Who preceded the Nazis as the cliched embodiment of evil?

All of the Nazi-revival, swastika-lovin’ threads make wonder: before the 1930s, when people wanted to evoke an embodiment of evil authoritarism (“Who do you think you are, honey, Adolf Hitler or somefin? I’ll take the trash out when I’m good and goddamn ready”) who did they pick? The Czar? The Pope? The titular head of the Republican Party?

I mean, we didn’t just decide around 1933 that we needed a symbol of tyranny, did we? Or did we?

the pope’s always been popular

The Vikings were viewed as bad guys by the English as I recall.
The Monguls and the Huns were not highly thought of.

Anyway, what have the Romans ever done for us?


The Huns or the Prussians.

I dunno. In the years just before '33, a lot of people outside Germany were seriously considering authoritarianism and totalitarianism as an answer to the misery caused by the Great Depression. Fascist Italy was as much respected as reviled – maybe more so, because they had really cool uniforms and planes.

The Bolsheviks would be another candidate.

If you’re looking at a somewhat earlier day, Napoleon was quite the bogeyman, particularly in England. Parents used him to threaten disobedient children.

In Spain, the following are and continue to be popular:
Nero (as Real Evil Guy)
the Pope (as Absolute Power, no evil implied)
the King (again, Absolute Power but no evil implied)
the Goths (the tribe, not the ones who like black lipstick)
Attilah (sp?) and his Huns
Attilah’s horse

The Goth Kings (of Spain) are both an example of “a thing you learn by rote” (although we don’t any more) and of a real crazy bunch. Whomever had murdered the previous king became king. Real nice family, not.

Genghis Khan, no question about it!

My guess would be “Atilla the Hun” or “Ivan the Terrible.”

The Jews? ;j


As a slight hijack… did people REALIZE around 1933 that the Nazis would be referred to as a symbol of evil, authoritarianism, and tyranny for a long time?? If not… any idea when this started to sink in??


Is this a whoosh?

What, you’ve never heard of a threat based on “… and the horse he rode in on…”? Well, it’s that horse.

Well, a horse is a horse, of course, of course… even when it’s Attila’s.

I’d go with the Huns, they were still calling Germans “Huns” in WWI and WWII I believe.

even before the Nazis, the Germans were good villains. Tarzan actually fights the Germans in books Burroughs wrote at the time of WWI (and then later fought them again in WWII – Burroughs was still churning out the Tarzan books).
One of the more lamentable features of the 1920s and 1930s pulps was the frequent use of the “yellow peril” as the villains. Them evil Chinese heathen were just waiting to kill the round-eyed devils and take over the world. The depictions of oriental villains in the pulps and later in comics were scarily dehumanizing. The books and stories about Fu Manchu were of this sort, as were imitators like Robert E. Howard (with his “Skull Face” stories, and “Malik Tous”, and others). There were entire pulp magazines devoted to Oriental adventure and Oriental villains. Downright racist, seen from the vantage point of today.

That was because of an idiotic remark by Kaiser Wilhelm to his troops. Somthing about, “being as feared as the Huns”.