Since 1884, when Thomas Theodor Heine, the seventeen-year-old son of a respectable Jewish manufacturer from Leipzig, sent several caricatures to the controversial magazine called Leipziger Pikanten Blättern, published by the infamous Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, his life was predetermined. The publication led to his immediate expulsion from school, and the boy was forced to leave his home.
After studying art in Dusseldorf and Munich, the young Heine worked in newspapers as a caricaturist until he cofounded the satirical weekly magazine Simplicissimus in 1895. The magazine publishing sharp satire quickly became very popular in Germany; however, arrests and penalty payments were the flip side of the popularity. But all the scandals only increased sales until the magazine was not threatened with closure.
Heine's caricatures, gloomy, full of ugly and attractive chimeras, and worth being compared with the masterpieces of Goya and Bosch, were a significant part of Simplicissimus' success. There was no lack of ideas in the first decades of the 20th century. Wars, epidemics, famines, and economic crises struck not only Germany, but the whole world. Nowadays, when humanity is thrown into a panic by COVID-19, it is worth remembering that the older generations overcame much more horrific time.
As for Thomas Theodor Heine himself, his life had been tied to Simplicissimus for almost 40 years. And if during World War I the magazine had to stay loyal to the authorities, the situation changed in the early 30s. It was not possible to get on with Nazis, and Heine, who was a Jew, was first forced to emigrate to Czechoslovakia, and then to Norway; and when the Wehrmacht came there, he fled to Sweden. In Sweden, the artist died at the age of 81 in January 1948.