Leschinski 001415-042


How accurate were Herge's depictions of historical events in The Adventures of Tintin? Extended Essay History in English Jonathan Leschinski United World College Costa Rica Candidate Number: 001415-042 Word Count: 3997 May 2009

Leschinski 001415-042


Abstract This essay links real historic events to situations within The Adventures of Tintin, a comic book series by Belgian artist, Hergé. The essay establishes what or who Tintin is and analyses its evolution over the span of Hergé’s life, documenting changes in style and creation methods. The result of the research shows that Hergé took meticulous care in constructing the adventures, especially the places depicted, and more so as the series progressed. An investigation of the life Hergé is undertaken and clear comparisons become evident between Hergé’s experiences and those of the character Tintin. The second half of the essay contains close readings of three of the adventures: The Blue Lotus, The Broken Ear, and King Ottokar’s Sceptre. The Blue Lotus has been chosen because my background research indicated that the adventure is crucial within the series, marking a point in Hergé’s life when he changed his approach to creating the adventures. Hergé now attempts to change the stereotypical imagery seen in his earlier work, resulting in a more informative, accurate adventure - something Hergé would continue. The next close reading focuses on The Broken Ear, Hergé’s first attempt at a fictional setting depicting situations that parallel real historical events. The final close reading is of King Ottokar’s Sceptre. Also set in a fictional country, the events in Sceptre are an accurate amalgamation of the situations of many real countries facing the expansionist policies of Hitler at the time. Using various cells from the series, and closely analysing the stories, accurate connections can be found between Tintin and historical events. The essay concludes that as Tintin matures, so do the adventures, and they become more historically accurate as the adventures progress. However, inaccuracies are unavoidable throughout due to Hergé’s views on the events presented.

Word Count: 293

Leschinski 001415-042


Table of Contents

Introduction to Tintin_____________________________________________________1 An analysis of the life of Hergé, in relation to Tintin_____________________________3 Close reading of three adventures 1. The Blue Lotus___________________________________________________7 a. A Background of ‘the Mukden Incident,’ and Japanese Involvement in Mainland China circa 1931 b. Close reading of the Blue Lotus 2. The Broken Ear__________________________________________________11 a. Background of the Gran Chaco War b. Close reading of The Broken Ear 3. King Ottokar’s Sceptre ___________________________________________14 a. Background of 1934 Anschluss, and surrounding events b. Close reading of King Ottokar’s Sceptre Conclusion____________________________________________________________18 Works Cited___________________________________________________________20 Works Consulted_______________________________________________________21

Leschinski 001415-042


Introduction The Adventures of Tintin is a series of comic strips (later adapted into book-form) written and illustrated by Belgian artist Georges Remi, under the pen name Hergé. First published on the 10th of January 1929 by the catholic Belgian newspaper Le Petit Vingtiéme, a newly created children's section of Le Vingtième Siècle, it was originally written in French, but has since been translated into over 50 languages. 1 This essay uses the English translations for reference. The protagonist is Tintin, a Belgian reporter for Le Petit Vingtieme (although curiously references to his occupation are rarely made). In early adventures Tintin is accompanied solely by his dog Snowy, but throughout the series many characters are added to the story, including faithful friend's Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus. As with the work of many famous artists, Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin can be broken down in to periods of the artists life, which are clearly reflected in the books. In the beginning Hergé produced the strips week-by-week with no clear direction regarding the story. While Tintin still traveled overseas, Hergé's sole references were books, and few secondary sources available to him. Adventures published in this period were Tintin in the Land of the Soviets which Hergé sourced from a single book, Moscou sans voiles (Moscow Unveiled) by Joseph Douillet which denounces what were though to be, at least by the author, false Soviet Russian claims
Kennedy, Maev. "Museum aims to draw crowds with cartoon boy wonder aged 75." Guardian.co.uk 19 Nov. 2003. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/nov/19/education.highereducation>. Leschinski 001415-042

(Red Rackham’s Treasure, page 3)

1.1 - Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock.

