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Endpapers: A family story of books, war escape, and home

Hosted By: The Center for Jewish History

Researched over a year that author Alexander Wolff spent living in Berlin, Endpapers excavates the extraordinary histories of his grandfather and father: the renowned publisher Kurt Wolff, dubbed “perhaps the twentieth century’s most discriminating publisher” by the New York Times Book Review, and Kurt’s son Niko, who fought in the Wehrmacht during World War II before coming to America.

Born in Bonn into a highly cultured German-Jewish family, Kurt Wolff set up his own publishing firm at 23, publishing Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, Karl Kraus, and many other authors whose books would soon be burned by the Nazis. Fleeing Germany in 1933, Kurt and his second wife immigrated to New York, where they founded Pantheon Books, which would soon take its own place in literary history. But Kurt’s son Niko, offspring of his first marriage to Elisabeth Merck, was left behind in Germany, where despite his Jewish heritage he served the Nazis on two fronts. With surprising revelations from never-before-published family letters, diaries, and photographs, Endpapers is a moving and intimate family story, weaving a literary tapestry of the perils, triumphs, and secrets of history and exile.

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