• trying to survive

    'Thank you for letting us see “Zwei lebende Mauern”. It has much interesting material in it, but it is too dated for this country.'

    Herbert Sulzbach had been sending his First World War diaries (which had been published in Germany in 1935) to as many new publishers as he could. This was the disappointing response, in January 1937, from the editor of a New York magazine.

    Sulzbach was then unemployed, with no expectation of work in Germany. His factory had already been compulsorily purchased by the National Socialist government, and as a Jew he was no longer allowed to continue in business.

    He had been trying for several months to have his book republished outside Germany and his friend Virginia Milliken continued (unsuccessfully) to try to place it with publishers in America.

    'I have tried repeatedly to do something with your book over here, but the present situation is too pressing. I wish you would write some magazine articles on what you know of conditions,' she wrote to him as late as November 1939.

    By then, Sulzbach and his wife had emigrated and their financial situation was precarious. Much of their fortune had been confiscated in Germany, and emigrating had been costly, with huge taxes to pay for leaving. Neither of them could find any work.

    Herbert had tried, through his English agent, to set up another fancy paper factory in England. Negotiations had been going on for a year when, in January 1937, they inspected potential premises together in Slough.

    During the following months, Sulzbach was preoccupied with the complicated organisation required for emigration - travelling frequently between England and Germany. By May 1937 he recognised that the Slough factory had failed and four months later his business was liquidated. It was not easy trying to survive.

    In January 1941 Herbert Sulzbach considered writing his autobiography – although this never progressed beyond a few notes.

    'I could write volumes thinking of the fate of one single generation.'

    (photo: inspecting the factory premises in Slough, January 1937)


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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