Pabst Building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ca. 1900

Kurt Enoch with novelist Erskine Caldwell, 1982

Kurt Enoch - Refugee and Paperback Pioneer


Kurt Enoch grew up in Hamburg as one of three children to liberal progressive Jewish parents who owned a Hamburg-based printing plant. Following the rise of National Socialism in Germany, Kurt Enoch immigrated to France, England, and then the United States continuing his career as a publisher at each stop. An innovator in the publishing field, Kurt Enoch helped introduce changes such as sleeker formats, updated designs, and a thoughtful, strategic marketing of his books made Enoch a major transformer and pioneer of the paperback publishing business with his influence showing in the trade until today.

Kurt Enoch (born in Hamburg, Germany, on November 22, 1895; died February 15, 1982, in Puerto Rico), grew up as one of three children to liberal progressive Jewish parents who owned a Hamburg-based printing plant. Enoch joined the business when he returned from serving in World War I, finding his father’s health severely impacted by stress of the war years and the increased workload. Enoch transformed the company to a successful business, publishing Klaus Mann’s works and focusing on English-language paperbacks. In 1932, Enoch became a co-owner of the Albatross Modern Continental Library, a publishing house specializing in affordable reprints of English-language literature. After the rise of the National Socialist party, Enoch had to sell the publishing house and emigrated to Paris in 1936, and to the United States in 1940. With the British publishing house Penguin planning to expand to the United States, Enoch with his background in paperback publishing was a perfect fit and had substantial impact on the success of the expansion. In 1945, he became president and co-owner of the U.S. expansion of Penguin. In 1947, he bought the company with a partner and renamed it into the New American Library (NAL) which eventually became one of the largest publishers in the United States. Innovations such as sleeker formats, updated designs, and a thoughtful, strategic marketing of his books made Enoch a major transformer and pioneer of the paperback publishing business with his influence showing in the trade until today.

Family and Ethnic Background

Kurt Enoch was born November 22, 1895, in Hamburg, Germany. The family of his father, Oscar Enoch (1860-1934), can be traced back to Hamburg and Northern Germany for generations. Oscar initially became a rare book dealer but due to health issues was forced to give that career up and instead became a partner in a small Hamburg-based printing plant. Enoch’s mother Rosa was Austrian and her family had lived in Mähren and Vienna as well as Prague for generations. Her father owned a successful brewery. According to Enoch’s memoirs, both families were Jewish but not practicing their religion. They were liberal and progressive, well educated, and well-to-do.[1] Kurt Enoch had two siblings: an older brother and a younger sister. Enoch’s family background with ancestors of both sides of his family having been successful businessmen may have played a significant role in the strong entrepreneurial spirit Enoch showcased throughout his life. It was very likely this upbringing that would later in his life give him the confidence, the risk-taking, and the will to start a new business in a foreign country, not only once, but several times.

World War I and Early Career

Shortly after Kurt Enoch graduated school with no clear decision on his future plans, World War I broke out and Enoch was considered fit for frontline service. Making the most of the time while waiting to be able to join the military, he accepted a volunteer apprenticeship without compensation at the Gselliussche Buchhandlung, a well-established bookstore in Berlin, where he received his first formal training in the retail book trade. Sharing a room with his brother who attended the Technical University of Berlin, he also attended lectures on political economy and sociology at Berlin University.[2]

It is unclear when exactly Enoch joined the 45th Field Artillery Regiment but it becomes obvious in his memoirs that he felt obligated to join the war with more and more casualties being reported. His parents were initially not supportive but eventually agreed to him joining the military. After having been stationed and trained near his hometown Hamburg, his regiment was sent to the Western front on November 27, 1915.[3]