1.2 - “Look what the soviets have done to the beautiful city of moscow! A stinking Slum!”
(Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, page 75)


regarding the success of communism. (Figure 1.2) This adventure, in later years, was much criticised and Hergé himself refers to it as a "sin of his youth" 2 The other adventures in this period include Tintin in America, Cigars of the Pharaoh and the colonial, racist Tintin in the Congo. In the next period the comics change dramatically. It is during this time that Hergé’s first masterpiece3, The Blue Lotus is published. With The Blue Lotus, thanks to a newly found friend Chang, Hergé strives to avoid stereotypes and strives for accurate cultural representation. The subtle political commentary present in The Blue Lotus also is also apparent in the next adventures The Broken Ear, and King Ottokar's Sceptre. The Nazi occupation of Belgium caused yet another change. The novels produced during this period were forced away from Hergé’s newly discovered desire to comment on current affairs, and towards more abstract themes. During this time however, Hergé honed his story telling ability. Books published under the German Newspaper for which Hergé hesitantly worked, were The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Shooting Star, and the dyad The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure. After the war, Hergé completed the previously banned Land of Black Gold, and soon began to use a team of people to create the series. The Hergé Studios was made up of different artists specialising in certain aspects in the books, resulting in each being more detailed than ever. Among the adventures produced in this period were the prescient Destination Moon, and Explorers on the Moon. Hergé also once more delved back into current affairs with The Calculus Affair. Tintin in Tibet represents the final period which was a direct result of Hergé's emotional state, overworked and generally sad. (Figure 1.3) This continues to the
(Tintin in Tibet, Page 30)

1.3 - The “white” of Tintin in Tibet

final finished work, Tintin and the Picaros, in which Tintin (as well as Hergé)

2 3

Sadoul, Numa. Tintin et moi. Tournai: Casterman, 1975, p. 75. Farr, Michael. Tintin : The Complete Companion. San Francisco: Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2004, p. 92. Leschinski 001415-042


shows signs of weariness. Each of the adventures has a formulaic predictable outcome; despite this, the aesthetically pleasing and captivating stories are widely loved. To effectively assess the accuracy of the series, the life of the creator, Hergé, must be investigated so that correlations may be made. An analysis of the life of Hergé, in relation to Tintin Georges Prosper Remi was born on May 22nd 1907, in the small town of Etterbeek, Brussels, Belgium. As a boy Remi attended a school in Ixelles, (Brussels), during German occupation (1914-1918) he is reported to have drawn, in the margins of his schoolbooks, a 'boy hero' who would stand up to the occupying forces. 4 His secondary education was at a catholic college. Remi also joined the Scout movement in 1920. Their ideology would heavily influence his work. Hergé’s first published work would appear in the Jamais assez, the school's Scout paper, and later in 1923, in Le Boy-Scout Belge, the Belgium Scout movements monthly magazine. It was in 1924 that he began using the name "Hergé" to sign his work. 'Hergé' is the french pronunciation of "RG" - his initials reversed.5 All formal education, apart from a short-lived attendance at l'école Saint-Luc art school, was finished in 1925, at which point Hergé began work in the subscription department of the newspaper, Le Vingtième Siècle (the 20th Century). In 1928, Hergé was put in charge of producing material for the Le Vingtième Siècle’s new children’s paper - Le Petit Vingtiéme. After a brief period illustrating The Adventures of Flup, Nénesse, Poussette, and Cochonnet, a strip written by a member of the newspaper's sport staff, Hergé was
2.1 - “Hergé”
by Pierre Assouline, published by Plon

4 5

"Hergé - A Short History". 15/10/08 <http://www.free-tintin.net/english/herge.htm> Sadoul, Numa. Tintin et moi. Tournai: Casterman, 1975, p. 13. Leschinski 001415-042 3

asked to create a "Young Catholic Reporter who would fight for good all over the world”6 and thus, Tintin was born, albeit a young, naive, primitive version who would evolve immeasurably in the years to come. On January 10, 1929, Tintin's first adventure "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" appeared in Le Petit Vingtéme. Signed under the newly acquired pseudo name, ˙Hergé.) Just over a year later on May 8, 1930, the first adventure in to the ‘dark depths’ of the communist Soviet Union concluded. Tintin et Milou’s adventures were, in 1930, published along side another creation of Hergé's Quick & Flupke, a comic strip Hergé produced parallel to Tintin until 1940. By June the same year Hergé began work on Tintin in the Congo. The year 1932 brought the marriage of Hergé and the secretary of the director of Le Vingtième Siècle, Germaine Kieckens. The couple would not have children, and would divorce in 1975. Tintin became routine, with the publication of a further two adventures soon to follow―Tintin in America and Cigars of the Pharaoh. However not until 1936 did Hergé 'strike gold' with perhaps the most well known adventure Tintin and the Blue Lotus. In 1934 Hergé was sent a letter from Father Gosset, the chaplain to the Chinese students at the Catholic University of Leuven, who expressed frustration with Hergé’s tendency to rely on stereotypes to create Tintin’s destinations. Hergé responded willingly, and consequently in 1934 was introduced, through Father Gosset, to Chang Chong-jen, a young arts student at the Brussels Académie des Beaux-Arts. The two quickly became friends, and Hergé was educated, by Chang, about Chinese culture, and techniques in Chinese art, as well as currant affairs across the globe. As a result, Tintin and the Blue Lotus was meticulously constructed and in an attempt to break stereotypes is much more
2.2 - Hergé, Germaine, and Chang (1934)


Sadoul, Numa. Tintin et moi. Tournai: Casterman, 1975, p. 23. Leschinski 001415-042 4

informative, at least in comparison to the earlier adventures. Subsequently Hergé named a character in the issue after Chang. On September 1, 1939 the Second World War began with the German invasion of Poland. Hergé was drafted and was forced to post-pone the current adventure, Land of Black Gold. Le Vingtième Siècle had fallen, along with the country, to German occupation. Le Petit Vingtième was soon shut down, but this did not stop Tintin. Hergé was offered, and accepted, the opportunity to produce Tintin for Le Soir, Brussels leading French daily, (which had now become the voice of the occupying forces). During the occupation Hergé strayed from current affairs, to focus on the characters. It was in this time that Tintin’s most memorable companions, Captain Haddock and Cuthbert Calculus were introduced. The year 1944 brought the end of occupation of Belgium, and with the allied forces came the closure of Le Soir. During this time Hergé was arrested four times by various groups, and was publicly accused of being a Nazi sympathizer,7 a claim with little backing, as the adventures published during the war were free of all politics and current affairs, especially in contrast to earlier works, notably King Ottakar's Sceptre which had a clear anti-fascist undertone, and a commentary on the Anschluss (Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria). This however was surprisingly overlooked and Hergé, like all journalists employed by Le Soir was barred from newspaper work. It was in this time that with the assistance of Edgar P. Jacobs and Alice Devos, he begun adapting earlier adventures to book form. Omitting Tintin in the Land of the Soviets,which Hergé deemed a best forgotten sin of his youth.8 Hergé was able to re-start Tintin in September 1946 when resistance fighter and publisher Raymond Leblanc provided financial support and Anti-Nazi documents to launch a soon to be

