Untraced World War II Propaganda Poster by A Jewish Prisoner of War Who Miraculously Made it to America
Original highly aesthetic and allegorical silkscreen poster contrasting the difference between the US and Nazi-occupied Europe. The suggestive nature of this poster is simple: that Americans have the choice between a plentiful America, with liberties defended by the federal government, and Europe, with Nazi tentacles stretching over the continent.
This poster was designed by René Golschmann, a French Jewish citizen who was captured by the Nazi army during the Battle of France and interned in a Stalag concentration camp. His family's connection and his non-Jewish-sounding name allowed him to be released from custody and escape to the US.
The use of comparative cartography on this war bonds poster makes it an exceptional example of the genre.
Golschmann was born to a poor Russian family who escaped to Paris during the 1890s pogroms. His three siblings proved immensely successful, with his older brother Vladimir becoming a friend of Pablo Picasso and the conductor for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra between 1927 and 1954. René was a pearl trader.
Following the onset of World War II, René was drafted into the French army, despite the birth of his second child which would have granted him a deferral. However, he managed to get his family onto a ship bound for the US in June of 1940, where they successfully escaped. However, US authorities attempted to deport the immigrants due to the nation's nationalistic tendencies. They were only saved from near-certain death due to Vladimir's connections.
Back in France, René's unit was captured by German forces. His non-Jewish-sounding last name saved him, and he was sent to a Stalag prisoner of war camp. His previous exemption for having a child allowed him to be one of the first prisoners traded during the war, and he only spent nine months imprisoned. However, these months were spent in brutal conditions, with very little food. His cellmate perished having eaten shoe polish to satiate his hunger.
Back in France, René immediately fled for Portugal, where his brother managed to obtain for him an emergency visa. He boarded a typhus- and diphtheria-ridden ship bound for New York with over a thousand other Jewish refugees. His other siblings did not escape. One brother went underground to join the maquis, which he fought with until the end of the war. Vladimir was not able to obtain a visa for the final brother's wife, so they stayed in France. The couple would perish at Bergen-Bergen.
Arrived in New York, René would become an accountant for a former client of his. He joined the local YMCA to learn English, metalsmithing, and silk-screening. This final technique would be put to good use with the presented map.
This poster is from the Golschmann family collection.
We have been unable to trace any additional examples of this poster through searches including the OCLC and RBH databases.