Political Cartoons

Political cartoons are beneficial and important to history by depicting the significance and harsh realities and often criticisms of situations and events in history in an informative manner. Cartoons serve as pictures of symbols and characters that can be easily understood by any level of literacy; while providing a humorous often exaggerated way of showing current themes or problems of time periods. Political cartoons played a very important role media wise in the Cuban Missile Crisis, as it was a very controversial series of events between the United States, Soviet Union, and Cuba. Such adversary created the perfect habitat for political cartoons from all sides of the crisis. These cartoons made the tense situation of the Cuban Missile crisis somewhat comic, while at the same time being informative of most perspectives.


This cartoon was published on October 30, 1962 immediately after the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Edmund Valtmun. After 13 days of being on the brink of war, Khrushchev finally agreed to remove the nuclear missiles from Cuba. This cartoon depicts Khrushchev doing just that by way of dentistry in the mouth of Cuban leader Castro, saying “This Hurts Me More Than it Hurts You,” revealing that the removal of missiles in Cuba ultimately meant that Khrushchev had lost the non-combat war by being the first to fold under pressure against the United States.


This cartoon was published in October 1962 by the cartoonist Fritz Behrendt. It portrays just how serious the Cuban Missile Crisis was for both the United States and the Soviet Union, by revealing the two preparing for the worst. The cartoon caption reads ‘Just in Case…’Just as in the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, Khrushchev and Kennedy are shown loading up the ark in case of a nuclear crisis which could be compared to the great flood of the bible, wiping out the face of the earth.


Each of these cartoons, one on the left by an American, the other by a British cartoonist, represent just how heated the Cuban Missile Crisis was. Each also reveal how although the US and Soviet Union were enemies, each trying for a victory over the other, neither wanted to induce a nuclear war. In the first cartoon, Kennedy and Khrushchev trying to keep the beast of nuclear war locked up. A nuclear war truly would be a monster, and could lead to the destruction of many people and land on both sides. The other cartoon shows Kennedy and Khrushchev arm wrestling on top of the opposing nuclear weapons, with each of their fingers placed over the launch buttons. The caption (not shown) reads “OK Mr. President, let’s talk.” This also reveals that although threats of nuclear war were given and neither side wanted to give in to the other, nuclear war was wanted by neither Kennedy nor Khrushchev.


This cartoon, published by a German cartoonist, reads ‘What do you mean: a menace? Surely it's all right to go fishing, isn't it?' Khrushchev is holding a nuclear missile as his fishing rod, while sitting on the island of Cuba facing the United States. If you look closely one can see that Castro is a small figure leaning on Khrushchev’s leg. Across the Sea, you see Uncle Sam and Kennedy glaring at Khrushchev and his doings. This reveals how Khrushchev was undermining the US by denying any existence of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba although it was blatantly obvious to the Americans what he was doing.


This Cartoon was done by a Cuban cartoonist, representing a Cuban view of Kennedy and his actions. The caption reads: ‘A different dog but the same collar.’ This collar represents the feeling of the Cubans that Kennedy was a slave to capitalism and fascism. It also indicates that in Cuba’s eyes Kennedy is really no better nor different than any other president that came before him.