7 8

Farr, Michael. Tintin : The Complete Companion. San Francisco: Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2004, p. 112. Sadoul, Numa. Tintin et moi. Tournai: Casterman, 1975, p. 75. Leschinski 001415-042 5

highly successful comics magazine titled 'Tintin', which included several other comics and a two page spread of Tintin. Hergé felt the stress from all the effort he put into Tintin, and in 1939 while working on the new version of Land of Black Gold, he suffered a nervous breakdown. A second breakdown occurred in 1950 while he was working on Destination Moon. To relieve the workload, on April 6, 1950, Hergé Studios was established. The studio employed a variety of assistants with different skills to help with the demanding job. The year 1956 brought more personal troubles for Hergé. His marriage to Germaine was deteriorating after 25 years, and he was falling in love with employee Fanny Vlaminck, a young artist who had joined the studio. To add to this, Hergé was suffering from reoccurring nightmares of, what he described as, 'white'. 9 Despite being advised to cease production, Hergé produced his most personal piece to date, Tintin in Tibet. Upon conclusion of the adventure his problems too had been sorted out. The nightmares had stopped, a divorce from Germaine was settled in 1975, and he married Fanny Vlaminck in 1977. From 1961 onwards, the adventures were produced at a much more relaxed pace. Three more completed works were released before his death in March 1983. While clear correlations may be made from an investigation of Hergé’s life in relation to Tintin, to confirm and investigate the events in the adventures and ‘real events’ further, three close readings of selected books will be completed, closely analysing the factual integrity of Hergé’s work and thus making a more informed conclusion.


Sadoul, Numa. Tintin et moi. Tournai: Casterman, 1975, p. 124. Leschinski 001415-042 6

The Blue Lotus (1936) Tintin and the Blue Lotus was first published in 1936, a sequel to Cigars of the Pharaoh, continuing a plot that involves drug trafficking, but also portraying the very real current issue in 1936 of Japanese intervention in China. The Blue Lotus marks a change in Tintin’s seemingly culturally naive adventures. In the previous adventures for instance, the Bolsheviks in Land of the Soviets, are cynically evil, the Africans in Land of the Congo are backward and superstitious, and America is a land of gangsters and businessmen.

4.1 - Hergé bluntly attempting to break stereotypes. (The Blue Lotus, page 43)

The Blue Lotus is an attempt to change this. With the impetus of Hergé’s newly found love for Chinese culture, stemming from the befriending of Chinese arts student Chang Chong-jen. Chang educated Hergé on Chinese culture, Chinese history, and current affairs. The two collaborated on The Blue Lotus, but unlike King Ottokar's Sceptre which would be more a prediction and synthesis of events, The Blue Lotus’ focus is more informative, and just as Chang brought them to Hergé,
Leschinski 001415-042 7

Tintin brings the largely ignored actions of Japan in China during 1934 to the ‘western world’. In 1904-1905 the Japanese economic presence and political interest in Manchuria, a region of the Republic of China, had been growing. Japan was looking to expand its Empire. Manchuria, being a weak state that was under a growing threat of Chinese communism and the Soviet Union in the north, was chosen by the Kwantung Army or Japan as the perfect place for Japan to move into the mainland10. A plan to invade Manchuria was devised and approved by the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo, but only if an incident was started by the Chinese. After several attempts to provoke the Chinese (Figure 4.2) the Japanese decided to stage their own 'incident'.
4.3 - Hergé’s interpretation of Japan’s frustration.
(The Blue Lotus, page 22)

4.2 - The Japanese destruction of the railway, which would be blamed on the Chinese, to create an excuse for invasion, as represented in The Blue Lotus. (The Blue Lotus, page 21)

On September 18, 1931, near Mukden in southern Manchuria, a section of railway line owned by Japan's own South Manchuria Railway was dynamited. The Imperial Japanese Army, blaming the Chinese for the event, responded with an invasion of Manchuria. This is regarded as one of the earlier events of the Second Sino-Japanese War11 , a war fought between Imperial and Japan and the

10 11

Taylor, A. J. Origin of the Second World War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996, p. 91.

