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John L. Isaack

  • Given name:
    John
  • Middle name:
    L.
  • Last name:
    Isaack
  • Alternative names:

    Johannes Isaack

  • Date of Birth:
    12-01-1012
  • Place of Birth:
    Berlin (DE)
  • Date of Death:
    2003
  • Profession:
    ArtistDesigner
  • Introduction:

    John Isaack studied for a year and a half at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin before joining an advertising, stage and fair design company. He arrived in Shanghai in 1939 and found work as a graphic artist at Adcraft an advertising agency before being forced to move into the designated refugee area in Hongkou.

    Word Count: 55

  • Signature Image:
    My Cat, Berlin and Little Sculpture, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 2, Shanghai, 1939–1947, John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
  • Content:

    This archive entry is mainly based on the documents archived in the Harriet and John Isaack Collection, located in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Among the archival documents are private photo albums that contain many photos from the time in Shanghai. These albums are special and precious documents in many ways and include different types of images and motifs – family members, friends, street scenes, architectural and landscape photographs, and some of his artistic work. They complement the written tradition and what is remembered in their own way. A recurring motif are the photos of pets and animals. Of those that had to be left behind, of those that accompanied life in Shanghai and the USA. The frequency, consistency and emphatic captions point to a special significance. While exile research has already thought about animals as association figures and projection surfaces, these pictures also write a history of a direct and mutually supportive and emotional relationship.
    Before his flight to Shanghai, John Isaack worked from 1933 to 1939 at the Jüdischen Kulturbund in Berlin, where he was employed as a stage designer and stagehand. His wife, Harriet (née Bondy), a tailor, also worked there. Together with their families, in an effort to find a way to leave the country, they spent 24 hours queueing in turn outside travel agencies without knowing how they would pay for the passage. Isaack's brother succeeded in securing eight tickets for his family, including Harriet and John Isaack and his father-in-law. With little baggage, they arrived in Shanghai to find the refugee shelter, in a factory building in Hongkou, bombed and partially destroyed. Eventually they moved into an apartment in a typical Shanghainese alleyway house.
    Harriet worked as a waitress while John got a job at Adcraft Studio, a White Russian advertising agency. Among its clients was Bayer Pharma Co. In his written report archived at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he recalled that his job was to write advertisements German and to design the packaging for Bayer’s aspirin. He also designed some covers for Arts and Print, a monthly magazine published by Adcraft, and produced ads for Coca Cola, as well as signs for shops and other businesses.
    After the Japanese military took over the whole of Shanghai and established the so-called Shanghai Ghetto in Hongkou in 1943, John Isaac lost his job.
    Adcraft was located in the French Concession and, lacking a permit to leave the designated area, he was no longer able to travel to work. As the situation and living conditions continued to deteriorate, he was left with no alternative but to work as a camp guard. In December 1946, his work was shown at the YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research) Exhibition at the Jewish School on Seymour Road and then at the Kadoori or SJYA (Shanghai Jewish Youth Association) School. Before he and his wife were able to leave Shanghai, he worked as a civilian employee for the US Army. John and Harriet Isaack emigrated to the United States in 1947.

    Word Count: 499

  • Media:
    John Isaack, drawing urging the authorities to act on behalf of the Jewish refugees in Shanghai, series 2, original artwork, 1946, John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Graphiker Mr. Fischer, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 4, Shanghai and Berlin, 1939–47 (bulk 1946–1947), John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Igor Ossipof. Artist and Coworker at “Adcraft Studio”, Shanghai 1940–1942, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 2, Shanghai, 1939–1947, John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Letter from Good Friends Elly and Fred Singer 1946, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 4, Shanghai and Berlin, 1939–47 (bulk 1946–1947), John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Advertising Design for a Business in English Sector of Shanghai, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 2, Shanghai, 1939–1947, John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Art Work for Magazine Cover, series 4, photographic materials, 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 1, Berlin Shanghai and San Francisco, 1931–1964 (bulk 1945–1948), John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack)
    Broadway Mansion under Japanese Flag, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 3, Shanghai and Berlin, 1931-1964 (bulk 1945–1948), John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Our “Children”, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 4, Shanghai and Berlin, 1939–47 (bulk 1946–1947), John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Shanghai Jail, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 4, Shanghai and Berlin, 1939–47 (bulk 1946–1947), John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Street Scenes, Shanghai Central Jail, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 2, Shanghai, 1939–1947, John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    YIVO Art Exhibit at Shanghai Jewish School, My Exhibit Section, series 4, photographic materials 1931–1964 (bulk 1939–48), photograph album 4, Shanghai and Berlin, 1939–47 (bulk 1946–1947), John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack).
    Advertisement, John Isaack, commercial artist and block designer, Shanghai Echo, 25 September 1946, no. 266, p.10.
    Future, vol. 1, no. 12, January 1948, series 5, printed materials, 1939–1988, Future, 1948, John and Harrier Isaack papers (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John and Harriet Isaack). Published by the Shanghai Jewish Youth Community Center. Cover lettering print by John Isaack, cover print by David Ludwig Bloch. Last issue “our magazine has served as a binding link between those of our members who have gone abroad and those who will remain in Shanghai.”
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Irene Ebner. Jewish Refugees in Shanghai 1933–1947. A Selection of Documents. Archiv jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur. vol. 3, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018.
    Freyeisen, Astrid. Shanghai und die Politik des Dritten Reichs. Königshausen & Neumann 1999.
    Kranzler, David. “Restrictions Against German-Jewish Refugee Immigration to Shanghai in 1939.” Jewish Social Studies, vol. 36, no. 1, 1974, pp. 40–60.
    Pan, Guan. A Study of Jewish Refugees in China (1933–1945). Histories, Theories and the Chinese Pattern. Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press/Springer, 2019.

