Exil editions

The collection: A representative collection of German Exilliteratur (exiles’ literature) from the period 1933-1945; novels and scholarly works.
Size: Over 500 titles.
Access: The books may be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room. All books can be found in the KB catalogue; this link takes you to a list of Exil editions
More information: Paul van Capelleveen - 070-3140331

Die Kinder von Gernika (1939)
Die Kinder von Gernika (1939)

Cover design by Henri Friedlaender for Hermann Kesten,Die Kinder von Gernika. Amsterdam : Allert de Lange, 1939 (Call number: KW EXIL 376)

Joseph Roth, Die Geschichte von der 1002. Nacht, 1939
Joseph Roth, Die Geschichte von der 1002. Nacht, 1939

Cover design drawing by Charles Eyck for Joseph Roth, Die Geschichte von der 1002. Nacht. Bilthoven: De Gemeenschap, 1939, KW EXIL 395.

If you are looking for publications by Jewish of communist writers that fled Nazi Germany, the KB is a good place to start. The collection includes, among others, the novels of Joseph Roth and Alfred Döblin in the original editions, with dust jackets designed by typographers such as Henri Friedlaender, who also fled from Germany.

Collection profile

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the political climate changed to such an extent that many Jewish authors and scholars could no longer publish their work. They fled abroad, or had their works issued by publishers in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

This wave of German Exilliteratur or exiles' literature began in 1933 and lasted until the end of World War II in 1945. Exilliteratur was mainly written by Jews or communists. Until the beginning of the German occupation in 1940, Jews and communists were allowed to settle in the Netherlands. Later on, many of them emigrated to the United States. Among them were literary authors, but also scholars.

The Exil editions were published by Dutch publishers such as Querido and Allert de Lange, who focused on literary texts, and Brill, Sijthoff, and Nijhoff, who mainly published scholarly texts. Almost 50 publishers were active in the field.

Some designers also fled to the Nazi Germany to build a career in the Netherlands. Henri Friedlaender started working at the printer Mouton from The Hague (he signed his work with the initials of his surname, Fr.). The binding designs of P.L. Urban (who signed with U) also became famous.

Other designers/artists who came to the Netherlands include Helmut Salden (who would design the books of Van Oorschot publishers after the war), and Suzanne Heynemann (who later designed the school books of J.B. Wolters at Groningen). The names of the designers have been added to the KB’s catalogue records.

Collection history

The core of the KB’s Exil collection was assembled by the German scholar Hans Würzner (1927-2009). He worked for the Department of German Language and Literature of Leiden University and organised several exhibitions of the books from the 1970s onwards. The collection was acquired from him in 1995 and has continued to grow ever since. In 2010 Hendrik Edelman bequeathed his mathematical and scientific Exil editions to the KB. Incidentally, antiquarian acquisitions are made.

Babylonische Wandrung oder Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall (1934)
Babylonische Wandrung oder Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall (1934)
The technology of aluminum and its light alloys (1936)
The technology of aluminum and its light alloys (1936)


  • Deutsche Emigrantenliteratur in den Niederlanden, 1933-1940 : Bücher, Briefe und Bilder / [H. Würzner ; Katalog bearb. von G.A. von Winter ; vorw. R. Anhegger]. - [Amsterdam : Goethe Intitut], 1973
  • De Duitse emigrantenliteratuur en de Nederlandse schrijvers / M.H. Würzner. - 's-Gravenhage: School voor taal- en letterkunde, 1973
  • Zur Deutschen Exilliteratur in den Niederlanden, 1933-1940 / hrsg. von Hans Würzner. - Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1977
  • Österreichische Exilliteratur in den Niederlanden 1934-1940 / hrsg. von Hans Würzner. - Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1986
  • Deutsche Literatur im Exil in den Niederlanden 1933-1940 / hrsg. von Hans Würzner und Karl Kröhnke. - Amsterdam [etc.]: Rodopi, 1994
  • Exil-Gestalten : deutsche Buchgestalter in den Niederlanden, 1932-1950 / Kurt Löb. - Arnhem: Gouda Quint, 1995
  • Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933-1945 und Sammlung Exil-Literatur 1933-1945 : Katalog der Bücher und Broschüren ; zugleich Band 2 von Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933-1945: Katalog der Bücher und Broschüren (1989) / [Bearb.: Mechthild Hahner]. - Stuttgart [etc.] : Metzler, 2003
  • International publishing in the Netherlands, 1933-1945 : German exile, scholarly expansion, war-time clandestinity / by Hendrik Edelman. - Leiden [etc.] : Brill, 2010