German Exilliteratur (exile literature) is the name for a category of books in the German language written by writers of anti-nazi attitude who fled from Nazi Germany and its occupied territories between 1933 and 1945. These dissident authors, many of whom were of Jewish origin or with communist sympathies, fled abroad in 1933 after the Nazi Party came to power in Germany and after Nazi Germany annexed Austria by the Anschluss in 1938, abolished the freedom of press and started to prosecute the authors whose books were banned.
Many of the European countries where they found refuge were later occupied by Nazi Germany as well, which caused them again to look for safety elsewhere, by emigrating to the United States or taking cover in the "underground".
Between 1933 and 1939, prolific centers of German exile writers and publishers emerged in several European cities, like Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Zürich, London, Prague, Moscow as well as across the Atlantic in New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico. Well known for their publications were the publishers Querido Verlag and Verlag Allert de Lange in Amsterdam and Oprecht in Zürich. They served the German community outside Germany with critical literature, and their books were also smuggled into Nazi Germany.
The best known exile writers include Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Broch, Ernst Bloch, Alfred Döblin, Lion Feuchtwanger, Bruno Frank, Oskar Maria Graf, Hermann Hesse, Max Horkheimer, Heinrich Eduard Jacob, Hermann Kesten, Annette Kolb, Siegfried Kracauer, Else Lasker-Schüler, Emil Ludwig, Heinrich Mann, Klaus Mann, Erika Mann, Thomas Mann, Ludwig Marcuse, Robert Musil, Robert Neumann, Erich Maria Remarque, Ludwig Renn, Joseph Roth, Alice Rühle-Gerstel and Otto Rühle, Nelly Sachs, Felix Salten, Anna Seghers, Franz Werfel, Bodo Uhse, Max Brod, and Arnold Zweig. The authors Walter Benjamin, Walter Hasenclever, Ernst Toller, Kurt Tucholsky, Ernst Weiss, and Stefan Zweig committed suicide in exile.
- Martin Mauthner: German Writers in French Exile, 1933-1940, Vallentine Mitchell, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-85303-540-4