Berlin Press Astonished at Detention of German Jewish Dramatist
Menu JTA Search

Berlin Press Astonished at Detention of German Jewish Dramatist

Download PDF for this date

The press here expresses astonishment at the detention yesterday by the United States immigration authorities of Ernst Toller, German Jewish dramatist, on his arrival on the steamer “Reliance” in New York, notwithstanding the fact that his passport was vised by the American Consul at Berlin.

Herr Toller was invited by the New York Theatre Guild, which is contemplating producing one of his plays. He had also intended to lecture on international labor questions.

Herr Toller was permitted to land today after a hearing at 11.00 this morning by a special Board of Inquiry at Ellis Island.

Herr Toller was dumfounded when he learned that he could not land. “Why should I be barred when, in England. I have been invited to lecture at Oxford, and Italy has welcomed me?” he asked. “Why not America? I am not a Communist,” he said. “I am not interested in politics-belong to no party. I am an independent artist and come here as such.

“In youth all men, if they have any brains, are radical. Ten years ago I was but a youth. I was a revolutionist. Your own President Wilson told us to revolt.”

For taking part in the German revolution Toller was arrested in June 1919 and sentenced to five years in military prison. In 1923 a widespread movement was begun for his release from prison, Thomas Mann, Karl Hauptmann and K. E. Richter joining in the petitions.

Richter, writing at that time, told of his discharge from the army in 1917 because of illness, his resumption of studies at Heidelberg, his discharge from the university because of his radical utterances and his subsequent activities in connection with the Peasants and Soldiers’ Council in Munich.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund