(Austria, 1926 – Israel, 2010)
Katz was born in Vienna, and in 1938, after the anschluss, fled with his family to Budapest. In 1944 he was interned and deported for forced labor to the Miskolz concentration camp. He managed to escape back to Budapest where he took refuge in the “Glass House”, a building under the aegis of the Swiss legation that served Jewish rescue organizations.
After the war he joined the HaShomer Hatzair movement, and attempted to immigrate to the Land of Israel. However, the illegal immigration ship Knesset Israel, was intercepted by the British, and he was deported to Cyprus. Eventually he immigrated in 1947, and was among the founders of Kibbutz Ga’aton.
His artworks have been exhibited in Israel and internationally. He has illustrated many books for children and adults, including “Dira Lehaskir” (Apartment for Rent) by Lea Goldberg and “Hasamba” by Yigal Mossinsohn. His caricatures were published in the Al Hamishmar and Ma’ariv newspapers. In 2007 the Israeli Cartoon Museum awarded Katz the first annual “Golden Pencil” Lifetime Achievement Award.
Children’s literature and illustration
The children’s and youth literature especially beloved by generations of Israelis was written and illustrated by Holocaust survivor authors and artists. Henryk Hechtkopf illustrated T’munot M’saprot (Pictures Tell) for toddlers, Alona Frankel weaned Israel children from their diapers with her story Sir haSirim (Once Upon a Potty) and Paul Kor enthralled them with his series Kaspion. Already in his early days as an immigrant Shmuel Katz illustrated Lea Goldberg’s Dira leHaskir (Apartment for Rent) and Yigal Mossinson's first Hasamba books, whose Israeli characters became the objects of adulation for generations of children and teens. Uri Orlev took upon himself a special role, that of unfolding the annals of the Holocaust in his stories for children and youths; his stories are based on his own experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto while a youth.
Placards and posters were important propaganda and advertising tools during the state’s formative years. The designers, who brought with them the modern European approach to design, enlisted to “translate” the Hebrew letters, left intact for hundreds of years, to their modern forms. The illustrative drawings that characterized the posters and trademarks of the 1950 and 1960s, eventually gave way to more abstract and succinct expressions. These trademarks and symbols of commercial firms and institutions accompany us yet today and form an integral part of the Israeli psyche.
Illustrations of the Eichman Trial
The Eichmann trial was a turning point in the manner that Israeli society related to Holocaust survivors. Among the large audience that completely filled the chambers of Beit Ha’am, Jerusalem, where the emotionally charged testimonies of survivors were heard, were also some artists, who captured in drawing the events in the courtroom. The drawings of these artists, themselves Holocaust survivors, are testimony to their confrontation with their own past and with the fact that as Israelis they had become the bearers of judgment on Eichmann. The presence of so many artists in the chambers was an expression of the ferment into which the entire nation entered on hearing the horrifying testimonies.
Two circles of caricaturists operated in Israel during its first half-century. The first, publicists, were those who published daily or weekly caricatures in the popular press, which attained the status of leading editorials. Concurrently, other talented caricaturists were active in the confined circle of the kibbutz population. The names of these latter caricaturists are less known among the general public, but are loved and recognized by the “kibbutznikim”. Both the former and the latter depicted both daily life in Israel as well as Israeli politics with a well-honed pen. The proportion of Holocaust survivors active in this field from the 1960 through to this very day is substantial.