United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Oh Ye Dry Bones, Hear the Word of the Lord, 1944
The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk
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[USHMM #93709/University of Virginia, Alderman Library, Charlottesville; The Answer, November 1944;
Original dimensions: 10 15/16" x 8 3/8" x 3/16"]
Oh Ye Dry Bones, Hear the Word of the Lord, 1944
The figure of the Wandering Jew appears in a number of Szyk's works from the 1940s, including the piece entitled "Oh ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!" (Ezekiel 37:4). The work appeared on the cover of the Bergsonite journal The Answer in November 1944, circulated in Bergsonite petition drives, and was included in Ink & Blood (1946). The image shows the Wandering Jew passing through a massive graveyard filled with the skulls and bones of the Jewish dead. The perpetrators—Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler—look on in disbelief. Throughout the drawing are tombstones, marked with the Star of David, that memorialize several sites where Jews were murdered in large numbers: Majdanek, Bialystok, Tremblinka (Treblinka), and Oswiecim (Auschwitz). Szyk seems to have modeled the piles of bones on photographs showing the post-liberation exhumations at Majdanek, the Nazi camp that had been liberated in July 1944. Auschwitz was still operating when Szyk created this image


The drawing carries several potent messages. The Wandering Jew personifies the survival of the Jewish people and thereby denies the Nazis final victory in their program to exterminate the entire nation. But he is not a triumphant figure. He symbolizes the tragedy of a homeless and persecuted people and serves as a reminder of the tortured relationship between Christians and Jews over the centuries. Szyk's goal was to give expression to the Bergsonites' demands for a Jewish state, the only means by which the wandering of the Jews could stop. The allusion to the passage from Ezekiel about breathing new life into the bones of the dead thus reinforces the Zionist message.


Introduction
Jewish Artist
Wartime Caricaturist
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