Web portal in English providing an introduction to the author and his work, for researchers, journalists and students. All content on this site is provided for non-profit educational purposes. Site created and maintained by Dr. Adrian Feuchtwanger.
Feuchtwanger and Judaism, History, Imagination, Exile, ed. Paul Lerner and Frank Stern (the conference proceedings of the International Feuchtwanger Society 2015 conference) has just been published by Peter Lang, with a launch event at the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, USC. The volume is devoted to the Jewish themes that ran through Lion Feuchtwanger’s life, works and worlds. Beginning with a selection of Feuchtwanger’s unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, the volume examines the author’s approaches to Jewish history, Zionism, Judaism’s relationship to early Christianity and to Eastern religions, and Jewish identity through his works, above all historical fiction.
The volume includes my paper ‘Caught Between Cultures: Lion Feuchtwanger’s Flavius Josephus’. Lion Feuchtwanger’s 1932 novel Der jüdische Krieg portrays Flavius Josephus as a young man caught between the conflicting cultures of Rome and Jerusalem and forced to make difficult choices. The novel also makes an implicit comment on the precarious position of European Jews in the early 1930s. In the paper I outline the principal elements and themes of the novel, and place it in the context of other German literary works of the period, in particular Hanns Johst’s Nazi play Schlageter. That play can fruitfully be lined up alongside Der jüdische Krieg since, like Feuchtwanger’s novel, it explores the psychology of a young man’s attitudes towards war and patriotism. Johst raises some of the same questions as Feuchtwanger, but from a proto-Nazi perspective: should a young man’s loyalty to his country override all other concerns, or should loyalty to values matter more? What kind of values matter, and in what kind of a nation?
Between 1920 and 1933 Lion Feuchtwanger published four works—one satirical short story and three novels—in which he addressed the subject of antisemitism in Germany. In the third of these works, Erfolg (1930), he exposed antisemitism in Bavarian politics and society, satirized the emerging NSDAP, and drew attention to the increasing politicization of Bavaria’s judicial and penal system, as well as providing a compelling fictionalized account of the 1923 Munich Putsch.
Although the novel helped garner Lion Feuchtwanger a Nobel Prize for Literature nomination in 1930, it put him as well as other family members in the crosshairs of the Nazi press. After the war the novel endured a mixed reception, but nowadays it is highly regarded, especially in Bavaria.
In the paper I traced the theme of antisemitism in the novel, described how the publication of the novel affected other family members, and pointed out that a comprehensive German Jewish studies interpretation of the novel would be a welcome addition to the existing secondary literature.
A theatrical production of Exil, directed by Stefan Pucher, has opened at the Munich Kammerspiele, with an accompanying reading of correspondence between Lion Feuchtwanger and fellow exiled Jewish author Arnold Zweig.
“Edgar plays with toys, listens to his mother playing piano, and eavesdrops on adult conversations between his father (the director of an academic publishing house) and his famous uncle, author Lion Feuchtwanger. […] An exceptionally powerful and emotionally charged story.” New York Journal of Books
“The title of this memoir says it all. A young Jewish boy growing up in Munich in the 1930s, Feuchtwanger writes about living across the street from Hitler, the future mass murderer he could see through his window.” New York Times Book Reviews, New and Noteworthy
The International Feuchtwanger Society Conference 2017, with the title ‘France as Host Country to German-speaking (in particular German-Jewish and Austrian-Jewish) Emigrés between 1933 and 1940: Forms and Media of Public Memory Culture’ was held in Paris from October 12th -14th 2017. My paper for this conference, entitled ‘Die Geschwister Oppermann: A German Jewish Family in Extremis’ is available here (with accompanying image set).
Die Geschwister Oppermann (1933) was the first novel by a prominent international author to provide readers outside Germany with a full account of conditions inside the Third Reich. Written as an act of resistance to the developments unfolding in Germany, it is an important and compelling work which won plaudits from reviewers and fellow authors at the time, and has been well received by critics and biographers ever since. The situation faced by the fictional Oppermann family mirrored that of the Feuchtwanger family as the Nazi dictatorship took hold.
For information on Lion Feuchtwanger’s internment in the Les Milles camp in 1940, see earlier post about the new museum & memorial site at Les Milles, which includes a link to a full digital edition of The Devil in France (English translation of Der Teufel in Frankreich (Los Angeles: USC Libraries, 2009)).
— The Oppermanns (English translation of Die Geschwister Oppermann) (New York: Avalon Publishing Group, 2001)
And Ian Wallace, Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Bath and President of the International Feuchtwanger Society, writing for the Forgotten Gems section of the website New Books in German, admires Die Jüdin von Toledo for its portrayal of the mindset behind holy war (a matter of great concern today).
With Edgar at The Library of Burned and Banned Books at Munich’s new NS-Dokumentationszentrum. The Drei Masken Verlag first edition of Jud Süss (1925) is easily identifiable by its yellow jacket (top shelf). The total print run of the novel in German up until 1933 was 200,000; in other European languages (English, French and a dozen others), Yiddish and Hebrew it was 638,000.
Erlebte Geschichten, Edgar Feuchtwanger, hosted by Ingo Zander. Minute 6.40: Edgar recalls day-to-day life living opposite Hitler, who was — fortunately, needless to say — unaware that Edgar and his family were the closest relatives of one of the Nazis’ most vocal public enemies (Lion Feuchtwanger).