Fischer, Samuel

views updated


FISCHER, SAMUEL (1859–1934), German publisher, Fischer, who was born in Liptószentmiklós, Slovakia, went to Berlin in 1881 and began trading there as a bookseller. In 1886 he founded the Fischer Verlag, specializing in the publication of foreign naturalist literature and of as yet little-known German authors. From 1898 onward, the character of the publishing house was largely determined by Moritz *Heimann, who was later succeeded as literary adviser by the poet Oskar Loerke. Fischer lent enthusiastic support to the "Freie Buehne," which sought to revitalize the German theater, and in 1889 began publishing its mouthpiece, the monthly Die Neue Rundschau. Until the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 the Fischer Verlag was Germany's leading literary publishing house. Fischer himself encouraged successive generations of aspiring young authors and secured the rights to publication of books by an impressive array of major writers, including Thomas *Mann, Arthur *Schnitzler, Jacob *Wassermann, Hugo von *Hofmannsthal, and Sigmund *Freud. Loerke, a staunch anti-Nazi, tried vainly to save the company under Hitler, and courageously delivered Fischer's funeral oration in 1934. Two years later, however, the publishing house was forced to move to Vienna and from there it was subsequently transferred to Stockholm (1938) and then to New York (1940). Gottfried Bermann-Fischer, the founder's son-in-law, assumed control of the firm in 1934 and maintained its activity abroad. In 1972 Gottfried Bermann-Fischer and his wife Brigitte, the daughter of Samuel Fischer, resigned from the Board of the Fischer Verlag and retired from all publishing activities.

In 1950 the Fischer Verlag resumed its publishing operations in Frankfurt. The well-known Fischer Buecherei, which specializes in paperback editions, was founded in 1952. S. Fischer und sein Verlag by Peter De Mendelssohn, giving a complete history of the publishing house, appeared in 1972.


G. Berman-Fischer, Der Fischer Verlag (1967).