Albert Hahn grew up in a poor workers' family. A government grant allowed him to attend an academy of applied arts, first in Groningen, later in Amsterdam. Like many young artists in these years, Hahn came to see strong connections between artistic and political renewal. He became member of the Social Democratic Workers' Party, and tried to give his art social significance.
In 1902 the social democratic party started an illustrated satirical weekly, the Zondagsblad (Sunday magazine). Hahn became its principal draughtsman, publishing thousands of cartoons. These illustrations raised the Dutch political cartoon to a new level, combining aggressive political messages with balanced composition and refined decoration. Hahn became a national celebrity, hated or feared by his opponents, revered by the socialist rank and file. His symbols and his style of drawing became examples for a whole school of younger political cartoonists in the Netherlands.
Besides drawing his socialist cartoons, Hahn also contributed illustrations to general magazines, designed posters, banners, and book jackets and wrote articles on the relations between art, design, socialism and society. His untimely death in 1918 from tuberculosis, just weeks before the end of World War I, was seen as a great loss by many. Even Hahn's opponents in the end recognized his qualities and his sincerity.