A new book about Jewish-American author JD Salinger released on Tuesday claims that the famed author of the novel The Catcher in the Rye divorced his first wife when he found out she was formerly a Gestapo informant.
According to David Shields and Shane Salerno, the authors of Salinger, the novelist broke up with his first wife, half-German, half-French Sylvia Welter when he learned of her war-time activities, by leaving an airline ticket back to Germany on her breakfast plate.
Andrew Romano of the Daily Beast and Newsweek, wrote that the newly disclosed information is largely speculative.
To support their case, the book’s authors obtained a copy of the official annulment, which accuses Welter of ‘bad intentions’ and ‘false representations.’ They have included a comment from Salinger friend Leila Hadley Luce, in which Luce claims that Salinger had found out some disturbing things about what [Welter] did in the war, specifically with the Gestapo. And they have commissioned a new investigation by consultant Eberhard Alsen, who uncovered ‘strange facts about Sylvia’s life that suggest she might have been a Gestapo informant.’ Incidentally, Salinger’s parents—his Jewish father and converted mother—were convinced at the time that Welter was an anti-Semite.
A new film about the reclusive writer, written and directed by Salerno, is also set to be released on Friday.
Salinger, whose mother was not of Jewish lineage but converted, and whose father was a Jewish kosher grocer, was raised as a Jew. Following the runaway success of The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger retreated to New Hampshire, delivering only two more books to the public before ceasing to publish altogether in the 1960s. He died in 2010.
The trailer for the Salinger film can be viewed below: