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Arthur Szyk poster for the Polish-Soviet War 1919-1921

Object | Accession Number: 2008.39.1

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    Brief Narrative
    War propaganda poster designed by Arthur Szyk to rally the Polish people against the Bolsheviks during the Polish-Soviet War, February 1919 - March 1921. It depicts wounded Polish soldiers next to a 19th century patriotic poem by M. Romanowski celebrating the Polish Homeland. Szyk was a Polish Army officer and artistic director of the Department of Propaganda for the Polish army regiment quartered in Łódź during this war. In 1921, Szyk moved to Paris where he established his career as one of the greatest modern creators of illuminated miniatures. After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, his work focused on anti-Nazi political cartoons. In the US, Szyk became a leading anti-Fascist editorial caricaturist, creating works to bring attention to the mass murder of Europe’s Jews by Nazi Germany. Szyk's art, throughout his career, expressed support for human dignity, freedom, and tolerance.
    Artwork Title
    Ojczyźnie naszej Polsce bądźmy wierni
    Alternate Title
    To our homeland, Poland, let us be faithful
    publication/distribution:  1920
    manufacture: Łódź (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Alina Skibinska
    front, bottom center, red ink: Ojczyźnie naszej Polsce bądźmy wierni, / Pokąd tchu w łonie. / Stójmy wy trwali, gdy wieńce nam z cierni / Kładą na skronie. / Nieszcześcia i klęski niech miłość połamie. / Czy dźwiga nas dola, czy chytrze nam kłamie, / Ojczyźnie tej życie, krew nasza i ramie, / I chwała w zgonie! / M. Romanowski [To our homeland, Poland, let us be faithful, / from our first breath outside of womb. / Let us stand tall and persevere while crowns of thorns / are placed on our heads! / Let love defeat these calamities and disasters. / Does fate not drag us onwards, and cunningly deceive us, / The life of this Homeland, our blood and our arm / And glory in death! ]
    front, lower center, black ink: Printer: Kotkowski I Frejlich w Łodzi, ul. Piotrkowska 91.
    front, lower right of image, black ink: A. SZYK – 20 –
    Artist: Arthur Szyk
    Subject: Arthur Szyk
    Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was born to Jewish parents, Solomon and Eugenia Szyk in Łódź, Poland, which at the time was part of the Russian Empire. He had his first public art exhibition at age 15, and then went to Paris, France, for formal art training at the Academie Julian. He visited Palestine in 1914 with a group of Polish-Jewish artists and studied Muslim art. Upon his return, he was conscripted into the Russian Army and served in World War I. He married Julia Liekerman in 1916, and they had a son, George, in 1917. In 1918, Poland regained independence, but continued to fight a series of regional wars to secure its boundaries. Between 1919 and 1920, during Poland's war against the Soviet Bolsheviks, Syzk served as a cavalry officer and artistic director of the Department of Propaganda for the Polish Army in Łódź. In 1921, he and his family moved to Paris where his daughter, Alexandra was born the following year.

    Szyk was well known for his illuminations and book illustrations, in a style reminiscent of Persian miniatures. He worked on several significant projects in France, including illustrating the Statute of Kalisz, the Haggadah, and a series of watercolors on the American Revolutionary War. The themes of his most admired works, democracy and Judaism, were already well established, earning him both fame and significant commissions. In 1934, Szyk traveled to the United States for exhibitions of his work and to receive the George Washington Bicentennial Medal, awarded by the US Congress. He resided in England from 1937-1940 to supervise the publication of the Haggadah. In 1939, following Germany's invasion of Poland, he focused on producing anti-Nazi editorial cartoons published in many Western newspapers and magazines. During the German occupation of Poland, his 70 year old mother, Eugenia, and her Polish companion were forced to live in the Łódź ghetto. In 1943, they were transported to Majdanek concentration camp and killed.

    In late 1940, Szyk immigrated to the United States with his family. He became a leading anti-Fascist political caricaturist as well as an advocate for Jewish rescue. In addition to his widely published satirical art, Szyk devoted a great deal of time and energy to the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, and pushed for the establishment of an independent Jewish state in Palestine. Szyk received his US citizenship in 1948. In 1951, he was investigated by the United States House Un-American Activities Committee as a suspected Communist. His son, speaking on his behalf, declared his non-affiliation with any Communist organization. Later that year, on September 13, Szyk suffered a heart attack and died at age 57.

    Physical Details

    War propaganda
    Physical Description
    Poster on paper with a light brown border and a green background. At the top center is an image of 5 soldiers engaged in battle, several of whom are wounded. Below this, in the center of the poster, is the text of a poem in Polish printed with red ink.
    overall: Height: 10.875 inches (27.623 cm) | Width: 8.500 inches (21.59 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The poster was donated to the United Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2008 by Alina Skibinska.
    Record last modified:
    2023-07-10 10:52:46
    This page:

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