The 1930s: In Defense of Expelled and Detained Writers
Fascism and PEN
The rise of National Socialism in Germany and Fascism in Spain present challenges to one of PEN’s founding tenets: that individual PEN centers and the organization as a whole remain free of national or political passion.
Yes He Can
Carl Van Doren is elected president of PEN American Center.
John Galsworthy, PEN’s first president, receives the Nobel Prize for Literature. Unable to attend the ceremony due to illness, he dies six months later. In a final act of literary philanthropy, Galsworthy leaves his Nobel Prize money to PEN.
Robert Frost is elected president of PEN American Center, a position he is assured is strictly ceremonial.
Action Against the Un-German Spirit
German PEN is “harmonized” by order of Hitler. Dozens of German writers, whose race or opinion do not conform to Nazi principles, are expelled from the center. Shortly after, the German Student Association proclaims a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit,” climaxing on May 10 in a literary cleansing-by-fire when more than 25,000 “un-German” books are burned, setting the stage for an era of censorship and state control of culture. The recently harmonized German PEN center remains silent. Among the writers whose books were burned: Bertolt Brecht, August Bebel, Karl Marx, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Helen Keller, H. G. Wells, Franz Werfel, Max Brod, Stefan Zweig, and Heinrich Heine.