Nazis demanded to know if J.R.R. Tolkien was jewish. He responded with an elegant “Burn”.

Arturo Perozo
3 min readJan 1, 2021

When the Nazi Party sent a letter to J.R.R. Tolkien demanding to know if he was Jewish, the author of “The Hobbit” responded to them making a fool of them with such elegance, that it could be considered an insult to this day.

As you well know, the Nazis were trying to prevent German culture from mixing with Jewish culture. For this reason, in 1938 while J.R.R. Tolkien was in full negotiations with a german publisher for the translation of his work “The Hobbit”, the Nazi party sent him a letter demanding to know the roots of the writer and this was his response:

Source: The letter of J.R.R. Tolkien

25 July 1938 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But 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.

Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.

Arturo Perozo

Im a Chef, Krav Maga practitioner/enthusiast and a Writer. I know, weird combination. Not a native english speaker and writer, so feel free to correct me.