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Set of US poster stamps depicting the Four Freedoms

Object | Accession Number: 2017.227.42

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    Set of US poster stamps depicting the Four Freedoms

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Poster stamps distributed in 1944 and 1945 by the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe. The designs were copied from works created by Jewish artist, Arthur Szyk, who was inspired by President Roosevelt’s January 1941 State of the Union address (also known as the Four Freedoms Speech), and used to create public interest in the Committee’s humanitarian efforts. Szyk was himself an immigrant born in Łódź, Poland, and lost his mother in the Holocaust. The mission of the Committee was a personal cause for Szyk, and he became one of the founding members. Although they were not valid for postage, poster stamps could be affixed to letters and envelopes as fund-raising, propaganda, and educational tools. The Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe was founded in 1943 by Peter H. Bergson (pseudonym for Hillel Kook) and other young Jewish activists. The Committee formed in reaction to the first verified information of the Holocaust that reached the United States. On July 20, 1943, the group held the Emergency Conference in New York City, bringing together 1,500 delegates. The Committee was replaced by the American League for a Free Palestine in 1945.
    Date
    distribution:  1944 September-1945
    designed:  1942
    Geography
    issue: New York (N.Y.)
    distribution: United States.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection, gift of Gregg and Michelle Philipson
    Markings
    front, top margin, printed, black ink : Approved by the National Poster Stamp Society, Certificate No. 170 / Herman Jaffe, Poster Stamp Consultant.
    front, upper left stamp, within banner, printed, black ink : freedom of speech
    front, upper right stamp, within banner, printed, black ink : freedom of religion
    front, lower left stamp, within banner, printed, black ink : freedom from want
    front, lower right stamp, within banner, printed, black ink : freedom from fear
    front, bottom of each stamp, printed, black ink : EMERGENCY COMMITTEE TO SAVE / THE JEWISH PEOPLE OF EUROPE / 25 W. 45TH ST., NEW YORK 19, N.Y.
    Signature
    front, bottom right corner of each stamp, black ink : Arthur Szyk / N.Y. 44.
    Contributor
    Distributor: Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, Inc.
    Designer: Arthur Szyk
    Printer: Herman Jaffe
    Biography
    The Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe was founded in 1943, by Peter Bergson and other young Jewish activists. The Committee formed in reaction to the first verified information of the Holocaust that reached the United States. On July 20, 1943, the group held the Emergency Conference in New York City, bringing together 1,500 delegates. The Committee was replaced by the American League for a Free Palestine in 1945.
    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

    Language
    English
    Classification
    Posters
    Object Type
    Poster stamps (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Stamps.
    Physical Description
    Block of four rectangular stamps on white paper depicting different scenes: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want & freedom form fear.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 4.875 inches (12.383 cm) | Width: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, ink, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The stamp was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2017 by Gregg Philipson.
    Record last modified:
    2024-01-16 14:20:16
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn562743

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