Not only were the Nazis a murderous bunch they also stole and destroyed art , and denied the German people the right to read some of the most classic books.
JRR Tolkien’s ‘the Hobbit’ was one of those books. However the book probably could have been published,if Tolkien would have neglected his principles, but such was the character of the man that he didn’t.
When he was in negotiation with the Berlin based publishing house Rütten & Loening, to get the Hobbit released in German in 1938. When he was asked to verify his Aryan heritage he send the following written statement to the publishers.
“Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects.
But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.
My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject – which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.
Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.”
He also referred to Adolf Hitler as a “ruddy little ignoramus.” in a letter to his son in 1941.
He could have potentially earned millions if he had published his book in German, but he chose to keep his integrity and dignity. The Hobbit did get published in Germany after the war.
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The Tolkien Gateway
Special thank you to Norman Stone for pointing out the story to me
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