When Enoch returned from the war on December 23, 1918, he found his father’s health having been affected by the war years and the increased workload after his business partner had passed away.[4] Although Enoch understood his father’s need for a successor for the family business comprising three enterprises, a printing company called the Gebrüder Enoch Verlag, a book jobbing and magazine distribution, and a trade book publishing company operating on the local and the national level, he did not feel ready for it yet.[5] Returning to university in Hamburg, Enoch added philosophy, sociology, and commercial law to his previously started studies in political economy. Concurrently, Enoch started to familiarize himself with the family business as much as his time allowed, and began to participate in the decision-making processes. By starting to accompany his father, who served as a board member of the Association of German Lithographic Printers, to union and business meetings, Enoch gained invaluable insight into business processes in general, and the skillsets needed in conducting difficult business negotiations. Although the training on his father’s side certainly contributed to Enoch’s future skills in leading successful negotiations, and in the creation of national standards in the printing business, it is evident in Enoch’s memoir that what he really and mostly was interested in was “publishing, the process of editorial planning, the search for authors, the practical preparation of the publishing program and its implementation.” It isn’t surprising in this context that Enoch’s father followed his son’s advice and agreed that book publishing should become the focus of the business and that the printing plant, which had remained a separate business and which was solely used to fill orders from external customers, should be sold.[6]

Marriage and First Paperback Successes

In 1921, Kurt Enoch got engaged to the nineteen-year old Hertha Rehse Frischmann. His upcoming marriage and his father’s declining health led to him speeding up his studies and finishing university with a doctorate degree in 1921. Enoch married Hertha in a double marriage with his older brother who married Hertha’s older sister at the end of 1921. After returning from his honeymoon, Kurt Enoch took over his father’s business. He quickly introduced changes to address the increasingly bad economic conditions in Germany resulting from the reparation payments of the Treaty of Versailles.[7] These changes included creating a distinctive, more recognizable profile for the Gebrüder Enoch Verlag by focusing on significant writers and new talents. Kurt Enoch also created a more international image by adding translations of foreign works and books about other parts of the world to the portfolio of the publishing house.

With the beginning of the so called “Golden Twenties” and the return to stability following the implementation of the Dawes Plan in 1924, literature, cinema, theater, and musical works in Germany entered a phase of great creativity. Striving for national recognition, Enoch succeeded to attract non-local authors. In his memoirs, he claims that all of Klaus Mann’s works at the time were published by him and his Gebrüder Enoch Verlag.[8] It is indeed true that Enoch published Klaus Mann’s first novella Vor dem Leben (Before Life) in 1925, and that he also published his next five works successfully. Klaus Mann did however publish thirteen of his works before 1933 with other publishers such as S. Fischer.[9] How exactly Enoch established his relationship with Klaus Mann is not known. Thomas Mann apparently did not know about his son’s book and therefore Klaus did not want it to be published with S. Fischer, his father’s publisher.[10]Vor dem Leben was originally set to be published in the Stegemann Verlag in Hannover and had even been advertised there. It is unknown what happened and why Klaus Mann cancelled the contract and switched to Kurt Enoch’s Gebrüder Enoch Verlag where the book was eventually successfully published.[11]

In 1931, Enoch joined John Holroyd-Reece and Max Wegner with their Albatross Modern Continental Library. The newly founded publishing house aimed at publishing a modernized version of the venerable and world-famous Tauchnitz editions. Tauchnitz was a paperback library of over five thousand titles of inexpensive English-language reprints of American and British literature, established by Bernhard Tauchnitz in 1841.[12] Over forty companies before Albatross had tried to compete with Tauchnitz editions and all failed. The Albatross Modern Continental Library however presented a true rival to Tauchnitz. What made them a dangerous competitor for Tauchnitz was the selection of authors, but also, and more importantly, the focus on modern editorial policies, improved typography, a sleeker, more modern format, and an updated cover design that used color-coding for their different categories of books. In contrast to the new, modern Albatross editions, Tauchnitz editions had hardly changed their design over the past thirty years and looked somewhat outdated in comparison. Enoch became the sole distributor for the Albatross Modern Continental Library as indicated on advertisements from the time.[13] His new position with Albatross required Enoch to extensively travel to Paris, London, and the Côte d’Azur. It not only provided him with the necessary travel permits but also allowed for a much appreciated break from “the ever more stifling atmosphere inside Germany.”[14]

