“A powerfully told story of family, honor, love, and truth . . . the beautiful and haunting stories told in this book transcend policy and politics.” —Beto O’Rourke
A literary gem researched over a year the author spent living in Berlin, Endpapers excavates the extraordinary histories of the author’s 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 his 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 became a publisher at twenty-three, setting up his own firm and publishing Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, Karl Kraus, and many other authors whose books would soon be burned by the Nazis. After fleeing Germany in 1933, Kurt and his second wife, Helen, founded Pantheon Books in a small Greenwich Village apartment. Pantheon would soon take its own place in literary history with the publication of Nobel laureate Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago, and as the conduit that brought major European works to the States. But Kurt’s taciturn 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. As Alexander Wolff visits dusty archives and meets distant relatives, he discovers secrets that never made it to the land of fresh starts, including the connection between Hitler and the family pharmaceutical firm E. Merck.
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.