Heinz Schwerin was born on 4 February 1910 in Kattowitz (then in Upper Silesia, now Katowice in Poland). Following his school-leaving exams and an apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker, he enrolled at the Bauhaus in Dessau as a 21-year-old in the summer semester of 1931. He studied in the architecture and interior design workshop for two semesters and served as a student representative. He also met his future wife, Ricarda Meltzer, at the college. As a confessed Communist and committed member of the Communist student group at the Bauhaus, Schwerin was expelled along with the other members of the group following a scandal and was refused a diploma.
Schwerin moved to Frankfurt am Main with Ricarda Meltzer and studied at the College of Fine Art and Applied Art there. He was briefly arrested for distributing Communist leaflets, but was able to escape and fled to Prague with Meltzer. In 1933, Schwerin and Meltzer opened the advertising agency Hammer und Pinsel (Hammer and Brush) in the Czech capital. They emigrated from there to Switzerland and then to Hungary, where they were married in Pécs on 25 May 1935; the former Bauhaus students Etel Fodor-Mittag and Ernst Mittag were their marriage witnesses. The Schwerins emigrated to Palestine as refugees the same year.
They started to produce wooden toys in Jerusalem in their workshop, Schwerin Wooden Toys. In 1937, the Schwerins attracted attention in the contemporary press as ‘pioneers of the wooden toy in Palestine’, and some of their work was shown at the Paris World Exhibition in 1937.
Their daughter Jutta was born in Jerusalem in 1941 and their son Tom seven years later. On 31 January 1948, Heinz Schwerin suffered an accident while serving with Hagana (‘Defence’, the forerunner of the Israeli Army) during Israel’s war of independence and he died of his injuries on 3 February. [AG 2015]
· Ausstellung „Vom Bauhaus nach Palästina: Chanan Frenkel – Ricarda und Heinz Schwerin“, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Meisterhaus Muche/Schlemmer, 26. Juni bis 13. Oktober 2013.
· Udi Katzmann (2011): Wege ins Gelobte Land, Bauhaus: Die Zeitschrift der Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Heft 2.
· Jutta Schwerin (2012): Ricardas Tochter, Leipzig.
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