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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

WarsawGhetto

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising exhibit at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

When you enter the main gallery of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, you’ll see that the exhibit space is divided into three areas, each describing a different event that happened during the Holocaust on April 19, 2014.

One of the events described is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, more than 400,000 Jews from Warsaw and surrounding areas were confined to an approximately one-mile square area of the city. The ghetto was sealed closed with barbed wire and a 10-ft wall, and the Nazis imposed the death penalty on any Jews found outside its gates.

Meager food allotments by the Nazis in the ghetto – only 1,125 calories a day per person – lead to widespread starvation. Approximately 83,000 Jews died of hunger or disease between 1940 and mid-1942. Jewish organizations within the ghetto set up welfare organizations to help inhabitants, preventing even more deaths.

The Nazis began a “resettlement” program in the summer of 1942 and had deported 300,000 Jews from the ghetto by that September. It did not take long for word to spread among the remaining Jews in the ghetto that their friends, family and neighbors had not been resettled. Most had been murdered at the Treblinka Death Camp.

The last inhabitants of the ghetto decided they had to resist all future deportations. During one round up in January of 1943, rebels fought the Nazis and badly wounded a German soldier. The Nazis temporarily halted the deportations.

With a new SS police leadership in place, the Nazis returned on April 19, 1943 with the intention of liquidating the ghetto. They were met by approximately 750 Jewish resistance fighters armed with small weaponry, including Molotov cocktails and other improvised arms. The resistance fought for a month against the well-armed Germans before the operation concluded. Approximately 42,000 Warsaw ghetto survivors were sent to forced-labor camps at Poniatowa and Trawniki and to the Lublin/Majdanek concentration camp. Another 7,000 died during the uprising and 7,000 more were put to death at Treblinka.

To learn more about the story and hear about Dallas-area Warsaw ghetto survivors, please visit the Museum.

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

How Curious George Escaped the Nazis

showposterChildren’s author Louise Borden was, well, curious.

In 1995, while reading Publisher’s Weekly, the trade magazine of the book industry, Ms. Borden ran across an item about Margret Rey, the writer and illustrator known best for the Curious George series of children’s picture books that she and her husband, H.A. Rey, created from 1939 to 1966.

The short item noted how the Reys had escaped Paris in 1940, just ahead of the Nazi invasion of France, on bicycles and carrying a backpack with the manuscript of what would become the impetus for the first Curious George book.

The notice stirred the curiosity of Ms. Borden.

Had the Reys’ escape from wartime France ever been written about before? What route had the Reys followed to make their getaway? How did the Reys eventually end up publishing their series of books with one of the leading publishers in the U.S.?

So begins the story of author Louise Borden’s journey that concluded with the 2005 publication of The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey (now available in paperback from HMH Books for Young Readers), which chronicles the real-life escape of the Reys.

The book is the basis of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s current special exhibit, “The Wartime Escape Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France,” now through June 20th. Admission to the special exhibit is free with regular paid admission to the Museum.*

Ms. Borden was the special guest speaker on Feb. 12 at the opening reception for the new exhibit.

“I love the world of children’s books, and I loved telling this story,” Ms. Borden told a crowd of about 85 people who attended her presentation in the Museum Theater.

Curious George first appeared in 1941, published by Houghton Mifflin. The book begins with George living in Africa and tells the story of his capture by the Man with the Yellow Hat, who takes him on a ship to “the big city” where he will live in the zoo. Six other “original series” titles followed, and today, the books, which include more modern story lines, have sold more than 30 million copies in multiple languages.

The Reys were German-born Jews who most assuredly would have been captured by Nazis and deported to concentration or death camps.

In her presentation, Ms. Borden traced the Reys escape from Paris, through Spain, to Portugal, to Argentina and eventually to New York City, where the Reys lived in Greenwich Village to be close to their publisher and, later, following huge success with the Curious George book line, in Cambridge, MA near Harvard Square and at a charming New Hampshire farm.

