What J.R.R. Tolkien said to the Nazis when they asked if he was Jewish.

Via elephant journal
on Aug 18, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

For more: “The Hobbit: 1 Reason why it must be Read, not just Watched.”
Bonus: Why Tolkein’s son hates Peter Jackson’s Hobbit & Lord of the Rings movies.

If I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.

My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject—which should be sufficient.

I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army.

I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.


YouTube Preview Image

Via Reddit: “In 1938, Tolkien was preparing to release The Hobbit in Germany. The publishers first wanted to know if he was of Aryan descent. This was his response.”



About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive. Questions? info elephantjournal com


29 Responses to “What J.R.R. Tolkien said to the Nazis when they asked if he was Jewish.”

  1. Always loved this man. Love him even more now. Thanks for sharing. Frodo Lives!

  2. Never heard this, so cool! He was not only a scholar of amazing intellect, a writer of monumental talent , with a compassionate, humanitarian heart but also was an avid defender of the environment! A rare gem of a Gentleman!
    thanks for the interesting post!

  3. Mads says:

    Tolkien brings so many happy memories to my childhood all inspired by his tales. His tales got me through some dark times in childhood. I am not surprised at his wise answer. He was such an amazing literate giant in his time… His stories have and will continue to reach many generations and stimulated many imaginations.

  4. Linda Lewis says:

    Perfect response to that irrelevant and idiotic question!

  5. […] Bonus (worth it). swfobject.embedSWF("http://www.youtube.com/v/zNfh2x3f8g8&rel=0&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=0", "vvq-257754-youtube-1", "425", "344", "10", vvqexpressinstall, vvqflashvars, vvqparams, vvqattributes); Waylon Lewis, founder of elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green content two years running, Changemaker and Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards & Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ […]

  6. tim says:

    Fantastic bit, thanks for sharing!

  7. […] Elephant GA_googleFillSlot('MonkeyZen_Entre__Posts_Medio_610x300'); Temas:J.R.R. Tolkien poema Rey […]

  8. @yheardme says:

    Spoken like the thoughtful devoted Catholic that he was.

  9. […] Religion News Blog. [↩] [↩]ISI Lecture Program. ISI. [↩] [↩] [↩]What J.R.R. Tolkien said to the Nazis when they asked if he was Jewish. Elephant Journal. [↩]Other interesting […]

  10. Jack says:

    He is Gandalf

  11. Jonathan Waller says:

    @heardme! is that an ironic statement?? Hope so as I see no reason for him being Catholic to be singled out for formulating his response.

  12. Peter B says:

    Further evidence, if it were needed, that this was a man who understood more than most of us the nature of good and evil.

  13. This is almost word for word what Charlie Chaplin replied when asked a similar question. Both such worthy men.

  14. orangemike says:

    Tolkien was a bit of a tory; but that letter was the act of a true mensch.

  15. Winter is Coming says:

    Doubt he would be singing the same tune today after witnessing Israel unleash it's master plan to kill innocent Palestinians in plain site. One day the world will stop fearing backlash and call this ugliness genocide!

  16. EcoTamar says:


  17. Chris says:

    You only have to go back 200 000 years to find your common ancestor – we are ALL related – like it or not.

Leave a Reply