The Rise of National Socialism in Germany, Enoch’s Emigration to France, and a Second Marriage

With Hitler becoming chancellor in 1933, Enoch initially saw very little interference with his business. He ascribed this fact to his status as a decorated veteran of World War I, and the important position Albatross had for the German economy. The book burnings of May 1933, however, the increasing number of Enoch’s colleagues and customers now wearing Nazi uniforms, and Joseph Goebbels’ keynote speech at the official book trade organization were clear and unquestionable signs that the situation for Jews in Germany was starting to get very uncomfortable.[15] In March 1933, Joseph Goebbels had become head of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under Hitler and was in charge of the coordination and control of media, press, the publishing business, culture, and art. In addition to the power to censor any texts published, Goebbels’ ministry also controlled who could work in the publishing trade, which led to the exclusion of Jews and people whose political views did not align with those of the Nazi party. The Börsenverein der Deutschen Buchhändler zu Leipzig (The Association of the German Booktrade in Leipzig) decided not to passively wait for the Reich Ministry’s decisions but to take an active step in declaring their loyalty with the new leadership in Germany.[16]

In 1934, Enoch’s father Oscar passed away and later that year, his wife Hertha, who had been receiving treatments in a sanatorium in Davos, passed away from tuberculosis at the age of 33.[17] Kurt Enoch transferred his two daughters Ruth and Mirjam to a boarding school in the Netherlands where he felt they would be safer than in Hamburg.[18] On the business side, 1934 was the year that Albatross took over the editorial leadership for Tauchnitz, with Kurt Enoch now in charge of distribution for both, Tauchnitz and Albatross editions, with the exception of the distribution to Italy.[19] With the growing success of Albatross Tauchnitz, Enoch’s colleagues became concerned with him and the center of the company’s distribution located in Nazi Germany. As a result, all foreign promotion and sales to areas outside of Germany were transferred to a newly founded organization called Continenta S.A. This new enterprise was located in Paris and headed by Enoch.

Preparing his emigration to France, Enoch had his mother sell her home so she could join him in France. He also made sure his sister, along with many of his Jewish employees, had their paperwork in order to emigrate with him.[20] Just how difficult it was for Enoch to travel between Germany and France while completing his paperwork for emigration is evidenced in the following quote from his memoir:

At the same time it was exhilarating to breathe, even if only for a few days at a time, the air of a free country, to feel the independence of spirit of the people, the joie de vivre of youth in the sidewalk cafés, to enjoy the absence of uniforms, marches, demonstrations, banners and other reminders of the police state. However, the experience of such contrasts also made it harder to return, to face already at the border the harsh realities when meeting officials, customs, immigration, Gestapo and other Nazi functionaries whose hostility, harassment and even worse had to be feared and quietly accepted. I myself several times had to undergo most unpleasant and frightening searches and cross-examinations. No less frightening were the controls and procedures for leaving Germany […].[21]

Enoch boarded an Air France plane from Germany to Paris one last time and emigrated to Paris on August 8, 1936. It must have been around this time or shortly thereafter that Enoch met his future wife Margaret M. Heinemann, called Marga, a medical student and half-Jew.[22] Like Kurt Enoch’s family, her parents, Albert Jacob Heinemann and Barbara Berberich, came from Hamburg.[23] The two married in in early 1937.[24]

After his successful emigration to France, Enoch added a second operation in London, Imperia Ltd., from where he would operate the distribution of French and English-language books in England, and Enoch Ltd., which he used for English-language publishing activities. Both companies were located at No.1 Bloombury Street.

