Tolkien and the Nazis

15 12 2006

The following is the content of a letter by Tolkien. It is addressed to a German publishing company named Rütten & Loening Verlag and appears to be in response to their enquiries regarding his genealogy. It is dated July 25th, 1938.

Dear Sirs,

Thankyou for your letter….. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject – which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its suitability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.

I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and
remain yours faithfully,
J.R.R. Tolkien

[H. Carpenter (ed.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (London: HarperCollins, 2006), §30]




2 responses

10 03 2010
Florine, how do you do it?

14 01 2011
Steynian 434 « Free Canuckistan!

[…] When asked by Hitler’s “Department of Culture” whether his stories or his own family background were properly Aryan (and thus Jew-free), Tolkien responded by letter with a very polite but unmistakeable “Get Stuffed, You Nazi Gits!“ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: