Ek, Sandor (Ék, Sándor)
Born August 27, 1902, Michelsdorf in der Schütt, Austro Hungarian Empire (today, Michal na Ostrove, Slovakia); died January 21, 1975, Budapest, Hungary
Sandor Ek was born Alex Keil in a small village in the Austro Hungarian Empire. He worked as a graphic artist and poster designer in his native Hungary but also worked and lived in Austria, Germany and in the Soviet Union during periods of his life. Early-on, Ek became a member of the Hungarian Communist Party at a young age. He studied at arts schools run by Béla Uitz, a Hungarian painter and communist activist, and by József Nemes-Lampérth, a Hungarian artist and proponent of the avant-garde.
In 1919, Sandor Ek immigrated to Vienna, Austria and in 1921, he participated in the “Young Worker’s International” in Moscow. He went on to study at VkHUTEMAS (State Art and Technical School). He later returned to Budapest, where he was subsequently arrested. In the mid-1920s, he moved to Germany and worked for the leftist publications “Rote Fahne” [Red Flag] and “Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung” [The Workers Illustrated Newspaper]. Due to the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany, Ek moved to the Soviet Union in 1933.
During World War II, he joined the Red Army of the USSR. Back in war-torn Hungary, Ek photographed post-war exhumations of mass graves of citizens -- deaths carried out by German and Hungarian soldiers. After the Soviet occupation of Hungary in 1944, Ek was designing posters with anti-Nazi themes.
Ever the loyal communist, during the 1956 Hungarian Uprising (an anti-communist revolution lasting for several months), Ek was "eager to help put-down the...uprising, which he described as 'an orgy nationalist intoxication'." His support for the communist side got his name placed on a list "of those who were to be destroyed..." in the uprising. He was threatened with violence during the second Soviet intervention (Operation Whirlwind) in Hungary. The revolution terminated when the USSR re-established the socialist Hungarian government.
Sandor Ek spent the remainder of the post-war period in Hungary working as a graphic designer and painter.
Sources & Citations
Aulich, J., Sylvestrová, M. (1999). Political posters in Central and Eastern Europe, 1945-95: Signs of the times. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Phillips, Z. F. (2001). German children's and youth literature in exile: 1933-1950 : biographies and bibliographies. München: Saur.
Hungary 1956 - forty years on. (January 01, 1997). Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, 1-158.