In July 1937, Penguin Books was launched, presenting a British library of paperback editions. Penguin was founded by Allen Lane in England who had recognized the market for cheap and convenient reading. Already after the Great Depression of 1929, reading was used as an affordable and convenient escape from a dismal reality by large parts of society. World War II increased the desire for reading material as uncertainty and travel restrictions grew even more.[25] Allen Lane used this market for Penguin Books which would also fit perfectly into the pockets of the uniforms of young men fighting in the war who were desperate for distraction from the battlefield.[26] While other publishers struggled, Penguin would further flourish over the next decades. This was mainly due to the fact that Lane understood the dynamics of the market. Readers sought reading material that was cheap and ephemeral, and that could easily be passed on from one reader to another. The paperback was the perfect vehicle to allow people to exchange reading material quickly and easily.

Around the same time, Kurt Enoch realized the large market for paperback editions of French-language books in England if they could be sold at a low price and in a convenient size. He went on to publish a number of French classics and popular titles, organizing them into a uniform and visually attractive library. The enterprise proved to be successful. So successful, in fact, that Enoch was invited to meet with Allen Lane at Penguin; a meeting that would result in an offer to collaborate on a Penguin Français edition in Paris as the publisher of French-language Penguin and Pelican books. Unfortunately, the collaboration was stopped at this early stage by the outbreak of World War II.[27]

Shortly after the war broke out, Enoch, along with all other “male aliens of a certain group, born in Germany or Austria” had to report to the “Stade de Colombes”, a sport stadium.[28] After being confined there for eleven days, the men were transported to a railroad station, loaded into trains, and transported to an internment camp near Mesley-du-Maine.[29] Enoch received notice of his release on December 4, 1939, and returned to his family and business in Paris on December 6, 1939. Due to the war, England was the only location Enoch could run a steady business in at that time. He therefore joined an alliance with Maurice Girodias, forming Unicorn Press. The first product of the newly established English-language venture was Steinbeck’sGrapes of Wrath.

Flight from France and Arrival in the United States

Enoch enlisted in the French Army to fight the Germans. In the meantime, his older daughter Ruth and his sister were interned in Gurs.[30] With the German occupation of France, Enoch and his family were separated while attempting to escape the Germans but found each other again near Limoges where they stayed on a peach farm without passports or visa, desperately looking for ways to escape.[31]

Fortunately for the Enoch family, the United States had just established a new procedure to issue entry visas to the United States. With the sponsorship of Enoch’s brother in Detroit, and of the author Thomas Mann, Enoch contacted Varian Fry, the representative of the Emergency Rescue Committee in Marseille who helped him set up an appointment with the American consul Hiram Bingham. Bingham would soon after issue Enoch and his family exit visas. Overcoming more organizational and bureaucratic hurdles, the Enoch family left Europe via Spain and Portugal on the Nea Hellas, arriving in New York on October 12, 1940.[32]

When Enoch arrived in the United States, he was forty-five years old and had two teenage daughters and his wife Marga to take care of. He also was in debt to his brother who supported him with financial resources for the trip to the United States. The family decided that the younger daughter would stay with relatives in New Jersey where she could finish high school, while Enoch’s older daughter moved to Iowa where she accepted an au-pair position and enrolled in university. Enoch’s sister moved to San Francisco to find work in a hospital.[33]

Just how strong Kurt Enoch’s entrepreneurial spirit was is demonstrated by the fact that he declined his brother’s advice to find a job, insisting instead on building a new business in New York. He moved to 42 Perry Street in Greenwich Village and started working his network of acquaintances, colleagues, and former European collaborators while being supported by his brother with $100 per month (roughly $1,700 in 2014 USD) and by his wife Marga who took on jobs in self-help refugee organizations.[34] Fred Melcher, publisher of Publisher’s Weekly, introduced Enoch to the New York publishing world. In addition, Enoch got in touch with Ben Huebsch of Viking Press, Bennett Cerf of Random House, and Charles Scribner of Charles Scribner Company.[35] Another one of Enoch’s early contacts in New York was fellow German refuge Henry Koppell, born Heinz Günther, with whom Enoch had worked in Germany. In 1924, Koppell had founded the Deutsche Buchgemeinschaft, an enterprise following a similar concept as the Book-of-the-Month Club, and one of the largest businesses in Germany at the time with over five hundred thousand members.[36] At the Deutsche Buchgemeinschaft, Koppell had also worked with another publisher who would find refuge in the U.S. and establish his own niche in the publishing field on the West Coast: Felix Guggenheim.

