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A rare German alphabet book was printed in the first year of WWII in Styria, Austria, a partially Slavic region, that the Nazis wanted to Germanise. Laden with political propaganda, but very high quality illustrations by the Austrian painter Norbertine von Bresslern-Roth.


8°, [1] printed title, 108 pp. with lithographed colour illustrations within text, [1] full page colour lithographed illustration, hardcover binding with pasted illustration on the cover, later spine (used condition, cover rubbed, scuffed corners, loss of linen to the spine, paper slightly stained, some tears and loss of paper in white margins, WWII primary school library stamp on the title page, page 59-60 with small tears and folds in margins, sporadic lines in pencil and black ink).


This rare alphabet book, accompanied by high quality illustrations educated children in reading, as well as accepting the new political regime. The book was printed in 1941 in Graz, Styria in Austria, a partially Slavic region, which the Nazis wanted to Germanize.  

Following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, virtually all of Lower Styria, in addition to some adjacent territories, was annexed to Nazi Germany. Hitler, upon his visit to Maribor (German: Marburg am Drau), the main city
of Lower Styria, declared that he “wanted to make Styria German again”. The Nazis then embarked upon a dastardly design to ‘remove’ the majority of ethnic Slovenes, as well as other non-Germans, from both Lower Styria and Carinthia. In their place, ethnic Germans would be resettled into the regions, giving them German demographic super-majorities.

Heinrich Himmler, the heinous head of the SS, was charged with devising the basic plan. He decided that all non-Germans who had moved to Lower Styria and Carinthia after 1914 (the start of World War I) should automatically be deported from the region (many people from other parts of Yugoslavia had moved to Lower Styria since then). Additionally, Nazi doctors should examine all ethnically “suspicious” people, and if they did not meet their racial criteria, they should also be deported. Next, all Slovenian and non-German intellectuals and political activists should be removed. This would have the effect of decapitating the local society, removing virtually all of its leadership and, supposedly with it, the possibility for organized resistance. Finally, Himmler would remove most Slovenian farmers, so that their land could be given to German settlers. The only Slovenes and others who would be exempt from deportation would be mine workers (necessary for the Nazi war effort) and collaborators. If followed, this diabolical plan would establish ethnic German super-majorities in both Lower Styria and all parts of Carinthia.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Himmler’s plan for Lower Styria and Carinthia was similar in many respects to the ones he had already instigated to ethnically cleanse parts of the Czech Republic and Poland, although the details are unique to this situation.

The Nazi high command decided that the ethnic cleansing programme for Styria and Carinthia would be orchestrated in collaboration with the newly established Axis-puppet Ustaše regime in the Independent State of Croatia. The Ustaše had their agenda that dovetailed into the Nazi programme. The Croatians desired to remove ethnic Serbians, who were overwhelmingly Orthodox Christians, from their territory, particularly in Slavonia and Bosnia, populations that they wanted to replace with either ethnic Croatians or Roman Catholics of other nationalities. Thee overarching principles of this horrific programme were devised in Berlin and approved by Hitler on May 25, 1941.

The illustrator Norbertine von Bresslern-Roth (1891 – 1978) was a famous Austrian illustrator and printer from Graz. She was schooled in Dachau an at the Art academy of Vienna, where she got specialised in linocuts and animal illustration, as well as illustration of children’s books. Von Bresslern-Roth was active in her native Graz in Styria, Austria, during WWII, where she illustrated this politically powerful children’s book. At the same time she was also making illustrations, critic to the regime. Von Bresslern-Roth husband Georg von Bresslern († 1952) was of Jewish origins, but she refused to get a divorce during the war.

This example bears a stamp of a primary school of “St. Veit on the Sava, South Carinthia” (St. Veit an der Sawe, Südkärnten). The German name marks today Šentvid, the suburbs of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, in Crain, which was shortly, after the Nazi occupation in 1941, renamed to South Carinthia, a prolongation of the Austrian region, since Germany did not recognise the all Slavic region Crain. The town Šentvid was placed directly on the barbwire, which separated the Fascist occupied Ljubljana and Nazi occupied Crain. The pro-Nazi propaganda in such border cities had to be stronger than in the interior, to prevent underground movements. By 1945 the city had a large percentage of Nazi sympathisers, which after WWII emigrated to South and North America through a refugee camp in Spittal in Austria.


This is the fourth edition, issued in 1941. All the examples of this book are rare, as they were mostly destroyed after the war.

We could only trace one to three institutional examples of this fourth edition (1941) in libraries worldwide (German National Library, Leipzig,  Slovenian School Museum (or 1943 edition?), Velenje – Slovenija (same edition?)).

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