The border is agreed

Posters from the border referendum 1920

2020 is the centenary of the referendum that determined the location of the Danish-German border. To mark the occasion, the Danish Poster Museum is presenting an exhibition of posters created at the time of the border referendum in Schleswig in 1920. The goal was to find as many relevant posters as possible. The result is 33 pro-Danish posters and 16 pro-German ones.

In an attempt to put the material into an historical and graphic perspective, we have also included 27 posters from other occasions when borders were drawn after World War I. The posters originate from Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Both textually and visually, these posters are bloodier and fiercer in their rhetoric, and it is clear that the drawing of the border between Denmark and Germany was a pretty peaceful affair.

But all the posters are intensely expressive, very much playing on emotions to influence voters. It is also clear that there was a lot at stake in terms of identity and economy. Using the posters as source material, we get close to the events, arguments, concerns and aspirations of the time. We find ourselves in a time warp that takes us into the lives of the voters at that time and reveals their worldview.

The propaganda puts our national identity into perspective and provides food for thought in terms of our current social conditions. The issue of identity in our globalised world is so topical, so maybe we can better understand the referendum posters and see ourselves in them.

As part of the exhibition, we are publishing a substantial, richly-illustrated in a collaboration between Gads Forlag and the Danish Poster Museum. The book costs DKK 249 and is available in bookshops, in the Gamle By museum shop and on the Danish Poster Museum’s webshop.

The exhibition opens on 11 February 2020 and will run until 20 September 2020.