Kurt Enoch succeeded in convincing Koppell to provide him with working capital and clerical help through Koppell’s Alliance Publishing Company in exchange for one-half of the gross profits from exports of Enoch’s newly established Interscience Publishing Company under his new proprietorship Enoch Publishing Company. His British company would handle the distribution for Interscience in the United Kingdom and develop additional proposals for international distribution.[37] In addition, Enoch took on consulting work for Koppell, and offered international distribution deals to fellow émigré publishers Maurits Dekker and Erik Proskauer.[38]

Founding American Penguin Books

While most of his former colleagues such as Kurt and Helen Wolff focused their new business enterprises on publishing European classics and works produced by other German-speaking exiles, Enoch saw his opportunities in the existing American market. His consulting work for Koppell proved to be particularly fruitful as it allowed Enoch to gain invaluable insights into the American publishing scene. Enoch used the skills he had developed and showcased during his career in Germany and made excellent use of his unique ability to identify and develop market opportunities others did not see.[39] He became particularly interested in the limited access to books outside of bigger cities in the United States; a gap which was filled by Pocket Books. Pocket Books was an “inexpensive paperback reprint venture […] using a network of wholesale magazine and/or newspaper distributors as a vehicle to get its publications into every type of retail outlet willing to handle them” and simultaneously offering a greater and better variety of books than other competitors.[40] Enoch realized that Pocket Books had potential in non-fiction, more sophisticated fiction, and classics that they were not addressing yet. Sensing that the Unites States would soon become involved in World War II and given his experience of the development of the book market in Europe, Enoch understood that the demand for books in a small, lightweight format would soon increase in the U.S. He approached Henry Koppell with his idea of creating a paperback series but the decision to move forward dragged on. Around the same time, Allan Lane got back in touch and shared his difficulties with shipments of Penguin books from England that were cut off as well as the problem of paper shortages as a result of the war. Enoch proposed the transition of Penguin from a British sales agency to an American publisher. He subsequently became vice president of the American Penguin company in charge of publishing, with Allen Lane and Ian Ballantine as business partners.[41] He moved into an office near the lower end of Fifth Avenue.

By the end of the war, the business was well organized and profitable, yet still small. Disagreeing on the future market that American Penguin should concentrate their post-war business on, Ballantine resigned and became president of Bantam Books where he would pursue his vision for the reprint book market. With a large number of staff following Ballantine to Bantam Books, and their distributor also aligning with Bantam Books, Enoch and Lane were faced with having to reorganize the new American Penguin. In June 1945, Kurt Enoch became the company’s president with equity of 40 percent, and a new distributor was found in Fawcett Publications in Greenwich, Connecticut.[42]

Financially more secure, Enoch and his wife had been able to move out of their furnished apartment into a place of their own, a penthouse at the corner of 20th Street and Ninth Avenue in Chelsea at $80 a month (roughly $1,000 in 2014 USD).[43] In late 1945, Victor Weybright joined the company as editorial director, chairman, and secretary. While Enoch and Weybright shared their vision for the American Penguin, it became clear in 1947 that Allen Lane did not. He was not satisfied with Enoch’s and Weybright’s cover pictures and editorial choices, and increasingly objected to publishing books that he saw as violations of his and his associates’ more puritanical standards or personal taste. Allen also asked for the inclusion of titles that were successful with the British company but that were considered unsuitable for the American market by Enoch and Weybright. With opinions on the businesses’ future growing increasingly apart, it was eventually decided that the two companies should be separated.