Bloom, Sol. "1931." Events Leading Up to World War II. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1944, p. 11. Leschinski 001415-042


Republic of China intermittently until in 1941 when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour brought the conflict into the greater, freshly started Second World War. The events of the Second Sino-Japanese War were largely
4.3 - Hergé accurately details the event.
(The Blue Lotus, page 22)

ignored by the western world. Japan was not regarded as the aggressor, but instead bringing much needed 'stability' to the

Republic.12 (Figure 4.3) The League of Nations failed to react and due to a recent agreement regarding various countries’ Naval strength in the Pacific (Washington Naval Conference, 1921), taking action other than 'moral condemnation' would not be allowed. 13 On page 22 (Figure 4.5) Tintin witnesses the exact events of the Mukden Incident. Each panel telling the events of 1931 in a detailed summary. Although not as contemporary as the later King Ottokar's Sceptre, Hergé did for-see that the West’s naivety towards Japan would prove troublesome. Visually, Hergé created an accurate representation of China. Using resources made available through his employment in Le Vingtième Siècle. The accuracy was taken the extent of collaborating with Chang to make sure the road-signs, or advertisements were written in correct Chinese.14 Despite Hergé immersing himself in Chinese culture, and illustrating with great detail to replicate the country, he does give the Japanese a very cliche stereotypical 1930s 'buck-teeth' image. (Figure 4.4) This brought much criticism from various parties, including the Japanese diplomats to the Belgian Foreign Ministry.
4.4 - “Mitsuhirato” the Japanese protagonist.
(The Blue Lotus, page 23)

12 13 14

Taylor, A. J. Origin of the Second World War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996, p. 182. Ibid, p. 184. Farr, Michael. Tintin : The Complete Companion. San Francisco: Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2004. p. 68. Leschinski 001415-042


4.6 - The progression of events following the Mukden Incident (within Tintin). Herge shows the rapidness of Japan’s movements in these cells with the invasion being undertaken at night, and the occupation completed by dawn.
(The Blue Lotus, page 22)

(“Ships on the Horizon”, and “Armoured Train” World War two photo gallery - “http://ww2photo.mimerswell.com/”)

4.5 - Herge’s Reference Images for page 22.

Leschinski 001415-042


The Broken Ear (1937) The Chaco War was a territorial conflict fought between 1932 and 1935 between Bolivia and Paraguay. The conflict took place due to speculation of rich oil deposits in an area know as the Gran Chaco. The Gran Chaco region is a large uninhabited region west of the Paraguay River, and east of the foothills of the Andes in Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. There was little interest in this region by any country, until 1884 when Bolivia lost access to the coast of Chile. In a world where trade was reliant on sea transport Bolivia needed to find access to the ocean. Bolivia turned to the Chaco Boreal and its navigable border, the Paraguay River. Actions were undertaken on seemingly peaceful terms, until in 1928 when oil was discovered in the foothills of the Andes, in the west of the Chaco region. Two oil companies assisted in the exploration of the region, the Shell Oil Company, and the Standard Oil Company, and in the forthcoming war each would back Bolivia and Paraguay respectively. (Figure 3.2) Bolivia suddenly took belated notice of the neglected territory, as did Paraguay. The Gran Chaco appeared to hold an abundance of petroleum beneath the arid plain. A series of skirmishes were fought throughout the late 1920s and culminated in a full scale war in 193215 (Figure 3.1.) During the war that followed the number of casualties exceeded 100,000. The League of Nations imposed an arms embargo, but this did not stop each country going to great lengths to acquire modern weapons, albeit in small quantities.16 (Figure 3.4)
3.1 - Hergé’s General American Oil company convincing San Theodorian General Alcazar to go to war with Neuvo Rico over oil.
(The Broken Ear, page 23)

Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire : A Concise History of Latin America. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, p. 165.

