Der schweigsame Mann. Stefan Zweigs Auseinandersetzung mit dem Antisemitismus

Paola Paumgardhen


Despite the criticism of Stefan Zweig's relation to National Socialism, he was undeniably seen as an enemy by the Nazi movement. The cosmopolitan and pacifist writer, who had never written a disparaging word against Germany or concerned himself with politics, was a deliberately chosen victim even in the earliest phase of the political persecution of dissidents during the Nazi regime. Although his works were banned and burned in the barbaric autodafé on 10 May 1933, he was convinced that fascism could only be fought through cultural achievements. As is well known, Zweig was not a professional politician, but he eagerly participated in daily politics as an intellectual and tried to mobilize European consciousness trough his thoughts and visions. In his opinion, only good books could effectively combat Hitlerism. The aim of this article is to present Stefan Zweig’s commitment to tackling antisemitism as a humanist in spirit and action through his books, letters, speeches and interviews between 1933 and 1942. Without denying Zweig's weaknesses and naivety in the conflict with the fascist Zeitgeist, the article focuses in particular on the long underestimated political value of his late work. Like Brecht's Galilei, the Jewish writer could only continue writing books in self-imposed exile so as to spread his political ideas across the world beyond the limits of censorship.
Stefan Zweig, Judentum, Antisemitismus, Nationalsozialismus, Zionismusu
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