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book (design) story #20

elisabeth thommen:
blitzfahrt durch sowjetrussland

verlag dr. oprecht & helbling a-g, zürich, 1933, 1933
printer: druckerei-genossenschaft aarau
size: 21 x 15 cm
designer: max bill

Book image

the name of oprecht was an important one in the swiss book publishing world of the 1930s and 40s – especially for left wing and/or exiled writers. while hans oprecht (1894-1978), a leading social-democrat, was president of the büchergilde zürich, his brother emil oprecht (1895-1952) was involved in publishing companies such as the europa verlag and verlag dr. oprecht & helbling. they published books that were decidedly anti-fascist, and – as this brochure shows – rather positive about the soviet union.

swiss journalist and writer elisabeth thommen (1888-1960) describes her impressions from a 19-day-trip to soviet russia. she reports how the new system affects people's everyday live – women's particularly. there are some photographs by acclaimed swiss photographer ernst e. heiniger, some even showing queues in front of shops. thommen notes that the soviet union is not a worker's paradise (yet), but she is very positive about issues like legal abortion and illegal prostitution.

in the early 1930s max bill (1908-1994) designed several book covers/jackets for emil oprecht's companies. although bill's name does not appear on or in this book, its cover design is attributed to him in the catalogue of his graphic work (isbn 3721203410). roman italic is a typeface max bill often used – as usual in lower-case only. the slanted, upwards leading title and the idyllic photos underline the optimism expressed in the book.

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