Johnson, Robert Charles. "The Gran Chaco War: Fighting for Mirages in the Foothills of the Andes." Chandelle. 3 Mar. 1996. World at War. <http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v1/v1n3/chaco.html#prof>. Leschinski 001415-042 11

Bolivia, despite its larger forces, lost to Paraguay, and no oil deposits were found in the Chaco Region. In Hergés The Broken Ear, Tintin begins by chasing a Fetish recently stolen from the Belgian museum of Natural History, which results in a trip to the fictional South American country of San Theodoros, which, when Tintin arrives, is in the midst of revolution. The revolutionary leader of San Theodoros is General Alcazar, who during the story is approached by a representative of 'General American Oil' (rival to "British South-American Petrol" from which the other fictional country Neuvo Rico receives support). Alcazar is persuaded to declare war on the neighbouring country of Neuvo Rico; to 'annex' the oil-fields for the countries financial gain. This is a direct allusion to the Chacos War, which in The Broken Ear is unimaginatively called the "Gran Chapo War", and ultimately, the fictional Chapo plains also have no oil. Hergé also brings the forbidden trading of arms of the Gran Chaco War into the adventure with Alcazar, and later the leader of Neuvo Rico, buying arms from a man known in the adventure as Basil Bazarov. Basil Bazarov is based on the real life arms trader Basil Zaharoff (Figure 3.3.) Hergé's Bazarov secretly sells weaponry to both San Theodoros and Neuvo Rico.
3.3 - The real Basil Zaharoff next to Hergé’s Basil Bazarov
(The Broken Ear, page 33) (BBC Hulton Picture Library)

3.2 - The two Oil Companies shown backing both sides, just as with The Gran Chaco War. (The Broken Ear, page 42)

Leschinski 001415-042


3.4 - The Dealing of Arms as represented in The Broken Ear. (The Broken Ear, page 34)

3.5 - To authenticate the fictional South American country, San Theodors, Hergé here uses a figure named “Olivaro”, who is titled (translated) “the liberator of San Theodoro”. This is a reference to famous Venezuelan, “Simon Bolivar” who is largely credited for latin America's liberation from Spanish rule in the 1800s. (The Broken Ear, page 30) (“Simon Bolivar Statue” by Andreas Steinhoff)

Leschinski 001415-042


King Ottokar's Sceptre (1939) In 1934 Austria’s government was known as Austrofascist. A form of fascism taking influence from Italian Fascism and Austria's Political Catholicism.17 Through 1934, Austria feared Nazi Germany's rise in power and particularly their expansionist policies. Because Austrofascism was modeled heavily after Italian Fascism, Dollfuss (Austria's dictator between 1933-1934) sought support from Mussolini, and was able to secure Italy's protection. Italy took interest in Austria not only for its ideological similarities, but because Mussolini saw Austria as a 'buffer' between Italy and the growing Nazi Germany. On July 25, 1934 eight Austrian Nazi's attempted a coup d'état by shooting Dollfuss.18 The effort was largely unsuccessful because of Italian intervention. Mussolini mobilised troops of the Italian army to the Austrian border and threatened Hitler with a war against Italy in the event that Hitler proceeded with a Nazi German Invasion of Austria. The assassination also however was accompanied by Nazi uprisings in many parts of Austria. Kurt Schuschnigg promptly took power, and banned all Nazi Parties in Austria. Hitler had consolidated his power in 1938 and met with Schusschnigg on 12th February 1938, and demanded the restoration of all Nazi members freedom, otherwise he would take military action. Schusschnigg complied. Prior to this Schusschnigg was already under considerable pressure from Germany. In a final attempt to prevent Germany's impending take-over and to preserve Austrian Independence, Schusschnigg held a referendum on independence.19 Hitler sent an ultimatum demanding he hand over all power to the Austrian Nation Socialist Party or face invasion. As Italy had since sought

""Death for Freedom." TIME 6 Aug. 1934. TIME Magazine. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/ 0,9171,747609-1,00.html>.
17 18 19

