This is a poster advertising travel from Israel to Paris via Italy on the SS Theodor Herzl, a luxury liner owned by the Zim company. The poster, designed by Otte Wallish, has a black background with two diagonal stripes, each with the design of a flag. The upper flag is the flag of Israel and the lower flag is the flag of France. Between the two flags is a picture of a cruise ship. The caption advertises cruises on the modern, luxury liner, the SS Theodor Herzl. The ship is named to honour the Zionist visionary, Theodor Herzl, and also, perhaps, to remember the illegal immigration ship of the same name. The text on the bottom of the poster identifies the sponsor of the advertisement as Zim, Israel’s shipping company. To the left of its name is the company’s flag, which has seven gold stars on a white background between two horizontal blue stripes. The Zim flag is based on Theodor Herzl’s original design for the emblem of the future State of Israel: the stars come from Herzl’s 1896 design, while the stripes represent the actual Israeli flag. The SS Theodor Herzl was built in 1957 and was used for passenger travel in the Mediterranean until the end of the 1960s when air travel became the preferred mode of transportation. The ship was sold to the Carnival cruise line in 1969 and sank in 1991 after catching on fire while undergoing renovations.
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Zim Line – The Zim Palestine Navigation Co. was founded in 1945 by the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut, and the Israel Maritime League. Initially, Zim carried immigrants fleeing Europe for pre-State Israel. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Zim was Israel’s only maritime connection, and, in addition to carrying immigrants, it also transported food, freight, and military equipment. Between 1954 and 1961 35 new ships were built in West Germany and paid for by the Reparation Payments Agreement, an agreement between West Germany and Israel whereby West Germany would pay Israel for the costs of “resettling so great a number of uprooted and destitute Jewish refugees” after the war. Many of the ships were used to transport Holocaust survivors. Newer ships, such as the SS Theodor Herzl bought in 1957, were used solely for luxury voyages. By the late 1960s, with the the introduction of the Boeing 747 and the rise in air travel, travel by passenger ships began to decrease and Zim began selling its passenger ships to cruise companies. The last of the company’s passenger vessels, the SS Theodor Herzl, completed her final voyage for Zim on November 27, 1969 and was sold to Carnival cruises. In 1991, while undergoing renovations, the Theodor Herzl caught fire and sank. In 1999, Zim was sold to a private company and runs a cargo shipping business to this day.
Otte Wallish – The designer Otte Wallish is is considered the first Hebrew graphic designer and is known particularly for his calligraphy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, the first logos of Israeli manufacturers Tnuva and Osem, and Israel’s first postage stamps.
German Reparations – At the very end of World War II, Chaim Weizmann, on behalf of the Jewish Agency, submitted a request to the Allied forces for monetary reparations from Germany for its involvement in the Holocaust. In 1951 Israel’s foreign minister, Moshe Sharett, again submitted a request for reparations on the behalf of the State of Israel. West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer replied that his country was ready to come to an agreement with Israel and the Jewish people. A debate in the Knesset and the entire country broke out over the question of whether or not to accept reparations from Germany, and Menachem Begin, the leader of the Herut party, was a fierce opponent. In 1953 an agreement was ratified, and West Germany agreed to pay $845 million to Israel and individual Holocaust survivors. Much of the money to Israel was paid in goods such as ships and other German products. Further payments were agreed on after the reunification of East and West Germany and additional lawsuits by survivors.
Theodor Herzl – Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl (1860–1904) was the visionary behind modern Zionism. Zionism was a political movement with the goal of re-establishing a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael. Herzl, born in Budapest, was a journalist and playwright. He was very affected by the events surrounding the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in France in 1894, which he covered as a journalist. Witnessing the anti-Semitism around the Dreyfus affair, which included a mob yelling “Death to the Jews,” Herzl became convinced of the need for a Jewish state. In 1896 Herzl wrote The Jewish State (Der Judenstaat), and the following year he convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, with the aim to begin creating a modern, secular Jewish state. Herzl proposed that Jews around the world raised money for the Jewish State. The delegates of the First Zionist Congress adopted the Basel Program and declared that: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.” The World Zionist Organization was formed as the political arm of the Jewish people, and Herzl was elected its first president. Herzl convened six Zionist congresses between 1897 and 1903. At the Sixth Zionist Congress in 1903, Herzl proposed the Uganda Plan which stated that a temporary Jewish State would be created in Uganda for Jews in immediate danger. Although Herzl stated that the Uganda Plan would not replace the goal of creating a state in the Land of Israel, the idea was very controversial and nearly split the Zionist movement. After Herzl’s death, his Uganda Plan was officially rejected at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. Herzl died in 1904 in Vienna where he was buried. In 1949 he was reinterred on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.