The World of Aufbau: Hitler’s Refugees in America

Peter Schrag. Univ. of Wisconsin, $39.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-299-32020-1
Journalist Schrag (Not Fit for Our Society) brings to light the history of the German-language weekly newspaper Aufbau (“reconstruction”), a beacon for German-speaking Jewish refugees in America starting in 1934. During the Nazi years and beyond, its contributors included such notable thinkers and writers as Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Thomas Mann, and Paul Tillich. Schrag argues that the paper encouraged its readers to “hold true to Jewish belief” while also standing for “a whole-hearted commitment to Americanization and an ongoing attachment to the... enlightenment of pre-Hitler Germany and/or a broader European cosmopolitanism.” Schrag notes how the refugees’ pleas for their relatives in Europe (as in Aufbau’s “Looking For” column) usually fell on deaf ears, in part because of the work of such isolationists and anti-Semites as Charles Lindbergh and Father Charles Coughlin, though the refugees also enjoyed the support of such sympathizers as Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR’s secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes. This account is at times a little anecdotally thin, particularly when it comes to Aufbau’s longtime editor, Manfred George, and his successor, Hans Steinitz. But this in-depth look at the refugees’ sometimes brilliant, sometimes painful attempts to adapt to American life while—at least during the Holocaust—keeping one eye firmly fixed on Europe is a valuable addition to American and Jewish history. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/12/2019
Release date: 03/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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