German Exile Literature

The Leo Baeck Institute Library has a substantial collection of Exilliteratur (German exile literature). Exilliteratur is a category of German-language books written and published by anti-Nazi dissidents, many of Jewish origin, who fled persecution from Germany after the Nazi Party came to power in 1933 and from Austria after the “Anschluss” in 1938. Authors and publishers often went through at least two stages of exile. Between 1933 and 1939, several European cities, including Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Zürich, Prague, Moscow, as well as cities in the United States and Latin America e.g. in New York and Mexico became centers of German exile writers and publishers. Most of the European cities were later occupied by Nazi-Germany, which, at best, resulted in a second emigration wave to the United States or a life in the “underground.” These exile publishers and authors served the cultural needs of the scattered exile German-language communities, while their books were also brought into Nazi-Germany and Austria as underground literature.

Many of the German-speaking authors in exile were Jews who fled racial persecution in Germany and occupied countries, but the ranks of exile authors included many whose political or aesthetic positions made them a target of the Nazis. As a group, they include many of the most important German literary voices of the 20th century. The best known Exilliteratur authors include: Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Broch, Max Brod, Alfred Döblin, Lion Feuchtwanger, Bruno Frank, Oskar Maria Graf, Hermann Kesten, Siegfried Kracauer, Emil Ludwig, Erika Mann, Heinrich Mann, Klaus Mann, Thomas Mann, Ludwig Marcuse, Robert Musil, Robert Neumann, Erich Maria Remarque, Joseph Roth, Felix Salten, Anna Seghers, Franz Werfel, Arnold Zweig, and Stefan Zweig.

Some important publishers were the S. Fischer Verlag in Vienna and Stockholm, El Libro Libre in Mexico, Pantheon Books, the L.B. Fischer Publishing Corp., the Pazifische Presse, the Malik Verlag in Prague, later in London, and the Aurora Verlag in New York.

Send questions or comments regarding the LBI collections to lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org.