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Hirsch, Zoltán
Kis Ember Nagy Elete,
1942.

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Description

Very rare first edition of this autobiography by a Hungarian Jewish dwarf clown
who was arrested and perished in Auschwitz.

A moving and rare copy inscribed and signed by the author.


 

Hirsch, Zoltán. Kis Ember Nagy Elete – Önéletrajz. [The Great Life of a Small Man – An Autobiography].
1942.

In-8 de 159 pp.
Original gilt-titled patterned boards, Hungarian text, photographic illustrated plates.

180 x 127 mm.

Very rare first edition.

The great Life of a Small Man, an autobiography by circus clown, comedian, acrobat Zoltán Hirsch, stage-name Zoli, the Clown was self-published in 1942, when the 57 years-old artist-author was expelled from his workplace Fenyes Circus due to the anti-Jewish decrees imposed in Hungary that strictly limited the number of Jewish workforce employable in white collar professions as doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists or performing artists.

Zoltán Hirsch (1885-1944), popularly known as “Zoli” issued this book (and personally sold copies of it in the streets of Budapest) after he was expelled from the Fényes Circus due to the anti-Jewish decrees imposed in Hungary that strictly limited the number of Jews permitted in the workforce.

The anti-Semitic rules affected numerous doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists and it affected Zoli, a circus performer, born a dwarf, who become tremendously popular throughout Hungary.

Zoli was arrested for illegal book-peddling and for wearing a yellow star that did not comply with Nazi requirements on the grounds of being too small. His witty defense that the badge was proportionate to his size was rejected by the authorities. Zoli was imprisoned and deported to perish in Auschwitz.

« Le clown acrobate, Zoltán Hirsch, connu sous le nom de scène Zoli Hirsch, était un Juif hongrois et une personne de petite taille, qui se produisait dans des spectacles de cirque et des vaudevilles. En 1942, cet artiste reconnu dans le monde entier, publie son autobiographie intitulée La grande vie d’un petit homme-artiste. Au cours de l’année 1943, les autorités hongroises font passer une série de décrets antisémites parmi lesquels certains limitent l’emploi des Juifs dans les professions artistiques. Il s’ensuit pour Hirsch une éviction du cirque hongrois Fényes. Hirsch tente de survivre par le colportage de livres, mais il est arrêté pour cette pratique et sous prétexte qu’il porte une étoile jaune trop petite. Il est emprisonné et transporté vers le camp de concentration d’Auschwitz-Birkenau. Il ne survivra pas au camp. Il est conduit à la chambre à gaz où il périt en 1944. Dans les années 1970, cet immense artiste a été immortalisé par le Roli Zoli, un jouet mécanique représentant un clown en fer-blanc sur une moto rouge » (Annick Asso).

Sources: Kérchy, Anna: From Showbiz To The Concentration Camp: The Fabulous, Freakish Life Of Hungarian Jewish “Dwarf “Performers, Zoli Hirsch And The Ovitz Family, in Kérchy, Anna and Zittlau, Andrea:  Exploring the cultural History of Continental European Freak Shows and Enfreakment, Cambridge 2012, p. 211-232.; Koren,Yehuda and Negev, Eliat; In Our Hearts We Were Giants. The remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe – A Dwarf Family’s Survival of the Holocaust, New York 2004.

Roli Zoli. Mechanical toy representing a tin clown on a red motorcycle. Along with original box. (Hungary, 1970’s).

Inscribed by the Author in Hungarian: “With true love from Zoli. 26th Aug. 1943.”

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