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April Fool's Day, 1918

←1917      1919→

Hindenburg’s April Fool Joke (1918) During a conference with the German press in January 1918, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg was asked to address the fear that there would be no food in Germany by May of that year. Hindenburg reportedly said, "My reply is that by next April I shall be in Paris."

When April 1 arrived and the German forces were no closer to Paris than they had been in January, the western press gleefully portrayed Hindenburg as an April Fool. In fact, Hindenburg's non-arrival in Paris was, by far, the dominant April Fool's Day story in 1918 — a year which otherwise saw few notable pranks (would-be pranksters were evidently in a subdued mood because of the ongoing war). Cartoonists, in particular, used the imagery of classic April Fool's Day pranks (the purse on a string, brick in a hat, etc.) to portray Hindenburg as a foolish victim of his own hubris.