This Article was actually begun as an article about Perry Rhodan in Hebrew called in translation : THE ETERNAL MAN in which I had presented the characters and history of Rhodan and Atlan to Israeli sf readers ,the great majority of whom had never heard about him .
As I was asked by German Perry Rhodan fan Willi Divo to translate the Article to English for the benefit of foreign and German readers of a German magazine called "SOL", I decided to drastically revise and change it as it very likely that most German readers will find nothing new in the history of Rhodan and co which I had presented to the Hebrew readers.
Instead I will deal in those subjects which will be new for foreign readers : the influence ( if such can it can be called ) of German sf and fantasy in Israel ,the translations of Rhodan to Hebrew and also the subject of “ancient astronauts “ and the Pherry Rhodan series ,in which I personally specifically interest .
German sf fantasy in Israel
As a result of the second world war and the holocaust German literature in general and German fantasy literature in particular were practically forbidden inIsrael. The stories of the Brothers Grimm, once much translated , were consider as “bad influence “ with emphasis on horrors and cruelty . however this disgust had vanished many years ago and today there are several complete editions of Grime stories in Hebrew .
On the other hand the Operas of RIchard Wagner and most particularly his mythological operas are still forbiden to be played since he is thought to have with them a major influence on Hitler and the nazis . This ban which put to effect since before the second world war is a source of a major controversy in Israel for many years,and there are many musicians who call to put an end to this ban .This controversy is the subject of several book and very recently a whole issue of a history magazine ZMANIN (TIMES ) was devoted to various articles on the subject of Wagner his operas and the controversy around them. Wagner though is today a special case .The Nebulengs epic on which Wagner had based some of his most controversial operas was translated to Hebrew at least twice .
Before the Second World War there was no problem with German literature and much of it was translated to Hebrew. The best know German (Austrian ) sf writer (and in fact the only one known) in Israel is the founder of Zionism Theodor Herzel who was a Austrian writer.
. Herzel had wrote a utopian sf novel about future Jewish state in Palestine called ALTNEULAND from whose Hebrew title was taken the name for the first Hebrew city Tel Aviv. At October 2002 it was the anniversary of `100 years for this book and it was republished in Hebrew.
. Herzel also happened to write the first story of alternate history in German and one of the first ever "Der Unterhimer Bounaparte". from 1900 about a alternate history in which Napoleone chose at 1795 a career of business instead of the army with the results thatFrancereturned to the monarchy at the end of the 18 century. As a matter of fact this is the first story of alternate history in which the changes are presented to the surprised reader as a matter of fact without trying to explain them as a dream or something like that ,just like modern alternate histories
. Herzel also wrote a fantasy story from which he made a play called SOLON IN LYDIA a fantasy set at the time of Greek leader Solon in which he encounter a long before his time scientist which invents something very similar to today nano –thechnology with the result of total social chaos. The story and the play are the best literary works of Herzel .
The most well known German –origin work of fantasy are the Munchhausen tall-stories which appeared in many versions in Hebrew before the world war and after ,including in the German version of Gustav Adolf Burger .
German famous works of literature FAUST of Goethe was translated several times since the 19 century.
German fantasy writers from the 19 century are not particularly known in Israel with the exeption of William Hauf which was always much translated and some of his stories were presented in Israel as children plays and puppet plays .
The early fantasy writer Ernest Theodore Amadeus Hoffman .was translated only in recent years ,however he had a strong influence on Israeli writer ( and sometimes fantasy writer) and critic Reuven Kritz who is A German speaker .
At 1975 Kritz published the first and till today almost the only research book in Hebrew on fantasy literature which included a deep literary investigation of the stories of Hoffman . More Recently at 1997 Kritz published under assumed name “ricky Keller “ the book “HOFMAN TALES IN TEL AVIV “ which is a modern fantasy deeply influenced by Hoffman stories and in which one of the central characters is called Hoffman. but this kind of influence by German fantasy writer is quite rare today.
Even Before the world war not much German sf or fantasy was translated to Hebrew .
The exceptions were Bernard Kellermann book The Tunnel about the building of transatlantic tunnel ( which was translated again to Hebrew several years ago ) and two books by FFriedrich Wilhelm Mader about the discovery of ancient city of Ophar in Africa which were quite popular and were translated again in the 70s.