The New American Library

Enoch and Weybright acquired Lane’s interest in the American company on equal terms but had to surrender the trademarks Penguin and Pelican, subsequently renaming their company New American Library of World Literature in 1948 with the trademarks Signet for quality fiction and reference books, and Mentor for non-fiction and classics.[44] The New American Library would eventually become one of the largest publishers in the United States.[45] 1948 was a year of great changes not only in Enoch’s business life, but also in his personal life. The most important one being Enoch’s naturalization as an American citizen[46]:

It is hard to describe the emotion I felt when I received and held in my hand the certificate which made me a full and equal member of the American nation, and ended many years of living in limbo, stateless, not belonging and not protected – a member of a group of humanity once described in a book by the well-known writer Arthur Koestler as ‘the scum of the earth’.[47]

Every possible weekend or holiday was spent in the Enochs’ newly purchased country home in the Catskill mountain area, where Kurt and his wife Marga enjoyed renovating and extending the property, gardening, and organizing social gatherings with neighbors and family friends. Enoch also became an avid pilot. Owning the country house and connecting with the community around it very much contributed to the Enochs’ “feelings of attachment and belonging” to their new homeland, Enoch acknowledges in his memoir.[48]

The business under its new name and now completely independent management thrived. The New American Library successfully published contemporary American authors such as Faulkner and Salinger, as well as leading European writers such as Joyce, Koestler, and Thomas Mann. Mentor Books was established as a complete library of scholarly, non-fiction books. They were the first publishing house to publish and mass-distribute a literary magazine in book form, The New World Writing, and succeeded in collaborating with film production and distribution companies in cross-promoting books and movies. The list of innovations by the New American Library goes on, including new price categories for longer titles, a distinctive and easily recognizable typography and format for their paperback books, and the establishment of a specialized educational department tied in to schools and other educational institutions.

After the war had ended, the U.S. government aimed to spread knowledge about the country, American history and politics. Hence, in 1949, the United States established the Economic Administration Program, a new law that would allow the importer of American books to pay for purchases in the domestic currency while the exporter would receive the funds through the program in U.S. dollars.[49] With the New American Library being the first publisher to be awarded an Economic Administration Program contract, Enoch traveled to Europe on April 5, 1949, for the first time after the war. He re-established his contacts in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, France, and several Scandinavian countries, laying the foundation for the reappearance of American books in Europe. Visiting his hometown Hamburg, Enoch hired his former Tauchnitz executive Erich Kupfer to run the German operation under the name Transatlantik.

With their origins in Europe, paperbacks revolutionized the American book market within only two decades. In 1962 alone, about two hundred and fifty million copies were sold ranging in price from 25 cents to 95 cents (roughly $2-$7 in 2014 USD), and about twenty-five million copies ranging in price from $1.25 to $3 (roughly $10-$23 in 2014 USD). In comparison, hardcover sales in the same year amounted to a little over ninety million copies.[50] When paperbacks made their first significant appearance in the United States in 1939, there were thirty-one titles on the market. By 1962, that number had risen to 1,866 titles in the low-price segment, and to 7,056 titles in the higher-price segment.[51]

Kurt Enoch and his partner Victor Weybright became what could be called pioneers in paperback publishing with the New American Library. They contributed significantly to the radical changes the paperback went through by changing its format from “poor paper, small type, flimsy bindings and lurid covers to high standards among the better paperbounds of good white paper, larger type, durable bindings, and artistic covers.”[52] In addition, they were among the paperback pioneers who had changed the contents of paperbacks from light fiction, mysteries, and westerns to international contemporary and classic fiction, and scientific, cultural, historical and political contents.[53] By the 1950s, they had not only established additional, innovative projects such as New World Writing, a series of anthologies introducing some of the most controversial and provocative contemporary writers, but also an international network of distribution for New American Library paperbacks.[54] Realizing they had to make plans for the future of the New American Library with their nearing retirement, Enoch and Weybright sold the business to the Times Mirror Company in Los Angeles, effective March 24, 1960, with Kurt Enoch serving on the Times Mirror Board of Directors.[55]

