Communazis: FBI Surveillance of German Emigré Writers

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9780300082029: Communazis: FBI Surveillance of German Emigré Writers

Thousands of writers, artists, filmmakers, and intellectuals fled Germany in the 1930s. Many settled in the United States, hoping to find allies against Nazism and a safe refuge from Hitler’s Gestapo. But in America nearly all of the exiled authors among them Nobel Prize recipient Thomas Mann, his brother Heinrich, dramatist Bertolt Brecht, and novelists Erich Remarque and Lion Feuchtwanger became the subjects of intense suspicion and government surveillance. This riveting book, based on secret FBI files released for the first time to Alexander Stephan under the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, reveals the disturbing details and the surprising extent of government surveillance operations conducted against German exiles during World War II and the McCarthy era.

Not only the FBI but also the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and other agencies spied on the German émigrés. Wiretaps were installed, mail was routinely opened and read, records of visitors were maintained. Searches not always with legal warrants were conducted, informants hired, and connections to exile writers established (Thomas Mann’s daughter, Erika, volunteered her insights). Stephan sets these activities in historical context and discusses the widespread xenophobia and paranoia that surrounded Nazism and Communism, which were frequently conflated in the public imagination. The author illuminates the relationship not only between German anti-Nazis and U.S. politics of the period but also between intellectuals and the modern surveillance state.

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About the Author:

Alexander Stephan is professor of German at the University of Florida.

From Publishers Weekly:

During the 1930s, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and scores of other German writers fled the Nazi regime to settle in the United States. Some were awarded posh Hollywood contracts; others just barely made ends meet. Using much archival material, Stephan demonstrates in this remarkable study that J. Edgar Hoover and his henchmen at the FBI spied on virtually all the writers. Why? Because the ?migr?s were suspected of being socialists (largely true), and Hoover, a rabid anti-Communist, was obsessed with flushing out anyone with leftist sympathies. Once WWII broke out, the German writers were faced with the additional burden of living as foreign nationals in an enemy country. The Office of Censorship read all their letters; the FBI kept track of their sexual partners; agents combed their works for hidden anti-American meanings. Stephan, a professor of German history at the University of Florida, jumped through a great many hoops in order to obtain the government files on which his study is based, and he does not avoid sharing these travails with the reader. As a result, parts of his text read like the dryest kind of detective book ("The INS gave me 30 pages"; "A further 90 items were withheld by the FBI"). But this detective work also dishes up some surprises, such as that Thomas Mann's daughter (also the onetime wife of W.H. Auden) was an informant for the FBI. A feature on the front page of the arts section of the New York Times in early September promises serious media attention for this title and, consequently, brisk early sales, despite the dry, research-report tone. Illus.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Stephan, Alexander.
ISBN 10: 0300082029 ISBN 13: 9780300082029
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Buchbeschreibung New Haven : Yale University Press , 2000. Orig. halfcloth binding. Dustjacket. xxi,362 pp. Translation by Jan van Heurck of : Im Visier des FBI : deutsche Exilschriftsteller in den Akten amerikanischer Geheimdienste. - Stuttgart : Metzler, cop. 1995. Condition : very good copy. ISBN 0300082029[KEYWORDS: LITERARY CRITICISM*, intelligence. Artikel-Nr. 191741

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Alexander Stephan
Verlag: Yale Univ Pr (2000)
ISBN 10: 0300082029 ISBN 13: 9780300082029
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Buchbeschreibung Yale Univ Pr, 2000. Gebundene Ausgabe. Buchzustand: Gebraucht. Gebraucht - Gut - Based on FBI files released under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, this riveting book reveals the disturbing details and surprising extent of U.S. government surveillance against German emigr writers, artists, and intellectuals who sought refuge in America after World War II. 26 illustrations. 384 pp. Artikel-Nr. INF3002683969

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