On the other hand well known German sf and utopia works of the period such as Those of Alfred Dublin and Franz Werfel and Kurt Lassowitz were never translated ( Though of the first 2 writers their non fantasy work were translated)
Only in recent years were translated works of well known fantasy writers Gustav Meyrink ( his famous book THE GOLEM was translated only at 1997 ) and Leo Perutz ( which actually lived for many years in Israel utterly unknown , he becomes to be translated and popular there only in recent years).Kafka on the other hand was of course always much translated ,but not on account of his being fantasy writer
After the war
After the second world war German culture was for many years practically forbidden. with the exception of some 19- century writers, of Thomas Mann and particularly children writer Erich Kastner ( who is very popular in Israel) and above all of Karl May .
Karl May is a strange anomaly . It was well known that he was Hitler most favorite writer and had the strongest imaginitive influence on him beside and even more then Wagner. but it dident stop any one from translating him and reading him and the translations actually begun at the the middle of the second world war when practically no other German literature was translated and never stoped for many years after that . my opinion is that he was so popular since his translators know what a influence he had on youth movements in central Europeand wanted to have the same influence in Israelof making the readers more adventurous and “manly”.
Anyway he is the German writer most translated to Hebrew of all time ( more the 50 of his titles were translated and most more then once or twice ) if we will ignore pulp writer Dan Shoker . his adventure stories were second in popularity inIsraelonly to those of Tarzan (link to article in english about the israeli tarzan stories is below )
The May stories were so popular that at the beginning of the 60s there was even at least one ( and perhaps more then one ) original Hebrew series about the adventures of winetu`s half –breed son “the white hawk “ after his father death along side old Shaterhand and the rest .the success of May in Israel ( and in particularly at the time in which anti German sentiments were at their highest from the 40s to the 70s) is a incredible phenomenon to which I had devoted a whole chapter in my book “from tarzan to zbeng “ about the history of Israeli popular literature.
And while the high German literature was almost nonsexist in Israel at the 60s the German pulp literature was quite popular .
One pulp publisher Uri Shalgi of “Ramdor “ know and liked the German pulp stories and consider them the best of their kind . In his opinion the German westerns were far better then the Americans and he had hundreds of them translated and published in Hebrew
.Some from the G.P.UNGER series were translated with their origin clear.
But usually in Hebrew they were drastically revised and their heroes were changed to fit them as titles in original Hebrew series about westerns fighters “RINGO “ and BILL CARTER series which run to many hundreds of titles ( some of which were Hebrew original and some adapted from German and very very few from English ) and are still fondly remembered by many .
Ramdor also translated other German pulp series such as CLIF MORIS ( of which some 11 stories were translated at 1967-1968) ,JERRY CUTON , COMISAR X usually only a few titles each , as they were not very popular and I suspect several others which I do not identify .
I suspect that the majority and perhaps all of the pulp covers of Ramdor (thousands of them ) were “lifted” from German original pulp covers.
It was a great surprise for me when I visited in Germany a used book store to find many pulp issues with covers well known to me from Hebrew books which I assumed were Israeli original .
Science fiction and Perry rhodan
Along side the many western crime and spy stories Ramdor also published at the 60s some 4 sf titles which 3 of which were German titles.
thanks to the detective work of German sf fan wili Devo who had collebrated with me to find the source of those 3 forgotten sf books in Hebrew here the detailes :
One such book from 1961 by “Klif Hadigan” (Israeli invented pen name to German sf writer Walter Schwerdtfeger better known with the pen name Alan D. smith ) is called in translation Olamot Mitnakshim ” worlds in collision “ in German
Die Botschaft des Panergon
The novel describe a world in which there are two super powers , one of which is the west and the other one is a united Africa ruled from Egypt (!) by Arab dictator very clearly modeled on real life Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser .
The war between those super powers is decided by superior aliens which come to earth and decide to help to the west .
Another such book was :
“SPACE TREASURES “ by DIRK FICHERGRALD (again a israeli invented pen name to German sf writer "Clark Darlton" ) from 1963 and described the adventures of miners in the asteroids who are fighting corrupt space police men.
The original German SF book by Darlton is "
The best of thos books which was published at 1963 is called in translation INVASION FROM SPACE by “Sherman Denver “( Yet another Israeli invented pen name for sf German writer Walter Erensting best known as "Clark Darlton" to which the israeli publisher seemed to have some fondness ) Based on the GERMAN SF BOOK Zurück aus der Ewigkeit(Back from eternity)from Terra Sonderband 03, 13.06.1958
The novel describe how a human crew from Earth discovers on Sirius a ancient alien base still manned by robots survivors of ancient war ,in which the enemies were the fathers of the present human race , The ideas there of the “Ancient astronauts" are German.
