The Caricatura Museum Frankfurt, the "most beautiful museum in the world" dedicated to comic art, is devoting its current special exhibition to a true legend of comedy: PARDON, the "German satirical monthly" founded 60 years ago. The exhibition makes it easy to understand why the Frankfurt-based paper was so successful and, within a very short time, became Europe's largest satirical magazine, selling over 300,000 copies. At the same time, the anniversary exhibition "Devilish Years" makes clear how concisely the satirical magazine reflects the turbulent history of the Federal Republic in the 1960s and 1970s.
PARDON's trademark from the very beginning: A devil designed by F.K. Waechter sketched devil, which lifts apparently friendly its bowler hat to the greeting, in order to reveal however diebisch laughing its horns. The magazine was founded in 1962 in Frankfurt by Hans A. Nikel together with Hans Traxler, Chlodwig Poth and Kurt Halbritter. It quickly developed into the zeitgeist magazine of the youth's rebellion against the mustiness of the Adenauer era and its authorities. PARDON repeatedly caused a stir, was subjected to lawsuits, took on the mostly clerical guardians of morals, and agitated against the widespread prudery and bourgeois double standards of the early Federal Republic. This led from the beginning to bans, censorship attempts and sales restrictions.
PARDON took a stand, took sides. The concept of bringing humor, comedy and satire together with committed texts and reports was well received. Caricatures stood next to biting polemics, photomontages next to book reviews, serious reports next to light-footed parodies. It was all a colorful mix, but united in its critical view of the existing political situation. The magazine soon became the first address for young cartoonists, and developed into a career springboard for journalistic newcomers such as Günter Wallraff, Alice Schwarzer, Wilhelm Genazino and the later "Stern" reporter Gerhard Kromschröder. Eckard Henscheid also began his career there.
A time and again, the PARDON editors drew attention to themselves through spectacular satirical actions. Thus they unveiled a statue of the then Federal President Heinrich Lübke in front of Frankfurt's Paulskirche, they distributed alleged nuclear waste among passers-by, deposited a bust of Günter Grass in the Valhalla, the German temple of heroes on the Danube, or they organized slide lectures "for the early detection of bank robbers" in which they enlisted the NPD for themselves.
The large anniversary exhibition "Devilish Years" documents the development of the magazine on the four levels of the museum in original drawings, photos and court files. The attempt by PARDON publisher Hans A. Nikel to open the magazine to New Age topics in the late 1970s accelerated the staff bloodletting. Important staff members departed, and some of them henceforth operated under the name "Neue Frankfurter Schule" (NFS). The group, which also included the copywriters of Otto Waalkes, Robert Gernhardt, Peter Knorr and Bernd Eilert, finally founded the rival journal "Titanic" in 1979.
In 1982, under its last editor-in-chief Henning Venske, PARDON was discontinued. In its 20-year history, the magazine had proven to be a style-setter for media professionals, whose influence continues to resonate today. Says Caricatura director Achim Frenz: "The exhibition closes a gap, and PARDON, this creative melting pot from which the 'New Frankfurt School' also emerged, finally gets the place it historically deserves."
16. October 2022 to March 19, 2023