Thursday, 29 September 2016

World Heart Day!

On the 29th of September we mark 'World Heart Day', held by the World Heart Federation to raise awareness of heart related diseases. 

At the History Centre we thought we would take this opportunity to show some of the highlights from a collection of love letters we hold here, written by a man named Victor Weisz. If you enjoy the blog and want to find out more, the collection reference is U DX165 and you can come and look at the letters in our searchroom. 

Victor Weisz was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1913 to parents of Hungarian Jewish origin. Weisz studied at the Berlin School of Art where his proficiency with a pencil and sketch book were evident. By the age of fifteen he was producing caricatures of great skill, and his work began to appear in various German newspapers.

With the rise of the National Socialism movement in Germany, and the Nazi regime's extreme antisemitism, Weisz adopted a strong anti-Nazi position. Consequently, he left Germany for Britain in 1935, where he remained and would later become a British citizen in 1947.

He continued to work as a political cartoonist in Britain, and his cartoons appeared in a number of newspapers. He built a reputation as an incisive commentator on political events. In 1941, he became a cartoonist at the News Chronicle, and subsequently went on to work at the Daily Mirror, Evening Standard and New Statesman. By the 1940s, he had adopted the pseudonym 'Vicky' and was appointed as the chief political cartoonist for the Daily Mirror in 1954.

He famously portrayed Harold Macmillan as 'Supermac' which, although intended as a slur, actually helped Macmillan increase his majority in 1959. Weisz, however, suffered from depression and insomnia and committed suicide in February 1966.

The 269 letters are a mixture of tender love letters and more general letters about a variety of subjects, sent by Weisz to his wife, Inge. The notes are generally of a personal nature and were often written in response to a note left by Inge for Weisz. Many are simple but heartfelt expressions of his love for Inge. Others are birthday wishes or messages to mark celebrations such as anniversaries, the couple's wedding, and Valentine's Day. Several notes refer to Weisz's health, others are thank you notes sent to Inge following a wonderful evening or weekend. Many contain comments on day-to-day happenings and details such as the weather.

In all of the letters, Weisz includes a cartoon illustrating some detail from the content of the missive. Usually these cartoons are comic depictions of Weisz and/or Inge, sometimes in animal guise. Other cartoons illustrate small details such as the day's weather. The cartoons are so brilliantly drawn and wonderfully amusing that it was difficult to choose just a few to share here. I hope you enjoy the selection.

Verity Minniti, Archives Assistant

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