Richard Hollis on Jan Tschichold

“After Hitler became chancellor, designers had to register with the culture ministry. Indexes of art books can be found with the note: ‘Jews are identified by an asterisk.’ Permission to work was refused on political or racial grounds. All radicals were at risk. At best, their livelihoods were taken away. ‘Protective custody’ was arranged for anyone who had links with progressive movements. The typographer Jan Tschichold had a visit from the storm troopers while he was away lecturing. They asked his wife to ‘open’ a Mondrian painting on the wall, mistaking it for the front of a safe. More dangerously, they found incriminating collages by Russian Constructivists. Rather than wait for the party thugs, Tschichold surrendered himself to the police.

After six weeks a policeman helped him get a passport so that he could leave for Switzerland. (Ten years later, Tschichold was in charge of the design of Penguin Books in London.) In a letter to Tschichold’s publisher, the Gestapo wrote that, ‘for the protection of the German people’, all copies of one of the books he co-edited were to be confiscated. ‘In its general design and in its exclusive use of lowercase letters and the type of illustration, Photo-Eye exhibits a subversive tendency incompatible with the aspirations of the Nationalist Socialist state.’

You could not avoid the politics. Tschichold had been alarmed to find that the majority of his students at the Munich printing school began appearing in Nazi uniform. The staff in arts schools and museums were being replaced.”

— Richard Hollis (via About Graphic Design)