Passionate Publishers traces the lives of the German Jewish refugee-émigré founders of the Black Star photo agency—Ernest Mayer, Kurt Safranski, and Kurt Kornfeld—whose expertise helped ignite a revolution in photojournalism.
The first half of the book lays the groundwork for understanding how Black Star’s founders could play such a key role in photojournalism. The author reconstructs their history in Germany before and during World War I and details their accomplishments in Berlin’s dynamic Weimar-era publishing industry.
The journey into exile of Safranski, Mayer, and Kornfeld, their influence on the editors of Life, the first decade of Black Star, and the most notable post-World War II experiences of the photo agency’s founders are the focus of the second half of the book.
Family and governmental archives provide extensive new information about the three men and reveal harrowing investigations by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, which believed Black Star’s founders to be spies or agents of a foreign government. The author argues that the refugee-émigrés successfully contested the never substantiated allegations on account of their strong views relating to the freedom of the press and the malevolence of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.