provides portraits of every writer on a list compiled by the librarian Wolfgang Herrmann who drew up his list of books by 131 writers of “un-German spirit” for removal from public libraries. It was the student organisation Deutsche Studentenschaft that organised the book burnings around Germany, using the list to select the titles. The writers in question were communists, Jews, anti-militarists and feminists – in a few cases all of the above. The book burning had different consequences for many of them. There were those who went into exile, many of them dying far from home, those who resorted to “inner emigration” of varying degrees of hypocrisy – and some who adapted to the regime, openly writing propaganda for the Nazis. Many of them are still household names in a certain kind of household today, while others died in poverty and obscurity. Plenty of names would be familiar to English readers: Klaus Mann, Heinrich Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth. And Weidermann gives us some quirky details on these writers, such as the letters exchanged between Zweig and Roth and Heinrich Mann’s fading optimism in the USA.
It seems appropriate to end with this link to a marvellous table listing about 150 novels in the German language which Guardian readers recommended for a World Literature Tour, The equivalent French list is here.