    Word Count: 70

  • Archives and Sources:

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, John and Harriet Isaack papers.

    Word Count: 11

  • Author:
    Mareike Hetschold
  • Exile:

    Shanghai, China (1939–1947)

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    789/42 Point Road, Hongkou, (now Zhoujiazui Lu, Hongkou Qu) Shanghai

  • Metropolis:
    Shanghai
  • Mareike Hetschold. "John L. Isaack." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2952/object/5138-11786455, last modified: 07-06-2021.
  • Association of Jewish Artists and Fine Art Lovers (ARTA)
    Association

    Seven Jewish artists living in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto joined together to form an art association in 1943. The founding members were: David Ludwig Bloch, Paul Fischer, Fred Fredden Goldberg, Ernst Handl, Max Heimann, Hans Jacoby and Alfred Mark.

    Word Count: 38

    Advertisement, First ARTA Exhibition,Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt, 4 March 1944, vol. 5, no. 9, p. 4. Entrance was free of charge. An entrance ticket authorised the residents of the designated area to leave it in order to get to the exhibition venue at the S.Y.Y.A. School at East Yuhuang Road, which was only a short distance away.
    ARTA, ticket, Hans Jacoby Collection, Box 1, Folder 5 (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).C. H. Gonda, Shanghai Jewish School, drawing, 1931, Seymour Road, Shanghai. Venue of the first ARTA exhibition in 1944.C. H. Gonda, Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., drawing, 1930, Nanking Road, Shanghai. Venue of the second ARTA exhibition in 1944.Jewish School, photograph, 14 January 1931, Seymour Road, Shanghai.Ernst Handl, Self Portrait, drawing, 15 September 1943, Shanghai, Hans Jacoby Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).Advertisement, Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., Shanghai Woche, no. 1, 5 April 1939, p. 4.W. F. (Wolfgang Fischer) “Das Werden der Emigrantenwirtschaft und ihre Pioniere. Fred Fredden-Goldberg – Ein juedischer Maler.“ Shanghai Woche, no. 13, 4 September 1942, p. 4.Catalogue, ARTA 2nd Exhibition, front, Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co., 22–27 May 1944, Shanghai, David Ludwig Bloch Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).Catalogue, ARTA 2nd Exhibition, double page, Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co., 22–27 May 1944, Shanghai, David Ludwig Bloch Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).Catalogue, ARTA 2nd Exhibition, back, Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co., 22–27 May 1944, Shanghai, David Ludwig Bloch Collection (© Leo Baeck Institute, New York).
    Shanghai
    Ivan Kounin
    JournalistPublisher

    A self-driven journalist and a self-funded publisher, Ivan Kounin created several illustrated albums focused on the life of Shanghai’s international community, which highlighted the work of Russian artists.

    Word Count: 29

    Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. Ivan Kounin in the office of Adcraft Studios, photography, Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai, 1940.
    Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. The staff of Adcraft Studios, photography, Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai, 1940.Ivan Kounin, cover print, F. Chaliapine, 1936 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. Advertisement for Adcraft Studios, Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai, 1940.
    Shanghai
    Alexander A. Yaron
    DesignerJournalistArtistPhotographer

    An autodidact and a versatile commercial artist, Alexander Yaron applied his talent in portraiture, photography, interior design, advertising, layout and illustration. His best known projects were illustrated art magazines and books produced as part of Adcraft Studios, in tandem with Ivan Kounin.

    Word Count: 42

    Kounin, Ivan, and Alexander Yaron, editors. The Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Shanghai, 1940. Portrait of Alexander A. Yaron, photography.
    Alexander Yaron, Along the ancient channel, print, Ponedelnik (Monday),1933 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Alexander Yaron, portraits, drawings, Highlights of Art, 1938 (© Natalia Kounin).Alexander Yaron, poster for the Russian Ballet, 1936 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. The double page shows the covers of Adcraft Studios’ magazines, including Highlights of Art, and others.Yaron Studios, advertisement for Central Air Transport Corporation, China Weekly Review, 20 September 1947.
    Shanghai