Most of the research for the book on the couple’s wartime escape took place at the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. When Margret Rey died in 1996 (Hans had died in 1977), her will designated that the entire literary estate of the Reys be donated to the de Grummond Collection. In 1966, Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, a professor in the field of library science at USM, had contacted Mrs. Rey about the university’s new children’s literature collection and, well, the rest is history.

Many fascinating angles emerged from her research, Ms. Borden said, including the fact that Curious George had first been named “Fifi. In 1939, the Reys had signed a contract with the French publisher Gallimard for “Fifi” and other stories. As it turned out, the cash advance the couple had received would later finance their escape to South America.

In October 1940, the Reys sailed to New York, settling first on Long Island with relatives before moving to Manhattan. A year later, the book about “Fifi,” who had been renamed “George”—the publishers thought it a more appropriate name for a male monkey—first appeared.

“George was a name that would become memorable for generations to come,” Ms. Borden said. And so it remains.

Several activities for families are planned in conjunction with the special exhibit, among them:

-Get Curious at the Dallas Zoo, Feb. 22, 2015, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

-Spring Break with Curious George at the Museum, March 9-13, 11 a.m.

-Get Curious at Klyde Warren Park, Sunday, May 3, 2 p.m.

-Art Competition for Student Groups: Reception & Judging, May 10, 10 a.m.

A special Teacher’s Workshop is also planned for March 12. More information on the workshop may be found on the Museum website.

The Benefactor Sponsor for the event is Fox Rothschild LLP. The Friend Sponsor is the Janis Levine Music Women and Children’s Endowment Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Federation. Community Partners include the Dallas Zoo, Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Theater Center.

This project is supported in part by an award from Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

 *Please note that the Museum’s core exhibit is recommended for children age 11 and older.

–Chris Kelley for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

 

Special Exhibit About the Creators of Curious George Attracts Visitors of All Ages

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Installing the new exhibit, The Wartime Escape: Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France.

The new special exhibit, The Wartime Escape: Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France, lets the Museum to do something that we’ve never done before in our 30-plus years.

Speak to young children about issues surrounding life as a refugee during World War II through colorful, age-appropriate drawings and fun activities.

The exhibit is based on a children’s book about the creators of the character Curious George and their real-life escape from the Nazis in 1940. Margret and Hans A. Rey were artists and German-Jews living in Paris when the Nazis invaded France, and they had to escape the advancing occupation on bicycle. Their Curious George manuscript was one of the few items they were able to take with them.

While it is not advised for children younger than 10 to view the Museum’s core exhibit, Wartime Escape is suitable for younger kids. It uses colorful drawings to visually tell the story of the Reys’ journey through France, Spain, and Portugal, then on to Madeira Island, Brazil, and finally, the United States.

The exhibit offers something fun and educational for the whole family. Did you know, for example, that Curious George was originally going to be named Fifi? Or that the Reys had, at one time, two pet monkeys living with them in their apartment?

There is no discussion of concentration camps or antisemitism, but the exhibit can elicit age-appropriate conversations with children and prejudice and apathy. The Reys are the heroes of this story, and their lives can be tools to teach young people how to face and overcome challenges in the real world. The villains of the story – the Nazis —  are examples of how never to behave.

The exhibit includes a children’s area with books, pillows, tiny desks and chairs so parents and teachers can sit with youngsters and read. We’ve also planned a dozen or so fun and educational activities for children at the Museum during spring break and with our community partners, including the Dallas Zoo and Bookmarks in NorthPark Center. And, please, take a look at the Curious George toys and books in the Museum Store.

The Wartime Escape: Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France runs from February 12 to June 20, 2015. For more information about the children’s’ activities accompanying the exhibit, visit the Museum calendar at http://www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org/news/events.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Volunteers Starting Young at the Museum

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One of the young volunteers helps with merchandise for the Museum Store.

Volunteers at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance are younger and younger at heart.

In fact, 33 percent of the people signed up to volunteer at the Museum are age 20 to 24, a much higher percentage than seen at other organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the volunteer rate among people of that age group nationwide was only 18.5 percent in 2013.

