“Few novels strike such a stark note of warning, or capture with such accuracy the perilous years of the rise of a dictatorship.” Financial Times

The Oppermanns, in the original 1933 James Cleugh translation (with minor adaptations), has been re-published by Persephone Books, London, with a preface and notes by Sir Richard Evans, Emeritus Regius Professor of History, Cambridge University.

Professor Evans points out that “the brutality and criminality of the regime were clear enough even in the first months of the Nazi dictatorship, and Feuchtwanger’s novel supplies unforgettable evidence of their extremism and their extent, as well as the complacency of so many people, including a substantial part of the Jewish community, who failed to realise what was happening until it was too late.”

He also notes that the novel is “all too relevant in the twenty-first century, as a warning against complacency in the face of lies and abuse, and a call for vigilance in the defence of democracy against those who would destroy it. It is the first great masterpiece of anti-fascist literature, and deserves to be as widely read today as it was on its original publication.”

— For a full analysis of the novel and its reception in 1933-34, see International Feuchtwanger Society Conference 2017.

Author and former Lion-Feuchtwanger-Gymnasium teacher Peter Thalheim

The Lion Feuchtwanger collection in the school library at the Lion-Feuchtwanger-Gymnasium in Munich has recently been expanded and now consists of no fewer than 120 items, writes Peter Thalheim, former teacher of Germanistik and history at the school and author of Die Geschwister Oppermann Oldenbourg Interpretationen study notes.

— Reader providing a general introduction to the author:

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 the conference was entitled  ‘Die Geschwister Oppermann: A German Jewish Family in Extremis’ (with accompanying image set). Die Geschwister Oppermann was written in Sanary-sur-Mer in 1933, at the start of Lion Feuchtwanger’s seven-year period of exile in France. It 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.

IFS 2017 Conference Program (Conference proceedings forthcoming 2020, Peter Lang)

In 1940, Lion Feuchtwanger was interned by Vichy France at the Les Milles camp (opening ceremony of the museum & memorial site at Les Milles). His account of internment, Der Teufel in Frankreich, was republished in English in 2009 by Figueroa Press/USC Libraries.

(click on image for full digital edition, including Marta Feuchtwanger’s account of how she and Lion made their escape from Europe in September 1940)

— Recent scholarly publications in the field:
Magali Nieradka-Steiner, Exil unter Palmen, Deutsche Emigranten in Sanary-sur-Mer (Darmstadt: Theiss, 2018)

Images from the International Feuchtwanger Society Conference 2013 in Berlin:

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 Edgar speaking at the Rotes Rathaus, recalling with mixed feelings his 1937 visit to the city

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IFS members Frank Stern, myself, and Jörg Thunecke: panel addressing the impact of various Lion Feuchtwanger works (in translation) in the US

Conference proceedings:

–> (from the jacket) Dieser Band vereint Forschungsbeiträge der 6. Konferenz der Internationalen Feuchtwanger Gesellschaft, die im Herbst 2013 zum Thema Lion Feuchtwangers Berliner Jahre 1925 bis 1933, seine Leser im Exil, in Deutschland und weltweit nach 1945 im Jüdischen Museum Berlin veranstaltet wurde. Die Konferenz hatte zum Ziel, die Bedeutung des Berliner Zwischenspiels im Leben Feuchtwangers im literarischen und soziopolitischen Kontext herauszuarbeiten, sowie eine Bestandsaufnahme der Rezeption seiner Werke im In- und Ausland zu erstellen. 

Neben Beiträgen zu den Romanen Jud SüßDie Geschwister OppermannDer Jüdische KriegGoya und Waffen für Amerika, zu den PEP-Gedichten und zu seiner Theaterarbeit beleuchtet dieser Band das intellektuelle Umfeld des Autors durch Aufsätze zu seinen Berliner Zeitgenossen Bertolt Brecht, Erich Kästner, Dorothy Thompson, Billy Wilder und Carl Zuckmayer. Vier der Aufsätze in diesem Band widmen sich weiteren Mitgliedern seiner Familie. 

Dem literarischen Erbe des Autors wird durch Beiträge zu seinem amerikanischen Verleger Ben Huebsch, zur heiklen Problematik der Übersetzungen seiner Werke sowie zur Frage seiner Einführung in den Bildungsbereich Rechnung getragen. Zwei Beiträge widmen sich dem damals wie heute kontrovers rezipierten sowjetischen Reisebericht Moskau 1937.

Durch seinen umfassenden Ansatz bietet dieser Band neue Einsichten in eine zentrale Periode der deutschen Kulturgeschichte und schließt eine Lücke in der Feuchtwanger-Forschung.

Actor and director Egon Monk (1927-2007)

Egon Monk’s 1983 film version of Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel  Die Geschwister Oppermann (1933) was reissued in December 2011 as part of a Die Welt series entitled Deutsche Geschichten. It is available with English subtitles here.

“Egon Monk überrascht in seinem viel gelobten ZDF-Fernsehzweiteiler Die Geschwister Oppermann nach dem Roman Lion Feuchtwangers nicht so sehr mit Fakten, die sind wohl bekannt. […] Monk zeigt die Zeitungsmeldungen, verharrt lange in den ungläubigen Gesichtern, die sie nicht glauben wollen. Es wird viel diskutiert, argumentiert, abgewogen in diesen ruhigen und doch so dramatischen 240 Minuten. Als endlich gehandelt wird, ist es schon zu spät.” Die Welt