WWII's Fighting Artist
1941 - 1945
Szyk publishes The New Order.
The book contained a series of thirty paintings and drawings in black and white, and nine full color cartoons. It was one of the first books of anti-fascist satirical caricatures to be published in the US, seven months after Szyk’s arrival in America.
Arthur Szyk meets Eleanor Roosevelt.
Szyk presents a signed sheet of British American Ambulance Corps stamps to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She becomes a personal friend and occasionally mentions the artist in her newspaper column My Day.
Nazis invade the Soviet Union in June.
The Historic Poker Game explores the relationship between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. ‘Ivan’ the Russian and Hitler sit across one another playing a game of cards, both gambling on the future of their respective countries. Watching over them is Death, interestedly waiting on the outcome.
Hitler holds 3 Jokers (Mussolini, Hirohito and Pétain), and the outcome is uncertain. In this powerful image, Szyk summarizes the events of September, 1941. The US, though still neutral, supported the USSR with gold. With Britain and Russia holding firm, Hitler was unable to advance. It seemed as if his long winning streak might be ending.
This painting was featured on the cover of Collier’s in November 1941 issue.
1941 - 1945
Szyk works tirelessly for the war effort.
Over this 5 year period, Szyk is most prolific, producing more than one thousand five hundred cartoons and caricatures for publication across the US.
A surprise attack on Pearl Harbor brings US into the War.
This chest-length portrait shows Admiral Yamamoto of Japan in his uniform, against a yellow background punctuated with two large, staring eyes. It was featured on the cover of TIME magazine on December 22nd, 1941, just two weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack.
1941 - 45
Szyk illustrates caricatures and editorial cartoons for publication in American magazines and newspapers.
His work is featured in publications such as TIME, Esquire, and Collier’s and in newspapers from coast to coast. More than two dozen exhibitions of Szyk’s caricatures are organized at fine art galleries and museums nationwide, including M. Knoedler & Co., Andre Seligmann, and the Palace of the Legion of Honor (San Francisco). Reproductions of Szyk’s art mocking Hitler and the Axis Powers are exhibited at more than 500 USO bases, where they are hugely popular with American troops. Szyk collaborates with the Bergson Group, a network of Jewish activists led by Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) that lobbied for the rescue of European Jewry.
The Nazi invasion of Stalingrad commences.
Szyk’s work It’s a Lie is produced the following year. Goebbels stands in front of a microphone, brazenly declaring that the Nazi invasion of Stalingrad is progressing well, when the hilltop behind him is populated with Nazi graves.
Nazis arrive at the Final Solution: to systematically exterminate all Jews in Europe.
This genocide, the Holocaust, saw the massacre of two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
Szyk created De Profundis at a time when the full horror of the Holocaust was being revealed to the world. The work shows the suffering and slaughter of an innocent people for their faith. Men, women, and children are piled together in a mountain of dead and dying humanity. (Jesus, the Jewish rabbi, lies among them as well.) It was published in the Chicago Sun on February 12, 1943.
Szyk’s mother and brother die in Poland.
Szyk’s mother and brother were seized from the Łódź ghetto and murdered at Chelmno killing center.
The We Will Never Die Pageant raises awareness of the plight of Europe’s Jews.
It was organized by Ben Hecht (screenwriter and author), produced by Billy Rose and Ernst Lubitsch, and staged by Moss Hart, a leading Broadway producer. The Pageant starred Edward G. Robinson, Sylvia Sidney and Paul Muni, and traveled to six US cities. It was performed in Madison Square Garden in front of 40,000 spectators on March 9, 1943. Szyk created the cover drawing for the brochure for this momentous event.
Events turn against the Axis powers.
In the latter part of 1943, events began to turn against Hitler and the Axis powers. Their invasion of Stalingrad fails, and the Allies (US, UK and USSR) demand Axis surrender. They open up a second front against the German Reich. Szyk’s work He’s at the End of the Rope Now captures a feeling of hope that the War may soon be over. He includes himself in the work, actively drawing Hitler’s demise, a true ‘soldier in art’.
The Warsaw Ghetto uprising occurs.
The Warsaw Ghetto uprising was an act of Jewish resistance against Nazi attempts to transfer residents to the Treblinka extermination camp. Szyk commemorated the heroic stance of the members of the uprising in this drawing, The Repulsed Attack. The uprising ended after a month, when Nazi’s liquidated the Ghetto. Some 13,000 Jews were killed during the revolt, and the majority of the remaining 50,000 survivors were shipped to extermination camps.
The Allies land at Normandy.
On June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded Normandy using some 24,000 troops via air and amphibious landing craft, accompanied by air and naval bombardment. They advanced towards Germany.