It may seem a contradiction that young people would want to volunteer at the Museum which might – at first glance – seem to have little to interest them. After all, the Holocaust ended 70 years ago, before even some of our volunteers’ grandparents were born.

But Jason Lalonde, the Museum’s program coordinator who organizes the facility’s volunteer efforts, says the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s message of tolerance and hope for a future without hate speaks to Millennials. They want to be Upstanders – people who stand up against hatred rather than be indifferent toward it.

“I think that younger people are often hopeful and open to changing behaviors and may be the ones who experience bullying and intolerance, so the message of education, tolerance, and becoming an Upstander resonates with them,” he said.

Lalonde also points to the more tangible aspects of volunteering at the Museum. Young volunteers can gain experience in fundraising, event planning, accounting, sales, academic research and other areas that they might want to pursue as careers later in life.

The Museum actively recruits volunteers through college volunteer fairs and employment offices as well as volunteer websites. Many volunteers, Lalonde said, also hear about the program from their friends who are involved with the Museum and have a great time volunteering.

For more information about volunteering at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, visit http://www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org/support/volunteer or email volunteer@dallasholocaustmuseum.org.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

A Peek at the New Museum

NewMuseumA visit to the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance on a busy day can seem like you’re walking into controlled chaos.

When the 6,000 sq. ft. exhibit space, which can only fit 250 visitors at one time, is filled with one or more school classes, police officers from a diversity workshop, groups of downtown conventioneers, tourists, locals, Museum members and others, staff must perform an intricate dance to control traffic, moving folks through tours, special exhibit areas and the theater in unison to prevent gridlock. Still, there is a finite amount of space, and when it is filled, crowding is unavoidable.

It is a bittersweet circumstance that more people want to visit the Dallas Holocaust Museum and learn about its mission than can physically fit, but overcrowding is an issue Museum officials know they must address. That is why officials are in the beginning phases of building a new and larger museum, and their plans involve strengthening and expanding the Museum’s mission.

“Our focus, of course, will be on preserving evidence of the Holocaust and teaching lessons of that event,” President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins told a Dallas Morning News reporter in a recent article about the plans. “But we also want to deal with genocide around the world and current events related to prejudice and hatred, and goodness knows there are plenty of things happening today that prove the reason why this museum is important. I don’t know any other Holocaust museum that deals with the civil rights movement and human rights issues.”

Michael Berenbaum, former project director for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is working on the potential museum’s exhibit plan and Omniplan architects are involved with building design. No details on the facility’s size and cost have been nailed down, but officials have purchased land near the current Museum for the new space.

The lessons of the Holocaust – the importance of tolerance, diversity and standing up for yourself and others – are more important today than ever. Research indicates children begin developing racial biases as young as three. All people must consider how their behavior towards others are crucial in creating a world where hate and intolerance do not exist.

School children made up approximately half of the 65,000 visitors who came to the Museum in 2014, and more are expected in 2015. A second-year partnership with DISD that brings economically disadvantaged students to the Museum for free through generous donations is expected to bring thousands of students.

No timeline has been set up for the creation of a new Holocaust museum, but the need for a larger space for learning about the Holocaust and human rights in our area is clear. Please stay tuned.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

As ‘Propaganda and Persuasion,’ Arthur Szyk’s Art Inspired the American Home Front During World II Like No Other Artist, Dallas Attorney and Art Collector Rogge Dunn Says

Rogge Dunn

Rogge Dunn

Arthur Szyk was a gifted artist who used his pen against masters of propaganda during World War II—the evil Nazi regime, said Dallas lawyer and art collector Rogge Dunn.

“For Arthur Szyk, art was propaganda with a point of view, and he used his gift to stand up” against hatred, prejudice and indifference, Dunn told a Museum crowd of about 75 people at a Jan. 12 special presentation, “Art as Propaganda and Persuasion.”