Ibid. Lennhoff, Eugene. The Last Five Hours of Austria New York: Read Books, 2007, p. 212. Leschinski 001415-042


alliance with the Axis, by 1938 Austria was essentially alone. To avoid bloodshed (Figure 5.1) Schusschnigg stepped down, and on the 11th of March Hitler entered Austria and declared it a part of the German Reich, with no opposition. 20 Following the anschluss of Austria, In September 1938 as part of the Munich Agreement, signed between Germany, France, Britain and Italy but without Czechoslovakia, Nazi Germany was also able to claim parts of Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland. Although no immediate action followed, Hitler's impending move on Poland in September started World War II in Europe. Hergé began publishing King Ottokar's Sceptre in 1938, at the same time as the Anschluss was occurring, and finished three weeks before the German invasion of Poland. The novel is evidently an amalgamation of political tension, and insight into current international events. King Ottokar's Sceptre prominently features two fictional European countries, Syldavia and Borduria. Tintin visits Syldavia accompanying a Professor Alembick, while he plans to do little more than help the Professor. Tintin finds himself in the midst in an attempted "Anschluss" of Syldavia by the neighboring Borduria. Tintin discovers this while recovering the King's Sceptre from Bordurian agents. He manages to knock one of the agents out and discovers documents from Müstler ordering the 'Shock Troops' to move into Syldavia the night of St Vladamir's Day. (Figure 5.2) with the support of growing pro-Bordurian group within Syldavia known as the Iron Guard. By using fictional countries Hergé is able to portray the circumstances facing many countries during the pre WWII years, unlike The Blue Lotus which solely depicts the events of Japanese occupation in China. Syldavia is depicted as a Balkan country with a Monarchy, the capital is called
5.1 - Similar to Schusschnigg, King Ottokar considers abdication, however, unlike Schusschnigg, Ottakar is able to keep his position, and in turn, his country.
(King Ottokar’s Sceptre, page 57)


Lennhoff, Eugene. The Last Five Hours of Austria. New York: Read Books, 2007, p. 238. Leschinski 001415-042


Klow. The names used clearly draw a Polish influence. Favouring the typical Polish "-ow" ending, for example some cities mentioned in the adventure include Niedzdrow, Istow, and Kroprow. Another play on words is 'Müsstler," the name of the fascist Bordurian who orchestrates the attempted Anschluss. The name is blatantly a portmanteau of Mussolini and Hitler. Within the adventure there is a very clear documentation of Syldavian history (Figure 5.4) which tells that Borduria annexed neighbouring Syldavia and was under its rule until 1275, when Baron Almaszout drove the Bordurians away and established himself as King Ottokar I. Just as Hitler believed that all countries with 'pure' German speaking roots should become part of the greater German empire once more, the fictional Borduria in Müstler's documents state "Bordurian troops will cross into Syldavian territory to free our native land from the
5.4 - Hergé’s extensive fictional documentation of the fictional country, Syldavia.
(King Ottokar’s Sceptre, page 19)

tyranny of King Muskar IIX." Also the way in which the Bourdians plan to take Radio Klow is directly linked to the Gleiwitz incident ("Polish" attack on the radio station prior to German invasion). (Figure 5.2) Although the theme of Bordurian sympathisers is brought up, this is more in relation to the Nazi sympathisers in Austria, and not so much in Poland.

Leschinski 001415-042


5.2 - Tintin discovers a message signed by "Müssler" informing the "Shock Troopers" of Borduria to proceed with the invasion of Syldavia. Directly referring to the use of the Radio to promote uprising within Syldavia, similar to propaganda techniques used by Nazi Germany to promote unrest within Austria.
(King Ottokar’s Sceptre, page 53)

Visual similarities are also littered throughout the adventure. The Syldavian flag draws influences from the Albanian flag. Albania did not become independent until the twentieth century, and only adopted a republican form of government in 1912 and was invaded in 1939 by Mussolini, similar to the history of Syldavia. The plane Tintin escapes from Bolduria is a Messerschmit BF-109-E, a typical German fighter. Even the troops illustrated resemble, very closely Polish troops.

5.3 - Albanian Flag and the (fictional) Syldavian Flag

Leschinski 001415-042


Albeit slightly contradictory to earlier claims with the Blue Lotus of avoiding stereotypes and repeating the mistakes seen in The Land of the Soviets, Hergé seems to have relied heavily on stereotypical imagery to create fictitious worlds, but indeed this, perhaps, makes it all the more credible because the reader of the time could relate with much more ease.

