Authors who fled Germany and France following the rise of National Socialism often found themselves stranded abroad without publishers, writing in a language foreign to their host countries. The 2009 exhibit “Publishing in Exile,” a joint project of the Goethe-Institut New York and the Leo Baeck Institute, brought together literary works published by these German-speaking exile publishers in the United States during the Third Reich.

German-language publishers who fled intellectual persecution in the 1930s shared a mission. They sought to amplify the voices of émigré writers who, lacking a permanent address and secure political status, carried offshoots of German and Austrian culture to other climates. These writers were deeply imaginative, inventing ways to summon up the past, critique the fascism of the present, and experiment with different futures. Yet writers of fiction and poetry were often unable to support themselves in foreign lands. Their survival depended on the publishers who brought their writing to light.

At least two exiles lay before publishers of this verbotene (forbidden) and unerwünschte (undesirable) literature. First, after 1933 they fled to other European countries, where, within a few years, the freedom to print and circulate books came under threat once again. Then many heads of presses escaped to the U.S., enduring hardships that did not end with their arrival. Most came to New York, where they surmounted extreme difficulties of language and an indifferent book industry to publish again.

More than 200 literary texts appeared in German during the American period, which peaked between 1942 and 1947. More than half of these were new works brought out by courageous publishers in exile. This online exhibition features the five most prominent publishers who issued German-language literary texts in the United States between 1940 and 1950.


L. B. Fischer Corp.