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The Human Touch

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One of the reproaches against Jews is that their inclinations are for peace rather than war, civilian pursuits rather than military. A Jewish boy who goes out of his way to enlist in the army, like the incorrigible youngster in Melvin Levy’s “The Last Pioneers,” is so much the exception as to be a shame and a scandal until he makes good outside the army.

From Warsaw comes the story of a Jewish youth who sought to enlist in the Polish Army, as a way of proving his patriotism. There are Jews who are Polish patriots; if you don’t think so, listen to Arthur Szyk, the Polish-Jewish artist, descanting on the subject, either in good Yiddish or bad English. Well, this young Jew, who has nothing to do with art or propaganda, offered his services to the Polish Army, through the regular channels, and was turned down. He appealed to the Ministry of War, and was turned down. He went to an even higher authority with his plea to be allowed to serve and was by that authority turned down beyond hope of appeal.

And the reason? Although he has lived in Poland since boyhood, perhaps childhood, he is no Polish citizen and, apparently, can’t become one. He is a staatenlose, a man without a country, one who came into Poland on a League of Nations. (Nansen) passport, perhaps from Russia, perhaps from some other country. When Edward Everett Hale wrote his little book, “The Man Without a Country,” its readers felt that the tragedy of the case was in direct ratio with its rarity. Now that Europe has its tens of thousands of men without countries these cases cease to arouse the sense of pity. And the fact that caps the irony of this situation is that these men without countries had their status created as the result of war fought for a set of purposes one of which was the self-determination of nationalities.

It seems silly to tell a man he can’t serve the country which has given him hospitality because he hasn’t the right piece of paper.


I Have received additional assurances from publishers who have brought out translations of authors proscribed by the Nazi regime to the effect that no royalties obtained from the sale of American editions are sent to Germany, presumably for the account of the author, but in effect, for the aggrandizement of the Third Reich. They have not hesitated, these Nazis, to despoil Einstein and Feuchtwanger, and they would do likewise with the funds of others in their black books.

It was Will Irwin who first threw into our minds the possibility that by buying translations of Feuchtwanger, Mann and others we were making unwilling contributions to the Nazis. For, according to him, the American publisher made his contract usually with the German publisher, to whom royalties earned outside of Germany had to be sent. And when these royalties arrived in Berlin, or Munich, or Leipzig, who would grab them but the same gentlemen who had already confiscated the bank deposits, books, homes and real estate of these same persons, most of them, fortunately, refugees.

It was from The Viking Press I obtained assurance that ever since February, 1933, no sums due to Lion Feuchtwanger had been sent to anyone else but Lion Feuchtwanger. In answer to a subsequent inquiry concerning the American royalties earned by Stefan and Arnold Zweig and Alfred Doeblin I received the “blanket statement” to the effect that “the exiled German authors whose books we publish are receiving the royalties that their books earn. In practically every important instance our contracts are directly with the author.”

In response to my inquiry concerning the royalties of the American editions of Erich Maria Remarque, the Rhineland Catholic who is disliked by the Nazis because he is a pacifist, I received the following reply, from the Boston house of Little, Brown & Company:

“We secured the American rights of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ from the English publisher, who in turn secured them from the German publisher. Our contract for the next book, “The Road Back,’ was made direct with the author.”

In reply to an inquiry concerning the works of Emil Ludwig, the same publisher writes: “All our contracts for Ludwig’s biographies have been made with the author or his agent.”

All of this, taken together with Mr. Knopf’s assurance made over the telephone that the royalties earned on the American editions of Thomas Mann go to Thomas Mann, should put to rest all the doubts raised by Mr. Irwin. Now, when you go to buy “Power” or “Buddenbrooks” or “Lincoln”-a Ludwig opus-or “Marie Antoinette,” you may do so with the knowledge that no part of your hard-earned money is going to the despoilers of these authors.


It Must be a Jewish plot. Every year an American committee selects three novels published in this country for translation into French, under the auspices of the Femina group. From these three, a committee of Frenchmen, and perhaps women, too, selects one for the Prix Femina American. This selection and award is in addition to the honor conferred, once a year, upon a creative work published in England, often a novel, sometimes a poem.

This year the American committee, which is not at all Jewish, has selected for translation “Long Remember” by MacKinlay Kantor; “Lamb in His Bosom,” by Caroline Miller (the Pulitzer prize winner) and “The Unpossessed” by Tess Slesinger.

Of these three novels, and all of them works of the creative imagination, half are Jewish. If you halve three, you get one and a half. Now, the gentle reader may well ask, how do you reach that fraction in your estimate? Very simply, as I shall show.

Caroline Miller is not Jewish at all. Tess Slesinger is all-Jewish. And MacKinlay Kantor is half Jewish, on his father’s side. Proving that half of three authors are Jewish. So far as thematic material is concerned, there is nothing Jewish about Kantor’s “Long Remember,” which is a novel around the Battle of Gettysburg, while Miss Slesinger’s novel is only incidentally Jewish, to the extent that you cannot write a novel about New York intellectuals without having as one of your characters-and in this case one of the most colorful-Jewish.

From what I know of these books, it seems to me that the task of translating them into French will be fraught with more than ordinary difficulties.

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