Communazis by Professor Alexander Stephan
FBI Surveillance of German Emigre Writers

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Professor Alexander Stephan

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Alexander Stephan is professor of German at the University of Florida.
 
Published September 10, 2000 by Yale University Press. 384 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Travel, War, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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During the 1930s, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and scores of other German writers fled the Nazi regime to settle in the United States.

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