a French-Alsatian Artist

a Love for France

From 'L'Illustration' 1915 : Hansi's Version of a Children's Battle of the Marne

left :a photo of Hansi from 'Le Miroir'
right : Hansi at the Sorbonne

'Hansi' was the pseudonym of the Alsatian artist Jean Jacques Waltz. Although during 1871-1919, Alsace and Lorraine were part of the German empire, many of its inhabitants remained French in sentiment. Undoubtedly J.J.Waltz was of such thoughts. He was a talented landscape artist and before the war, the French newsmagazine 'L'Illustration' published his work, accompanied by articles expressing the wish to be re-united with France. In July of 1914 he was sentenced to one year in prison in Germany for making fun of German officials in a book of illustrations, but he managed to escape to France.

Upon outbreak of war 'Hansi' served in the French army while continuing to create patriotic illustrations. He was famous enough to have his portrait printed in several prominent magazines, even on the cover page. German magazines printed his portrait as well, but describing him as deserter, which technically speaking was correct, for being Alsatian he was a German citizen.

During the war he served as translator in the French army, acquiring the rank of Lieutenant. After the war he continued his work as illustrator, this time as a French citizen in newly reunited Alsace. When war broke out again in 1940, German authorities did not forget his record in days past and J.J. Waltz wisely moved to Agen in the unoccupied zone of France. This did not help him overly much, for in 1941 he was beaten savagely by agents of the Gestapo and left for dead on his doorstep. He then left for Switzerland where he spent the rest of the war. Jean Jacques Waltz returned to France after the war and died in 1951.

see also : Hansi a Epinal (French language text)


Hansi on trial in Germany in July 1914

left : a photo of 'Hansi' in 'l'Illustration' (October 1914)
right : the same (retouched) photo in a German magazine but
with a less flattering caption describing Hansi as a deserter ('Illustrierte Weltschau' March 1915)


right photo : part of a German arrest warrant for Hansi - October 7th 1914
Had he been captured he could very well have risked being executed
as a deserter and traitor, much like the Italian Caesare Battisti

from a French magazine : a portrait of 'Hansi' and one of his better known characters - Professor Knatschke

left : from the cover page of a French newsmagazine 'J'ai Vu'
'Hansi Adds a New page to His Album' (Hansi is on the far left)
right : from the cover page of a Swiss magazine 'La Guerre Mondiale'
Hansi (center with cane) visits a French trench
(photo courtesy of Olivier)

from 'l'Illustration' (July 1915) - Hansi visits an Alsatian village

left : from 'J'ai Vu' : Hansi visits an Alsatian village
(photo courtesy of Olivier)
right : a drawing from 'les Annales''


Pre-War Landscapes

From a 1911 issue of 'L'Illustration' : Alsatian landscapes

left :drawing from a 1918 issue of 'les Annales'
Alsatian children happily parade with French soldiers
right : another of Hansi's satirical views of German occupied Alsace
(published in a Belgian magazine)


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