would not accept the comment for some reason, so I’ve reproduced here.

The obvious point being, Tintin is a fictional character and Nazism did not appear in his fictional world so no, Tintin is not a nazi.

If you mean, was Herge’ a nazi, the answer is still definitely not.

After the invasion of Belgium, Herge’ lost his job with Le Petit Vingtième when it was shutdown by the Nazi. He was also visited by the Gestapo who expressed a dislike for some of his earlier work, notably King Ottokar’s Sceptre.

Herge found work at Le Soir which, like all newspapers, was controlled by the Nazis. During this time he wrote some of the most fantastical Tintin adventures, deliberately avoiding anything political. After the war Herge was arrested several times as a collaborator, as were just about everyone else who worked for Le Soir. Eventually, Raymond Leblanc, a prominent resistant fighter supported Herge and he was able to resume work on Tintin’s adventures.

To accuse a man, who cannot answer back, of being a Nazi when the people at the time, including those who risked their lives fighting the Nazis, cleared his name is just cheap and lazy journalism.

Maybe, he continued to work at Le Soir out of naivety. Belgium had been invaded by the Germans during his childhood and perhaps he thought this occupation would be no different. Maybe he was simply frighten and tried to keep out of trouble. We can never know but the idea he worked for the newspaper because he was a Nazi is ludicrous.

As to your personal preference of Asterix, that is your choice, but only an ignorant person would claim that Tintin has no jokes, learning or interest.

The nature of the jokes in Asterix and Tintin are very different. Rather than clever word play, Tintin relies on visual gags, slapstick and on the simply ludicrous settings.

Learning? How about number of different cultures Herge depicted with reasonable accuracy (given the time of writing and the resources he had available). Or what about the cutting edge science Herge included in the books (submersibles in Red Rackham’s treasure, swingwing aircraft in Flight 714). These seem mundane now but Herge was writing about what was cutting edge technology at the time.

No Interest? What about the author’s mental state and his work, notably Tintin in Tibet. How about his huge personal journey from right wing puppet (Tintin in the Land of the Soviets) to being recognized by the Dali Llama for his work promoting peace and racial harmony? Or even how his work responded to the German occupation?

Humour – Yes, Learning – Yes, Interest – Yes.

Tintin’s 80 year success is because he and Herge have these attributes in buckets.

The are questions about Herge’s wartime service and about his political views but sloppy journalism designed to grab headlines does nothing to answer them.

Source: Was Tintin a Nazi?

One Comment

  1. What an excellent reply to such an awful article. I guess your comment wasn’t accepted due to length, and I can’t think of anything to leave out of your riposte to make it shorter. In fact I can only think of something to add (not that it’s needed) – that HergĂ© was asked to draw for the Gestapo and he refused. Maybe just send them the link? Nice one.

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