Art historian Dr. Roland Jaeger‘s article on Lion Feuchtwanger’s brother Martin Feuchtwanger, including an account of Martin’s career as a journalist and publisher and his subsequent narrow escape from Nazi-occupied Prague, has been published in Aus dem Antiquariat 2/2016.


— Martin Feuchtwanger’s memoir:  Zukunft ist ein blindes Spiel (Berlin: Aufbau Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999)

Of Lion Feuchtwanger’s four brothers, Martin was the third, while the youngest among the brothers was Berthold.

Berthold in World War I, with Iron Cross First Class

Berthold is described as follows by Edgar in his memoir I was Hitler’s Neighbour (London: Bretwalda 2015, 42-3): “In Munich’s Café Stefanie, a haunt of my father’s, in the early days of the Third Reich one could still read the foreign newspapers. Uncle Berthold would often join us there and talk a lot of politics. It was conspiracy theory sort of stuff, how the Dutch oil magnate Deterding was financing this, that and the other, that was really behind it all, and a lot more in this vein. I can now see that Uncle Berthold was rather typical of the front-line generation, the men who had spent the formative years of their lives fighting in the trenches. Had he not been Jewish and not been a Feuchtwanger he might have talked similarly alongside Hitler and his cronies in a beer cellar not far from our coffeehouse.”

Edgar goes on: “Unfortunately there were rather too many men in Germany whose lives had been totally disrupted by the war, who could never fully adjust to civilian life and who suffered from disorientation in the defeated and humiliated country. It looked at this point in time as if it had all been in vain and they were looking for a meaning. There is a mention of Uncle Berthold in the autobiography of Weiss Ferdl, the most famous Munich comedian besides Karl Valentin. He records an occasion when he had been engaged to appear at one of the meetings of the early Nazi party. After his act Weiss Ferdl was taken to Hitler’s table and heard, from what was being said, that the Nazi leader had claimed in his speech that evening that Jews could not be soldiers as they lacked the necessary courage. Weiss Ferdl then mentioned Berthold Feuchtwanger, whom he called a brother or cousin of the famous writer Lion, author of Jew Süss. He said that Berthold had been a corporal in his company, had always volunteered for dangerous patrols, and had been awarded the Iron Cross First Class as early as May 1915. Hitler brushed this aside by saying “the exception proves the rule”. How much of the story is pure truth, how much embellishment, is difficult to make out. In the post-war era, Weiss Ferdl, like everybody else, was anxious to show that he had never fallen under Hitler’s spell.”

Berthold’s grave in Bogotá

Recent scholarly publications in the field:

— Heike Specht, Die Feuchtwangers. Familie, Tradition und jüdisches Selbstverständnis (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2006)

Leave a Reply