Many children of the Cold War lived in the West on a daily basis. Whoever had a Geha fountain pen never wrote with Pelikan. Those who wore Adidas despised Puma. And hardly anyone who thought of Asterix or Donald Duck read Fix and Foxi.
Hechelhammer came across Kauka’s trail while researching the history of the BND in Pullach. The information was already of interest to the “Bild” newspaper, which even sued in order to be allowed to publish from the files – in vain. In the case of Hechelhammer, for example, one can only guess between the lines what he may know but is not allowed to write.
Instead, his portrait of “German Disney”, which Fix and Foxi published up to 400,000 magazines a week with a total circulation of over 300 million, is based primarily on many conversations with the Caucasian family and companions.
Hechelhammer manages a strange trick. Based on the sound of a cheery, Caucasian parlando, he sketches a cold warrior who “would have liked to have re-educated the German children according to his ideals”. Kauka’s basic tone is revanchistic, but what he meant by that seems to have only been dimly clear to him.
In Hechelhammer’s book, you have to sift through hundreds of pages of detailed information for yourself whether the man really strayed dangerously or was more of a joke. The reading has something of secret service work.
So let’s go: The comic maker Kauka was successful in post-war Munich, from 1957 he presented himself in his own castle in the noble Grünwald as the “Prince of the Foxes”, the title of the biography. However, he is neither, as he claims, a native of Munich nor a doctor of literature, but a dropped out of high school and a trained druggist, born in 1917 and raised in Markranstädt near Leipzig.
Kauka, who as an enthusiastic war officer already establishes contact with secret service circles, tinkers his life as a legend. Kauka has difficulties with denazification and publishes police specialist books as well as film and “men’s magazines” with nude covers in the small publishing house of his wife’s family.
Occasionally he draws himself, including an anti-Semitic caricature. When the first Mickey Mouse magazine appeared in 1951, Kauka was in league with the Pabel publishing house, which brought out the war-glorifying “Landser”. Together they countered Disney in 1953 with “German picture stories” and legendary figures such as Till Eulenspiegel and Münchhausen.
There the foxes Fix and Foxi appear, the big bad wolf soon became Lupo. Kauka writes his own texts, teaches morals, relies on education, and likes to point the finger. But he doesn’t take it too seriously himself, he bullies his children from time to time, soon changes wives and families quickly, disinherits daughters here, disciplines his employees there, conducts business and affairs at times from Italy by telephone and tape.
The Wehrmacht officer Kauka, writes Hechelhammer, felt the “joy of power” even as a young HJ leader. In issue 69, Fix and Foxi march in step with Lupo in 1956 for the rearmament of the Federal Republic, in issue 101 there are even dreams of the new “Wehrmacht”.
As a shrewd businessman, Kauka soon earns millions with the work of his creative people, which he invests in houses, yachts and horses. And hijack Disney’s elephant Dumbo for his magazines, which adorn Franco-Belgian licenses of Lucky Luke, Gaston or the Smurfs.
He also bought the translation license for Asterix cheaply, but he had it Germanized to “Siggi” and “Babarras” (Obelix), who suddenly ranted about “the time when we stood on the Dnepjr” and the little “Bonnhalla” against American occupiers defend. In “The Golden Sickle” they meet “a Yiddish-speaking trader named Schieberus”. Its scary. The satirical magazine “Pardon” reports the scandal and Kauka is rid of what is perhaps his most lucrative license.
When in Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt the comic children of the 50s protested on the streets as avant-garde of the 60s, many schooled in the ironic difference between image and bubble in Asterix and the dialectic of capital and happiness in Donald and Dagobert, Kauka uses his Comics continue to sniff out strange messages.
At Christmas 1967, the man in “Fix und Foxi” calls for prayers for the imprisoned Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess. You can’t believe your eyes.
Who cares that he also makes his fortune through cheap socialist draftsmanship in Yugoslavia, which was once occupied by the Wehrmacht… He also has smooth advertising cartoons designed for BMW, for example, and produces training films for the Bundeswehr and counterintelligence through his BND contacts. His “NS past was not a problem,” Hechelhammer writes, and one gradually begins to suspect why the secret service has little interest in publications from the Kauka file.
Kauka is like a “Scrooge in his own comic”, says one of his temporary brother-in-law, and that probably hits this narcissist quite well, who collects money and goods and also immediately undermines the copyright protection that has just been introduced for his creative people. He reigns supreme in his publishing house as well as in his private life, monitors the house up to the consumption of the family’s butter and what is ultimately astonishing is the detailed accuracy with which Hechelhammer is able to devote himself to the description of this self-important and narcissistic man.
It is surprising why he does not also illuminate his foxes and the comics more closely in addition to the “Prince”. Anyone who didn’t know Fix and Foxi will learn little about them and nothing about Professor Knox, Lupinchen, Aunt Eusebia or the allegations that Kauka plagiarized storylines from the great Disney. Kauka, who liked to pose in front of drawings, actually did not draw for his notebooks.
For the prince of foxes, Fix and Foxi are above all a means to an end, which is probably one of the reasons why he cannot let go of them. Kauka sold the publishing house several times, but always retained the rights to its characters. And that’s the end of it, after all. Where Asterix and Donald become world brands and guarantee billions in sales in their merchandising worlds, Fix and Foxi have been forgotten since the mid-nineties.
“Make others happy, then you can have fun” was Kauka’s motto. After reading this book you almost want to laugh.