A fifth generation Texan and a native of Dallas, Dunn is a founding partner of Clouse Dunn LLP, a law firm specializing in business and employment litigation. An avid collector of arts and antiques, he has a special affinity for World War I- and II-era propaganda posters, which he began collecting as a student at the London School of Economics in 1977.

Locally, pieces of his collection have been displayed at the Hall of State at Fair Park during the State Fair of Texas and the Frontiers of Flight Museum.

The work of Arthur Szyk is the subject of the current special exhibit at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, “Drawn to Action: the Life and Work of Arthur Szyk,” through Jan. 31.

During World War II, Syzk engaged in a ‘one man war’ against Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, and also served as a ‘one-man army’ against the evil Axis. He did so through finely detailed, elegant and pointed political and satirical caricature drawings, which served as a one-two combination of social justice and great art.

To effectively persuade a viewer, Dunn said, propaganda art must have a clear objective in mind. He suggested these “pillars of propaganda” are to:

  • Ridicule and vilify the opponent
  • Scare the viewer to prevent the threat
  • Glorify those who have taken action
  • Humiliate the viewer into action
  • Evoke empathy in the viewer by sharing suffering

Arthur Szyk’s meticulous hand-drawn art work was intended to motivate citizens into action both on the war front and the home front, Dunn said.

“In the Internet age,” Dunn said, “We sometimes forget the power of a single image to convey a persuasive message. It still does.”

Special thanks to the Texas Jewish Artists Association for sponsoring the event reception.

Please plan to join the Museum for these special upcoming events:

Sunday, Jan. 25, 3 p.m.: International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at the Museum.

Thursday, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m.: Opening reception of the new special exhibit, “The Wartime Escape: Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France”; Louise Borden, author of the War Time Escape, will speak about her discovery of the Rey’s story—a story which had not been previously known.

Thursday, March 26, 6:30 p.m., at the Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas, TX 75225, the Upstander Speaker Series presents Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player in the NFL, who will speak about his decision to “come out” in the often hostile and homophobic world of professional sports in his message of “Start Where You Are, Use what you Have and Do What you Can.”

-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

New Partnership with DISD Brings More Students to the Museum

TeacherSmA new partnership between the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance and local school officials has brought close to 3,000 Dallas Independent School District children from high-poverty area schools to the Museum for the first time this school year.

The program, made possible through individual and foundation donations, pays the admission and transportation costs for schools that would not otherwise be able to afford the field trip. Visits to the Museum help students understand the history of the Holocaust; the catastrophic impact hate, bigotry and prejudice can have on their own lives and on society; and the importance of standing up for themselves and others when faced with moral challenges.

Students tour the Museum’s main and special exhibit areas with trained docents and listen to survivors who tell of their experiences during the Holocaust and its consequences on their lives and families. The Museum’s education staff provides teachers with Holocaust and human rights curriculum assistance before and after the visit.

Cost per Dallas student is approximately $10.50 and is paid for through the Museum Experience Fund, a program created in late 2013 to help students from economically disadvantaged and Title 1 schools and organizations visit the Museum free of cost.

A study released in October by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit organization that conducts research and analysis on government policies and programs, stated that per pupil spending in Texas schools has fallen 9.4 percent between 2008 and this year.

Recognizing that shrinking per student spending impacts a school’s ability to fund off-campus learning activities, Museum officials started the fund to ensure that all students — no matter their economic circumstances — could benefit from the Museum’s lessons on the dangers of intolerance and bystander behavior. Although many children visit the Museum with their families, low-income parents may not have the resources to take their children to the Museum on their own outside school hours.

The 2014-5 school year marks the first time DISD has been able to send a large number of students to the Museum. Due to the success of the program, officials expect greater numbers of Dallas students to visit next school year.

Dr. Charlotte Decoster, Assistant Director of Education at the Museum, said the Dallas students have really responded to hearing survivors speak during their visits.

