I am reading the Penguin Edition of Impatience of the Heart by Stefan Zweig - also known as Beware of Pity in other translations. The reverse of the title page states that the book was first published in "Germany as Ungeduld des Herzens by S Fischer Verlag 1939". Why would one of Germany's leading publishers be publishing a novel by one of Europe's leading Jewish writers in 1939? There's nothing in the book itself to explain this apparent anomaly.


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Samuel Fischer, who founded the S. Fischer Verlag in 1886 was also Jewish. After his death in 1934, his son-in-law Gottfried Bermann Fischer took over management of the publishing house, but in 1936 he left Germany with Samuel Fischer's widow. They first went to Vienna, taking part of the catalogue with them, and there continued publishing under the name "Bermann-Fischer Verlag". After the Anschluss in March 1938 he fled Austria and eventually ended up in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, where he continued the publishing house. This is where Stefan Zweig's Ungeduld des Herzens was published in 1939. Thomas Mann's novel Lotte in Weimar was also published there in the same year; the German Wikipedia article about the novel shows the book's original cover, which says, "Bermann Fischer Verlag. Stockholm".

Meanwhile, Peter Suhrkamp continued the original publishing house in Frankfurt am Main, but was forced to rename it to "Suhrkamp Verlag, ehem. S. Fischer" ("Suhrkamp publishing house, formerly S. Fischer") [Saur, page 9]. Suhrkamp kept the business going, even though it cost him time in concentration camps. After World War II, Gottfried Bermann Fischer returned to Germany and wanted to resume his management of the publishing house. Suhrkamp refused, and after long negotiations, Fischer and Suhrkamp decided to let the authors decide: they wrote to the authors whose works they had published, explained the situation to them and asked whether in future they wanted to have their works published by Fischer or by Suhrkamp. Thomas Mann and Carl Zuckmayer were two of the most prominent authors who chose S. Fischer, whereas Hermann Hesse and Bertolt Brecht preferred Suhrkamp. [Saur, page 9-10] Stefan Zweig had died in 1942, so he was never confronted with this choice.

Source (besides the German Wikipedia):

  • Saur, Klaus G. (ed.): Verlage im „Dritten Reich“. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2013.
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    That's interesting that the English translation should claim the book was originally published in Germany, then. It would make sense if it said in German rather than Germany ...
    – verbose
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 4:31
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    @verbose Technically, in 1939, Austria was part of Germany. According to Wikipedia, "The Anschluss [...] refers to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938."
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 20:46
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    Except the answer says the book was published in Stockholm, which is in Sweden.
    – verbose
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 20:47
  • So presumably, these books weren't in fact available in Germany/Austria at that time?
    – Strawberry
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 13:24
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    @Strawberry Stefan Zweig was one of many authors whose works could not be sold in Nazi Germany.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 13:36

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