Enoch’s Life After the New American Library

But Enoch was still years away from true retirement. A Los Angeles Times article from 1962 indicates that Enoch travelled to Russia that year “as one of six American booksellers chosen by the US State Department to represent the country in a cultural exchange program”.[56] In 1964, Times Mirror asked Enoch to head a book division created for the acquisition of existing publishing firms.[57] In addition, he became very engaged in programs promoting reading and American publishing, subsequently serving as a director of the American Book Publishers Council, a director of the Franklin Book Program, and a member of the National Board of the National Book Committee. How much Enoch believed in the potential and in the reformation that paperback publishing had undergone is evident in the many articles he authored on the so-called “Paperback Revolution”, showcasing how far paperbacks had come not only in regard to the quality of paper, bindings, and covers, but more importantly in regard to content.[58] It is that change in the quality of the content of paperback books that Enoch was credited for frequently.[59] He believed in the paperback book as a means of democratizing the United States by what he called “an encouraging and significant revolution” that would provide access to books “to millions at low cost without sacrificing the tough independence and diversity of thought or the rich variety that books have always meant.”[60]

Enoch retired from his position with the Times Mirror Book Division in 1967, and from all his directorships in 1968. On February 8, 1968, he opened a consulting office specializing in publishing at 680 5th Avenue in New York.[61] His spare time was devoted to his personal interests such as flying, playing golf, and being involved in the arts. Kurt Enoch died at the age of eighty-six on February 15, 1982, while on vacation in Puerto Rico.[62]


It is astounding how an immigrant from Hamburg, Germany, could re-invent himself successfully several times despite the hardships of losing his homeland, and having to start over not once, but twice in a new, foreign country. Kurt Enoch fought in World War I in his native country Germany, enlisted in the French Army during World War II, and established several businesses while in exile in France, and finally in the United States. Each time, he faced new challenges and new dynamics unique to the publishing markets of these foreign countries. He did not give in to bitterness about the hardships he experienced in Germany and France, but embraced the opportunities that life in the United States offered. Gordon Graham who became friends with Enoch and his wife Marga describes Kurt Enoch as “a man of courage and resource”.[63] While we learn very little about Enoch’s personality from sources other than his memoir, his biography and entrepreneurial achievements underscore that courage and resourcefulness were indeed needed to achieve what Enoch achieved.

Kurt Enoch’s contributions to the publishing field are important and he can rightly be called one of the pioneers in the paperback publishing field. Not only was he one of the leading forces in Germany and in the United Kingdom to make paperbacks popular by recognizing their potential for the markets at the time, he also established and shaped the format and contents of paperbacks in the United States with the New American Library. One of Enoch’s strongest skills throughout his life was his ability to recognize opportunities in the publishing market, particularly when the market was changing due to factors such as war, the economic or cultural situation. One could say that the combination of this skill to recognize and harvest markets and opportunities in combination with his vast experience with changing markets in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom prepared him for his success in the paperback industry in the United States, leaving his mark until today.

Besides having had a successful business career, Enoch supported the cause of Israel, helped other refugees start a life in the United States, and served the United States and other countries by contributing to the democratizing access to books and knowledge.


[1] Margaret Enoch, ed., Memoirs of Kurt Enoch. Written for his family (privately printed: New York, 1984), 7.

[2] Margaret Enoch, 23-24.

[3] Margaret Enoch, 25-27.

[4] Margaret Enoch, 41.

[5] Kurt Enoch, Hamburger Persönlichkeiten (accessed January 19, 2015).

[6] Margaret Enoch, 45f.

