The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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8 February 1933

Letter from the Ullstein publishing house to Georg Hermann

"Dear Georg Hermann – I am returning the synopsis of the Rosenemil novel. As I previously mentioned, much to our regret, we cannot offer you a preliminary contract." These two lines signal the end of the collaboration between the great Berlin novelist and the Ullstein publishing house. At the time, Georg Hermann (1871–1943) had written more than twenty novels, including the famous Jettchen Gebert, the tragic story of a Jewish woman living in Berlin during the Biedermeier period. This book and its sequel, Henriette Jacoby, went through more than two hundred editions.

After the Nazis came to power on 30 January 1933, the politically liberal Georg Herman realized the immediate danger he faced. Not only was his future career as a writer in Germany in jeopardy. Two years earlier, the National Socialist Völkischer Beobachter had agitated against him, and he had also received threats on his life. In mid-March 1933, he fled to the Netherlands together with two of his daughters and his ex-wife. On 10 May 1933, his books were burned publicly at Opernplatz in Berlin.

The Ullstein publishing house faced a similarly bleak future. It had been founded in 1877 by Leopold Ullstein and was now run by his five sons. In the spring of 1934 the family was forced to sell their stake in the business well below its market value. Three years later, the publisher was renamed Deutscher Verlag (German Publishing House) and the Ullstein name disappeared from almost all its publications.

Rosenemil, a Berlin novel set in the year 1903, tells the story of a vendor of dime novels who becomes a small-time crook. Georg Hermann completed the novel in Dutch exile. In 1935 the book—his second to last—was published in German by the Amsterdam-based Allert de Lange publishing company.


Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): artists and writers | Berlin | book burning
Letter from the Ullstein publishing house to Georg Hermann, Berlin, 8 February 1933
Leo Baeck Institute, Georg Hermann Collection, AR 7074