“Many of these kids have already experienced discrimination in their own lives, and when they hear Max [a Holocaust survivor] speak about his experiences with discrimination and how he survived, they know they can, too,” Dr. Decoster said. “They see you have to stand up for others as well as yourself.”

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Upstander Series Speaker and Chinese Human Rights Activist Harry Wu: Bitter Winds Remain Gale Force in China

Harry Wu

For 19 years, Harry Wu, a young geologist from Shanghai, was confined to the laogai, China’s system of forced-labor camps.

Imprisoned in 12 different camps, beginning in 1960, he was forced to mine coal, build roads, clear land and harvest crops. Routinely beaten, tortured and nearly starved to death, he witnessed the deaths of many prisoners from brutality, starvation and suicide, which he attempted twice.

In despair, Wu, a lifelong Catholic, said, “I stopped praying. There was no hope.”

Harry Wu, now 77, told his gripping story of survival—and detailed continuing human rights abuses in China—to a standing-room only crowd on Dec. 4 as the Museum’s final speaker of the 2014 Upstander Speaker Series. His story is detailed in his harrowing memoir, Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in the Chinese Gulag (1995, Wiley)

Wu was born into an affluent family in Shanghai; his father was a banking official and his mother “had descended from a family of well-to-do landlords.” Wu recalled: “My youth was one of peace and pleasure.

Then in 1949 came the communist revolution, led by Mao Zedong, who became Chairman of the Community Party of China. “My life changed dramatically. During my teen-age years, my father lost all his properties. We had money problems. The government took over all the property in the country. We even had to sell my piano.”

Wu studied at the Geology Institute in Beijing where he earned a degree. In 1956, the Communist Party began a campaign encouraging citizens, particularly students and intellectuals, to express their true views of the Party and the state of society (known as the Hundred Flowers Campaign). Although cautious, Wu eventually voiced some sentiments, by disagreeing with the Soviet’s armed crackdown of Hungary, and the practice of labeling people into different categories.

By the Fall of 1956, Mao abruptly reversed course, proclaiming that the true enemies of the Party had been exposed, and 19-year-old Wu was subsequently singled out at his university. “This was the first time I had ever been singled out as a political troublemaker,” Wu wrote later. “Most of my classmates were more pragmatic than I, and they just repeated what the Communists wanted to hear.”

For the next few years, Wu was criticized in Party meetings and closely monitored until his arrest in 1960 at the age of 23 when he was charged with being a “counterrevolutionary rightist,” and was sent to the laogai to serve a life sentence.

In 1979, at the age of 42, Wu was released from his life sentence, as some blatantly unjust sentences were re-adjudicated following the death of Mao in 1976.

Wu left China for the United States in 1985, after having received a chance invitation to become a visiting scholar from a University of California faculty member at Berkeley who had happened upon an article that Wu had written in an academic journal on Geology.

Arriving in the U.S. with only 40 dollars, a few clothes, and an ink tiger print that he had inherited from his father, Wu had to improvise where he would live since he did not have funding from the university for his first year. At first he was sleeping in the park, and in the subway when it rained. He got a night shift job making donuts at a donut shop for a few months; then a job at a liquor store, and was finally able to rent a cheap apartment. Wu continued to work various odd jobs during this period and in 1988 began working for an electronic chip manufacturer, where he became an assistant manager, and was able to buy a used car. Looking back on this period of his life, Wu felt that there was opportunity and if he just worked hard he could make it. After a series of meetings with a Catholic priest, Wu said he recovered his faith.

During his first years in America, Wu did not want to think about or discuss politics. He felt that he had already lost the years of his youth and he wanted to try to carve out a personal life and enjoy his freedom. But slowly he found himself getting drawn back into the discussion about prison camps in China and his own experiences there.

Called to testify before Congress, Wu became a human right activist.

In 1991, Wu accompanied Ed Bradley of the CBS news program 60 Minutes to mainland China for a story in which they posed as businessmen interested in purchasing factory goods in mainland China that had been manufactured by the slave labor of Chinese prisoners.