[7] Margaret Enoch, 46f.

[8] Margaret Enoch, 49-53.

[9] Sabine Walter, “‘Ein unternehmungslustiger junger Unternehmer in Hamburg’ Klaus Mann und Kurt Enoch”, in: “Wir sind so jung – so sonderbar”: Klaus Mann und die Hamburger Kammerspiele, ed. Sabine Walter (Hamburg: edition fliehkraft, 1999), 39-44, here 42.

[10] Walter, 39.

[11] Walter, 40.

[12] Karl H. Pressler, “Tauchnitz und Albatross. Zur Geschichte des Taschenbuchs”, Aus dem Antiquariat, Boersenblatt fuer den Deutschen Buchhandel, Frankfurter Ausgabe, Nr. 102 (December 1984).

[13] Pressler.

[14] Margaret Enoch, 60f.

[15] Margaret Enoch, 65f.

[16] Guenther Heydemann, Jan Erik Schulte and Francesca Weil, eds., Sachsen und der Nationalsozialismus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht: Goettingen, 2014).

[17] Margaret Enoch, 55.

[18] Margaret Enoch, 69.

[19] Pressler.

[20] Margaret Enoch, 73.

[21] Margaret Enoch, 75f.

[22] England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010.

[23] “Deaths ENOCH, MARGARET M”, New York Times, December 21, 2006.

[24] Margaret Enoch, 71f.

[25] Rick Rylance, “Reading with a mission: the public sphere of Penguin books”, Critical Quarterly, 12/2005, Volume 47, Issue 4, 49.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Margaret Enoch, 81f.

[28] Margaret Enoch, 95.

[29] Margaret Enoch, 98.

[30] Margaret Enoch, 102-107.

[31] Margaret Enoch, 123f.

[32] Margaret Enoch, 138-141.

[33] Margaret Enoch, 143.

[34] Unless otherwise noted, all 2014 USD values calculated by using (accessed December 16, 2015).

[35] Gordon Graham, “Kurt Enoch: Paperback Pioneer”, in: Richard Abel and William Gordon Graham, eds., Immigrant Publishers: The Impact of Expatriate Publishers in Britain and America in the 20th Century (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2009), 44.

[36] “Henry G. Koppell is dead at 69”, New York Times, December 6, 1964.

[37] Margaret Enoch, 144f.

[38] Graham, 44.

[39] Graham, 45.

[40] Margaret Enoch, 147.

[41] Margaret Enoch, 147f.

[42] Margaret Enoch, 160f.

[43] Ibid. Also cf. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

[44] Margaret Enoch, 175f.

[45] Kurt Enoch, Hamburger Persönlichkeiten.

[46] Roland Jaeger, “Enoch, Kurt”, Das juedische Hamburg: Ein historisches Nachschlagewerk (accessed January 19, 2015).

[47] Margaret Enoch, 178.

[48] Margaret Enoch, 181.

[49] Margaret Enoch, 194f.

[50] Kurt Enoch, “Paperback Revolution Described”, The Austin Statesman, August 22, 1963.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Margaret Enoch, 210.

[55] “Enoch on board of the Times-Mirror”, Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1960.

[56] “Russians Termed Hungry For Books”, Los Angeles Times, November 30, 1962.

[57] Margaret Enoch, 210.

[58] Kurt Enoch, “Paperback Revolution Described”.

[59] “Refuge Put Substance in Soft Covers”, Obituary, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1982.

[60] Frederic Babcock, “Paper Bound Book: Threat or a Promise?” Chicago Daily Tribune, March 21, 1954.

[61] “Consulting office”, Los Angeles Times, January 28, 1968.

[62] “Kurt Enoch, 86; Pioneer in Paperback Publishing”, New York Times, February 17, 1982.

[63] Graham, 41.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Kurt Enoch - Refugee and Paperback Pioneer
  • Coverage 1895-1982
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date April 19, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018