United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Action - Not Pity The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk
" The
Jewish artist belongs to the Jewish people,...

Examine this artwork
Satan Leads the Ball, 1942; Detail

Jewish Artist
Wartime Caricaturist
Action - Not Pity
Jewish Artist

...and it is his mission to enhance the prestige of the Jews in the world...

... His task is to reveal to the world our great art treasures, to acquaint it with our glorious past as well as
with our
tragic present."

- Arthur Szyk, 1944
Artist Arthur Szyk (1894–1951) earned an international reputation during his lifetime for his richly detailed illustrations and illuminations of Jewish themes. Szyk was a skillful caricaturist and a passionate crusader for political causes. From his early childhood in the Polish city of Lodz until his death in New Canaan, Connecticut, he drew inspiration from the history of his people. Szyk found strength in biblical stories of Jewish bravery and martyrdom, and in more modern examples of courage.

During World War II, Szyk (pronounced “Shick”) devoted his energies to defeating Nazi Germany and its allies and calling the world’s attention to the mass murder of Europe’s Jews. His incisive wartime cartoons and caricatures filled the pages of American newspapers and magazines, earning him a reputation as a “one-man army” in the Allied cause. His moving portrayals of Jewish suffering and heroism bespoke a political activism that demanded “action—not pity.” By 1943, Arthur Szyk had become perhaps America’s leading artistic advocate for Jewish rescue from Nazi Europe. His images appeared in leading magazines and newspapers such as Collier’s, Esquire, Time, Look, Liberty, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun. During the darkest periods of the war, Szyk’s images reached millions of Americans, helping to boost morale by unmasking the threat that Nazism posed to Western civilization.

Jewish Artist
Wartime Caricaturist
Action - Not Pity
Szyk resources
Jewish Artist

Arthur Szyk
[USHMM #N07545/Joseph and Alexandra Braciejowski]
Arthur Szyk.
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