American Cartoonists: Nazi Germany and The Holocaust

Exhibit Extended until March 15th

Michael Klahr Center, University of Maine at Augusta

This remarkable exhibit, on loan from the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at New York’s Queensborough Community College, illustrates the impact Jewish cartoonists had on the comic book industry in the 1930s and 1940s. Comic Book heroes like Superman, Daredevil, Silver Streak and Captain America were among the first to actually do battle with Hitler and the Nazis.

The exhibit tells the story of the ways this unlikely medium of comic books played a role in exposing hatred and showed the horrors of the Holocaust in a way that only comic book writers and artists can.

The exhibit, which is a series of colorful and informative panels, also includes a beautiful study guide, free to all visitors while supplies last.


“It was November, 1938 when blind hatred swept German Jews during Kristallnacht ‘The Night of Broken Glass.’

The planet needed a hero – fast. Who could have predicted that this hero would be one concocted by two Jewish boys in Ohio? Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster carved out a character that became that hero, and an American icon: Superman!”

- Simcha Weinstein, Up, Up and Oy Vey!

Special feature on Samantha Smith

This exhibit also includes a unique Maine story told in cartoons. 

In 1982 Manchester Elementary School student Samantha Smith wrote a letter to newly elected Soviet Union Premiere Yuri Andropov asking why the Soviet Union wanted to conquer the world. 

He responded to her letter with his own letter promising “We want peace—there is something that we are occupied with: growing wheat, building and inventing, writing books and flying into space. We want peace for ourselves and for all peoples of the planet. For our children and for you, Samantha.” His letter also included an invitation for her and her parents to come to the Soviet Union and be his guest for two weeks. 

When she accepted the invitation, it created worldwide interest. 

Our current exhibit also features a series of editorial cartoons from around the world, which capture the excitement that Smith and Andropov inspired through their informal diplomacy. Many of the souvenirs and items related to Samantha’s trip to the USSR are in a collection held at the Maine State Museum and will be on loan for this exhibit. 

Smith and her father, UMA literature and writing professor Arthur Smith, died in a plane crash in Lewiston in August of 1985. But the memory of her efforts lives on in this wonderful tribute told through editorial cartoons.

American Cartoonists: Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is open daily Monday through Friday from 10 am – 4 pm beginning December 14th through March 15th. Additionally, the exhibit will be open when there are programs at the HHRC and by appointment.