Professor Anne Hartmann will return to the subject of Lion Feuchtwanger and Stalin this week at the Literaturhaus Berlin:
A co-operation of Villa Aurora and Literaturhaus Berlin
in celebration of Feuchtwanger’s 130th birthday
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 8 pm
Lion Feuchtwanger in Moscow in 1937
“To understand Stalin – was that at all possible for a western intellectual, who paid him a visit in the Soviet Union in the 1930s? What was it that Feuchtwanger grasped, when he sat face to face with the dictator on January 8th, 1937? How far reaching was his insight and knowledge about that radically foreign society?
In his travel log of 1937, Feuchtwanger shows considerable appreciation for Stalin and his policies. He ends his book with a triple, enthusiastic YES for the USSR praising its social order and even justifying its show trials. The political reasons are obvious. Forced into exile, by the Hitler regime, the German-Jewish author hoped, the Soviet Union would offer the fierce resistance to the National Socialists, which was sadly missing among the western democracies.
But other motives may be worth mentioning. There are irritations, contradictions and cracks detectable under the smooth surface of his travel log. Those will be the focus of the lecture which will also discuss the limits of understanding and sympathy. It includes the question as to why Feuchtwanger stuck staunchly to his vision of the Soviet realities until his death in 1958.” Anne Hartmann