Germany: Icelandic author’s book ‘censored’ by publisher

16 April 2013

The German version of Hallgrímur Helga’s novel, ‘The woman at 1000°’, is 30 chapters shorter than the original novel. Key passages about Hitler, concentration camps and SS are censored to meet the German market. The author protested, he says, but accepted the censorship.


“I do not know the German culture 100 percent and I did not know what might offend the Germans,” said the Icelandic author Hallgrímur Helgason to justify his acceptance of censorship in an interview with the Danish newspaper Politiken.

Chapter by chapter, literature lecturer at the University of Copenhagen Erik Skyum-Nielsen examined and compared the original and the German version of the book. His work shows that a total of 30 chapters have been either completely omitted or reformulated in the German version. It is mainly on topics related to Germany’s Nazi past which had been considered too thorny for a German audience: a section on mass graves, concentration camps, Hitler’s loneliness.

Erik Skyum-Nielsen said that he can not see this as anything else but than an expression of censorship:

“It is not just a gentle redrafting – it is a rewrite of everything that has to do with Adolf Hitler, SS and war. We are not talking about removing one word here and one sentence there, but completely systematic political censorship,” he told the Danish newspaper Information.

The German publisher denied that something had been censored or edited for political reasons.

“We have not changed anything to be politically correct. We just wanted to make it shorter, because it was very long and we had to publish it before the Book Fair. We made some decisions along with Helgason, but it was only in relation to the narrative,” said Tom Kraushaar who published the book in Germany.

“I am the publisher, not the editor. It is two years ago, but as I recall, the editor told me that we removed some chapters. We barely spoke about it.”

The coverage of this incident which took place in Germany in 2011 came out in Denmark in March and April 2013 because a Danish translation of the novel was being launched.

The author hopes that the full version of the book will someday be translated and re-released in Germany.

Politiken – 31 March 2013:
Hallgrímur Helgason: »Når man er forfatter, kan man ikke også være et godt menneske« (‘Hallgrímur Helgason: »As a writer you can also be a good human being«’)
By Tine Maria Winther

Dagbladet Information – 12 April 2013:
Stjerneforfatter censureret (‘Bestselling author censored’)

The Reykjavík Grapevine – 12 April 2013:
Hallgrímur Helgason Censored In Germany?
By Rebecca Louder

RUV – 12 April 2013:
Telur að Hallgrímur hafi verið ritskoðaður

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