In 1992, Wu established the Laogai Research Foundation, a non-profit research and public education organization, considered a leading source for information on China’s labor camps; and was instrumental in proving that organs of executed criminals were used for organ transplants.

In 1995 Wu, by then a U.S. citizen, was arrested as he tried to enter China with valid, legal documentation. He was held by the Chinese government for 66 days before he was convicted for “stealing state secrets.” He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was instead immediately deported from China. He attributes his release to an international campaign launched on his behalf.

In November 2008, Wu opened the Laogai Museum in Washington, D.C., the first ever United States museum to directly address human rights in China. Wu said he continues to be surprised by Western countries and governments engaging in business deals with a government where human rights abuses on a massive scale continue unabated—abuses such as China’s one-child policy, the political and legal status of Tibet, neglect of freedom of the press in mainland China, lack of legal recognition of human rights and the lack of an independent judiciary, rule of law, and due process.

“Harry Wu’s story of courage, reconciliation and simple human dignity is a history lesson all of us should become familiar with,” said Mary Pat Higgins, Museum President & CEO.

The 2014 Upstander Speaker Series Presenting Sponsor is Bank of Texas; Speaker sponsors include Richard and Trea Yip and The Dallas Morning News.

Be sure to save these 2015 dates for the Upstander Speaker Series, which promise another year of thought-provoking commentary and conversation. Locations for teach of these speakers will be announced closer to the events:

March 26: Michael Sam, currently a free agent in the NFL who, on Feb. 9, 2014, became the first openly gay football player drafted into the NFL.

June 4: Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland who has been described by the Polish author Mladen Petrov as the “24/7 Rabbi” for his tireless efforts to rebuild Jewish life in Poland that was nearly obliterated during the Holocaust.

October 26: Roméo Antonius Dallaire, a Canadian humanitarian, author and retired senator and general. Dallaire served as Force Commander of UNAMIR, the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force for Rwanda between 1993 and 1994, that attempted to stop the genocide that was being waged by Hutu extremists against Tutsis and Hutu moderates.

Meantime, be sure to visit the Museum’s current Special Exhibit, “Drawn to Action: The Life and Work of Arthur Szyk,” through Jan. 31. Szyk was a Polish-Jewish refugee who settled in the U.S. during WWII, advocating for democracy and fighting Hitler’s hatred with elaborate political cartoons featured on the covers of the most prominent American wartime magazines and journals.

-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

For Arthur Syzk, art became means to focus fearful world on tyranny of hatred; new must-see Special Exhibit opens at the Museum

“An artist, and especially a Jewish artist, cannot be neutral in these times…our life is involved in a terrible tragedy, and I am resolved to serve my people with all my art, with all my talent, with all my knowledge.” -Arthur Szyk, 1934

Artist Arthur Syzk was a proud Polish Jew who later became an American patriot. He saw his pen as a weapon against hatred and injustice.

“Art is not my aim,” he said, “it is my means. “

Indeed, during World War II, Syzk engaged in a ‘one man war’ against Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, and also served as a ‘one-man army’ against the evil Axis. He did so through finely detailed, elegant and pointed political and satirical caricature drawings, which served as a one-two combination of social justice and great art.

A curated selection of Syzk’s work is the new Special Exhibit at the Dallas Holocaust Museum through Jan. 31, 2015, “Drawn to Action: The Life and Work of Arthur Syzk.” The special exhibit is free with paid admission.

Syzk expressed his feelings toward those he despised—and those he wanted to portray as heroic or powerful—through dramatic color and exaggerated features. One sketch by Syzk from 1933 depicts Hitler as Pharaoh and Hermann Goring as a vizier.

His art was never ambiguous or abstract, Rabbi Irvin Ungar of New York once told the Atlantic. “It almost always had a common theme. Freedom not tyranny; justice not oppression—which, when combined with the uniqueness of his style, is why Syzk became one of the leading political artists of the first half of the 20th century.”

