Video: What can a cartoon tell us?

In this activity, we’ll guide you through the kinds of questions you could ask to explore a cartoon in depth. Our example cartoon is this one drawn for the Ministry of Information in 1944 by Reginald Mount, a British cartoonist.

The image shows Hitler wearing a uniform and military cross. He has a belt with a gun. He is standing on a pile of plans between two heaps of dead soldiers with skulls- one pile labelled ‘Stalingrad’ and the other ‘Tunisia’. He is holding four rolled-up plans. His body is small and looks weak. His boots are worn out to reveal his toes. Amongst the pile of plans, there is a broken telescope, a globe, a book called ‘How to read the stars’, and a paint pot and brush. A speech bubble from Hitler says: ‘You can rely on my judgement remember I was once a soldier of the Reich’. From the heaps of dead soldiers comes another speech bubble saying: ‘so were we’.

Catalogue ref: INF 3/1321.


In the video we take you through the potential answers to useful questions to ask about a cartoon. Here are some questions, try answering them yourself before watching the video!

  1. What type of source is this?
  2. Who produced it?
  3. When was it produced?
  4. What can we infer from this cartoon?
  5. How does the cartoon relate to a historical situation?
  6. What techniques of persuasion does the cartoon use to give its message?
  7. Are there any clues about the audience of the cartoon?
  8. How reliable is the cartoon? Does it have any limitations?
  9. How does it relate to other sources from this period? Does it share the same ideas or attitudes?