Conclusion In conclusion, Hergé made his adventures technically accurate, however by his use of limited sources Hergé is unable to show what may be called historical accuracy. Especially in the beginning, for example Tintin in the Land of the Soviets derived solely from a single source. As Tintin matures, so do the adventures. From The Blue Lotus onwards Hergé becomes more culturally aware, and the adventures reflect this. The limitations to his accuracy again stem from his lack of sources, as he did not actually travel to the places he was drawing. All references were made available to him through the newspaper he worked for and anything else he could find. This fallacy however is not so apparent due to the extensiveness of Hergé’s research into current affairs. Just as an historian seeks out reliable information, so did Hergé. It is concluded that the adventures also progressively become more insightful. The Blue Lotus is a more informative adventure while in later years his political subtext becomes more subtle, such as in The Broken Ear, and because of the depth of Hergé’s research, prescient adventures, such as Destination Moon, are scientifically accurate and preceded the 1969 US moon landings by just over a decade. While Tintin is faithful to reality, they must be looked upon just as any other document with a historical context. Documented history is susceptible to the bias of its writer, no matter how objective they wish to be. This however may also be Tintin’s greatest accuracy. Tintin is heavily influenced by Hergé’s state of mind. Whether it be the fear felt in World War Two, Hergé’s perception of events in China, or his period of depression, it is all reflected within Tintin. This then provides a very accurate representation of

Leschinski 001415-042


many significant events of the 20th century, which, just as any primary sourced historical document, is invaluable.

Leschinski 001415-042


Works Cited Bloom, Sol. "1931." Events Leading Up to World War II. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1944. 4-11. Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire : A Concise History of Latin America. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. "Death for Freedom." TIME 6 Aug. 1934. TIME Magazine. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ article/0,9171,747609-1,00.html>. Farr, Michael. Tintin : The Complete Companion. San Francisco: Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2004. Herge. King Ottokar’s Sceptre. London: Mammoth, 1990. Herge. The Blue Lotus. San Francisco: Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2006. Herge. The Broken Ear. Minneapolis: French & European Publications, Incorporated, 1961. Johnson, Robert Charles. "The Gran Chaco War: Fighting for Mirages in the Foothills of the Andes." Chandelle. 3 Mar. 1996. World at War. <http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v1/v1n3/ chaco.html#prof>. Kennedy, Maev. "Museum aims to draw crowds with cartoon boy wonder aged 75." Guardian.co.uk 19 Nov. 2003. The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/nov/19/ education.highereducation>. Lennhoff, Eugene. The Last Five Hours of Austria. New York: Read Books, 2007. Moore, Charles. "A tribute to the most famous Belgian." Telegraph.co.uk 26 May 2007. The Daily Telegraph. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3640141/A-tribute-to-the-most-famousBelgian.html>. Sadoul, Numa. Tintin et moi. Tournai: Casterman, 1975. "A Short Biography of Herge." Discover Tintin. Ed. Nicolas Sabourin. <http://www.free-tintin.net/ english/herge.htm>. Taylor, A. J. Origins of the Second World War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
Leschinski 001415-042 20

Works Consulted Herge. The Black Island. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Broken Ear. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Calculus Affair. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Castafiore Emerald. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Cigars of the Pharaoh. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Crab with the Golden Claws. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Destination Moon. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Explorers on the Moon. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Flight 714. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Land of Black Gold. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Prisoners of the Sun. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Red Rackham's Treasure. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Red Sea Sharks. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Secret of the Unicorn. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Seven Crystal Balls. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. The Shooting Star. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Tintin in America. London: Mammoth, 2002. Herge. Tintin in the Congo. Egmont Books Ltd 2005. Herge. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. Little, Brown 2007. Herge. Tintin and the Picaros. London: Mammoth, 2002.

Leschinski 001415-042


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful