Poster »The Survivors«, 1923

Crayon and brush lithograph with scratch technique (transfer), Kn 197 II b

Käthe Kollwitz, Poster »The Survivors«, before August 1923, crayon and brush lithograph with scratch technique (transfer), Kn 197 II b, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

In 1922 Käthe Kollwitz received a commission from the International Trade Union Confederation for a poster for the first international anti-war day in 1924. In a letter to her friend Beate Bonus-Jeep, the artist commented on this work for which she initially planned to use the theme of the penultimate sheet of the »War« series (»Mothers«).

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They [the Trade Union Confederation] become aware of any new terrible danger of war and want to launch a counter-propaganda programme. Large posters illuminating the consequences of war are to be distributed in 14 European countries. […] You may imagine how deeply involved I have become. My initial plan was this: Women protecting their children, huddling together to form a black lump on the large white poster sheet – like animals defending their brood. But the people in Amsterdam insist on a design that shows the survivors, so this is what I am going to do. Parents, widows, blind people, surrounded by children with their anxiously quizzical, puzzled eyes and pale faces.«
Käthe Kollwitz, in: Beate Bonus Jeep, Sixty Years of Friendship with Käthe Kollwitz

The poster was published in several languages, like in the Danish version shown here.

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