Presenting Sponsors for the special exhibit are Kathy and Harlan Crow and Gregg and Michelle Philipson, whose personal Arthur Syzk collection made the Museum’s curated collection of Syzk’s work possible. The Jan Karski Polish School of Dallas is Community Partner for the exhibit.

Realizing his illustrations could do more than words, Szyk set about documenting the atrocities committed by the Nazis in an attempt to shed light on the injustice brewing in Europe, Gregg Philipson, a devoted Szyk collector, told a crowd gathered for the exhibit’s opening reception on Nov. 13.

“He held a lonely pen in a crazy world,” said Philipson, who is a commissioner on the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. “Eleanor Roosevelt called him a one-man army for the Allied cause.”

During World War II, Syzk’s illustrations were published throughout the U.S. in publications such as Time, Colliers and The American Mercury.

Sadly, Szyk died of a heart attack at the age of 57, on Sept. 13, 1951, in the U.S., leaving a rich and diverse body of work from illustrations of classic children’s books and an ornate illustrated Haggadah to highly charged and dramatic political cartoons covering the Nazis invasion of Poland through the civil rights era of the United States.

Thankfully, we are able to remember his works, his passion and his talent through his art—and legacy.

Please plan to join the Museum on Thursday, Dec. 4, for an Upstander Speaker Series presentation, featuring Harry Wu, a Chinese human rights activist who spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps. Mr. Wu will talk about his life in the labor camps, state-sponsored terror and torture, and what we, as citizens, can do about the tragic situation faced by others held against their will by cruel governments. Admission is $10 for non-members and $5 for students with ID.

In January, the Museum is hosting two special events you won’t want to miss. On Jan. 15, 2015, at 6:30 p.m., Rogge Dunn, founding partner at Clouse and Dunn, will speak on the topic of art as propaganda and Arthur Szyk.

And, on Jan. 25 at 3 p.m., the Museum will commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

–Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

 

 

Drawn to Action: The Life and Work of Arthur Szyk

HitlerSzykDrawn to Action: The Life and Work of Arthur Szyk is a special exhibition that is open from now until January 31, 2015.

Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was a Polish-Jew (and in the last decade of his life, an American-Jew) most known for his political and satirical caricatures of the Axis powers and its leaders. “Art is not my aim, it is my means.” Szyk proclaimed.

You’ll notice his illustrations use a stimulating palette of color and are meticulously intricate. His great attention to detail have been compared to what you would see from medieval monks and renaissance painters.

Ironically, before Szyk had even been to the United States, he did a series that depicted scenes of George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They were purchased by President Ignacy Moscicki of Poland as a gift for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and hung in the White House until 1943.

Szyk would consider his greatest achievement to be his illustrated version of the Haggdah, which tells the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt and took him 4 years to complete.

As soon as the Nazi boots stepped onto Polish soil, Szyk reacted immediately. He expressed his feelings by fiercely taking pen to paper in a “creative fight against oppression”. He turned Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese into extensively embellished and evil caricatures.

His anti-Nazi cartoons continued to be effective propaganda when he left Europe in 1940 and settled in New York. He was on a mission, literally “to alert and inform the Americans about the gravity of the situation in Europe.” Eleanor Roosevelt described him as a “one-man army” for the Allied Cause.

After World War II, Szyk embraced the patriotism of his adopted country and was granted American citizenship in 1948. Szyk continued to work and completed illustrations of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales and even advertisements for Coca-Cola. Ever the activist, his later artwork allowed him to continue to be a voice against injustice… specifically against Jim Crow, the KKK and lynching.

The exhibit officially opened on October 25, but be sure to catch the Opening Reception for this one-of-kind exhibition November 13 at 6:30 p.m. RSVPS are required at rsvp@dallasholocaustmuseum.org. The public is invited.

Presenting sponsors for the Drawn to Action exhibit are Kathy and Harlan Crow and Gregg and Michelle Philipson Collection and Archive. Community Partners include the Jan Karski Polish School of Dallas.

– Devynn Case, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

 

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