Marthe Rajchman (1910-1964) was a graphic designer and cartographer who prepared hundreds of visually striking maps for internationalist and socialist writers and journalists in Europe, Latin America and the United States through the interwar years. The daughter of Ludwik Rajchman, the Polish physician and founding director of UNICEF, Marthe studied at the International School in Geneva, where she was influenced by Paul Dupuy, and the Sorbonne in Paris, where she worked alongside experimental cartographer Jacques Bertin. Throughout her remarkable peripatetic life in southern Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Iran, the USA, and Greece, Rajchman prepared atlases on Europe, China and the ‘far east’, and the global conflict of World War Two in collaboration with her father and, among others, JMD Pringle, the Scottish-born Australian journalist, and Edgar Ansel Mowrer, the Pulitzer-prize winning American journalist.
Rajchman’s experimental black-and-white maps for Sándor Radó’s Atlas of To-day and To-morrow, published in London in 1938 by the socialist editor Victor Gollancz, extended themes explored in Radó’s earlier work on the dangers of fascism and imperialism, using a cartographic style that bears comparison with the radical left-wing maps devised at the same time by the British journalist, artist and educationalist JF Horrabin.
Rajchman prepared the maps for the British journalist Shiela Grant Duff’s Europe and the Czechs, published in London by Penguin in 1938. This remarkable volume, written in a matter of days, was a doomed attempt to warn of dangers of appeasing Nazi Germany and abandoning Czechoslovakia. Distributed free to all British parliamentarians on the day Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich proclaiming ‘peace for our time’, Europe and the Czechs was initially vilified but subsequently became a huge best-seller.