So, there's the famous episode where JRRT, a year after THE HOBBIT was published, angrily repudiated Germany's anti-Semitic laws -- specifically by refusing to make an official statement declaring that he was not Jewish, such a statement being required by his prospective publisher for a German edition, which wd have been the first translation into another language (See LETTERS OF JRRT, page 37, letter of 25 July 1938 for details).
I thought I remembered a different incident in which Unwin made his own opposition to anti-Semitic madness clear. It's years ago now since I read Stanley Unwin's autobiography, THE TRUTH ABOUT A PUBLISHER--the title is a play on Unwin's famous polemic about the publishing business, THE TRUTH ABOUT PUBLISHING--and I couldn't find a specific passage I was looking for.
My memory said that in his autobiography Unwin told the story about foiling Nazi anti-Semitic laws, which forbid anyone of Jewish ancestry from owning a business. To get around this, Unwin bought three or four German publishers for a token price (say, a pound) . Then at the end of the war he returned them to their original owners for the same token price.
Does anyone out there remember this episode? Am I looking in the wrong place for it (i.e., is it in David or Philip Unwin's autobiography instead)?
Although I wasn't successful in finding the anecdote I wanted, I did find a different passage that shows Unwin, to his credit, as having taken an anti-Nazi stance early on (1933), as opposed to others (like Roy Campbell, who was enthusiastically pro-Hitler at that point). Here's the passage:
It was . . . an interesting indication of the mounting
indignation at the Nazi treatment of the Jews when,
in April 1933, I received a discreetly worded letter
from my good friend Dr Gustav Kilpper, the
representative of Germany on the Executive, that,
although it might easily be misconstrued if the
suggestion came from Germany, they felt that,
in view of the tension in the atmosphere, it would
be wise to postpone the Brussels Congress to 1934
. . . It proved, however, too late to do so.
At the Brussels Congress Dr. Kilpper went much
further than such an enlightened man had any
justification in doing in defending the Nazis,
who showed their appreciation by turning him
out of office. Following the Congress he
urged my son and myself to join him on a
holiday on the Eibsee, which under other
circumstances we would gladly have done.
My reply read as follows:
'I very much appreciate your letter of the 11th
July with its kind invitation. But the news that
reaches me this morning of the glorification
of the murderers of my friend Rathenau --
one of the most enlightened and noble-
minded men I have ever met -- makes
it more than ever clear that Germany
under the present regime is no place
for me. That an assassin could be
regarded in 1933 as a hero is incredible.
What are we coming to?
[THE TRUTH ABOUT A PUBLISHER, 1960, p.401-402]
The context of this, for those like me who know less about the Weimar republic than Wikipedia does, is something like this: Unwin, who was the leading British expert on international publishing issues, had played a large role in the revival of the International Publishers' Congress, which had lapsed in 1920 just after the end of The Great War. It held biannual meetings with a rotating host city (starting with Paris 1931).
current reading: Thorne Smith's SKIN & BONES -- a minor late work comprised almost entirely in dialogue.