Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"The Superman" won 1943 Amazing Stories Hitler Contest

Here’s a fascinating story: In the November 1943 issue of Amazing Stories magazine, the editor, Raymond A. Palmer, announced a “Hitler Illustration Contest.” Contestants were asked to write a 1,000 word short story based on an illustration of Adolf Hitler seated in an airplane/spaceship beside an unhuman-looking being (see below). The grand prize for the best story was $1,000 in United States war bonds, with the stipulation that the prize would be doubled if the winner was a member of any branch of the American armed forces.

The contest winner, announced in the March 1944 issue, was Captain Meyer Friedenson, an officer in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army and a native of Bronx, New York, who submitted a story titled “The Superman” in which a Martian named Mephitis is relieved of his command and taken back to Mars after a 1,500-year failure to conquer Earth (first as Attila the Hun, then as Genghis Khan, next as Napoleon Bonaparte, and lastly as Adolf Hitler), where he stands trial before the “Court of General Failures” in the case of “Mars versus Mephitis.”

Equally interesting were some of the observations the magazine editor, Raymond A. Palmer, made about the contest. First, “To our utter amazement more than half the contestants were women!” Second, the most common story theme submitted by writers was “Hitler kidnapped by the Martians.” Third, three of the nine writers who received honorable mentions were women: Mrs. Ione Bloodsworth of Silver Spring, Maryland; Miss Nell G. Fahrion of Denver, Colorado; and Clayre Strzelecki Lipman of Sausalito, California!

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