Perry Rhodan in Hebrew
Ramdor was not the only Hebrew publisher of German Pulp literature
AT 1965 A publisher called SHACHAK had published the first 4 Perry rhodan issues and promised a fifth which was never published . the translation was from the original German as were the covers . Apparently this was the first translation of Rhodan stories to any language as the first translation known to the German publishers , French was at 1966 ,. Obviously it was a piratical translation and of very limited quantity . today those issues are among the rarest Hebrew sf items. I know on Just one collector which actually have all the 4 issues and nobody else has even one . even the national library ofIsraelwhich suppose to have all books published in Hebrew have only the first issue !
Rhodan had appeared in Hebrew again at 1979 and this time from RAMDOR. But the translations were not from the original German this time but from the American editions . There were Four volumes each includes 2 stories as in the first volumes of the American editions . As a result the stories of the first 2 volumes are actually the same of the 4 already published by shachak at the 60s only in different translation ,and the rest of the 2 volumes published published 4 more stories .
And with this is finished the story of Perry Rhodan in Israel,apparently it wasn’t successful enough .there is a curious side light to it though :THE WORLD ENCYCLOPEDY A OF COMICS claims that there is a Hebrew version of the German Rhodan comics . I however as a expert on Israeli comics know nothing about it ,and I think that either this info was a mistake or perhaps the rights of the German comics were sold to some Israeli who did nothing with them .
The closest thing to a Rhodan comics story in Hebrew was published at 1985 in children magazine called MISHMAR LEYLADIM . it was a space opera called in translation “The mysterious planet “ based on a sf novel Eisenfresser" (The Iron-Eater) written by Darlton ( the writer of Perry Rhodan ) and illustrated by Zorad a comics artist from Hungary.
The story was a typical space adventure of Darlton but Rhodan and Atlan dident appeared there.
More German pulp in Israel
The most successful German pulp series in Israel ever was the Larry Brent series of Dan shocker . 114 titles of which were published in Israel between 1971-1982 . some of which were actually Hebrew originals by Israeli writer which had wrote his own adventures of Larry Brent and co . these books are fondly remembered today and much sought after as they are quite rare. A whole chapter in my Hebrew book FROM TARZAN TO ZBENG )2003) devoted to this popular series And link to Hebrew article about them in the web is below .
Meanwhile German western continue to appear in the 70s from RAMDOR and perhaps some sf by writer called “roll birkanse “ 3 of his books appeared at 1979 may have been either by anonymous Hebrew writer or translations from German till the beginning of the 80s
The matter is still unknown.
At 1994 Shalgi who long stoped publish “regular” pulp for many years ,decided to try again with several reprints of his old pulp series this times as Hard backs not in the paperback format as was usual and those included a reprint of one of the ( worst ) Shocker books,it dident succeded .
A year latter at 1995 he tried yet again with new translations of G.P.UNGER westerns this time in a different format the “big” German pulp format , but again it didn’t succeeded and there were only some four such titles.
Also at 1995 Shalgi had published four new hard backs of Jery Koton which also dident got much notice . Shalgi ( who is still active after 45 years ) published since no more such stories This was really the end of Both westerns and pulp literature industry in general inIsrael.
German fantasy writer Michel Enda is quite popular inIsrael particularly in “never ending story “ as well as his other books.
German literary writer Gunter Grass is also well known in Israel and his fantasy works won much attention there though as works of literature not of fantasy . Another well known work of German literary fantasy in Israel is THE WANDERING JEW by Stefan Heim.
Also in recent years there were translated two historical fantasies of Harald Braem HEM –ON DER EGYPTER and his historical fantasy about Gilgamesh.
There were translated two fantasies of Christoper Ransmayar THE LAST WORLD and 2 mytological novels of Christa Wolf About Casandra and Madea as well the fantasy of Austrian writer about a woman cought in a glass sphere . ,but those are rare cases. Other wise new German and Austrian sf and. fantasy is almost unknown in Israel/
So it can be said that while many years High German literature was frown upon and actually forbidden i Israel , “low” pulp literature from Germany from Karl May and down to Dan Shocker was incredibly popular in Hebrew translation and had a decisive influence on original Hebrew pulp literature and art. For example there are much more German western in Hebrew then American westerns ,though most or all of the readers were unaware of the German origin of the stories and assumed that they were translation from English .the publisher chose never to enlighten them on this subject , though in the 70s it was “safe “ to admit that the Shocker series is “European “ that is German .
Thus, while quality German literature was still viewed as suspect and untouchable, light German literature flourished in Hebrew, although, for the most part, its true origin From Germany was not revealed.
Recently, another German series for youth, this time on soccer, was translated, but this series was Hebraized, with its setting and characters being made Israeli, and it no longer had any connection with Germany. Thus, it continues a long tradition of concealing the German origin of translated to of .popular literature translated to Hebrew