Feuchtwanger and Judaism, History, Imagination, Exile, ed. Paul Lerner and Frank Stern (the conference proceedings of the International Feuchtwanger Society 2015 conference) has been published by Peter Lang, with an accompanying launch event at the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library.

At the launch event

The Feuchtwanger and Judaism volume covers 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 Beginning with a selection of Feuchtwanger’s unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, the volume examines the author’s approaches to Jewish history, Zionism, Judaism’s relationship to early Christianity and to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 conference 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 an early-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?

— For analysis specifically of Jud Süss, see earlier conference (University of Amsterdam) entitled ‘The Many Guises of Jud Süss, The Image of “The Jew”: Joseph Süss Oppenheimer via Feuchtwanger to Goebbels and Beyond’.

bibliothek

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.

bibliothek_shelves

Clip: In the Learning Centre at the NS-Dokumentationszentrum. Edgar watching his 60-minute Zeitzeugeninterview

Recent scholarly publications in the field:
— Volker Weidermann, Das Buch der verbrannten Bücher (Cologne: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2008)

IW

In a talk given at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (University of London) in December 2015, International Feuchtwanger Society President Professor Ian Wallace returned to the subject of Lion Feuchtwanger’s British dimension, in particular the Edwin and Willa Muir translation of Jud Süss.

When the acclaimed translation appeared in 1926, it enjoyed extraordinary critical and commercial success and had a lasting impact on Lion Feuchtwanger’s international reputation. Three factors played a noteworthy part in the success: a seminal review by the eminent British novelist Arnold Bennett, the business acumen of the British publisher Martin Secker, and above all the much-praised skill of his Scottish translators.

Professor Wallace also pointed out the continuing need, almost a century after it was first published, both for an authoritative critical edition of the novel and also for a comparative study of the many translations which have subsequently appeared in a wide variety of languages.

My autographed copy of the Secker (1926) edition of Jew Süss

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.

Detlev Glanert’s contemporary opera Joseph Süss (1999), based on Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Jud Süss, was staged at Munich’s Gärtnerplatztheater in March 2012.

“Am Ende wird der Käfig in die Höhe gezogen, in ihm wird der Gehenkte zur Schau gestellt. Es ist Joseph Süss Oppenheimer. Als «Hofjude» wirkte er für den württembergischen Herzog Karl Alexander und wurde hingerichtet. «Finanzratte» wird er genannt und Frauenschänder: «Jud! Judas!» Davon handelt die Oper «Joseph Süss» von Detlev Glanert nach dem Roman «Jud Süss» von Lion Feuchtwanger. 1999 in Bremen aus der Taufe gehoben, kam sie nun am Gärtnerplatz zur Münchner Erstaufführung.”  Neue Zürcher Zeitung

A symposium entitled ‘The Many Guises of Jud Süss’, organized by Professor Evelien Gans, was held at the University of Amsterdam’s Menasseh Ben Israel Instituut from May 10th-12th 2012.

The Many Guises of Jud Süss
The Image of “The Jew”: Joseph Süss Oppenheimer via Feuchtwanger to Goebbels and Beyond

Prof. Dr. Evelien Gans (University of Amsterdam/NIOD): Short Introduction
Documentary Feuchtwanger lebt!  (Herbert Krill, 2008)
Prof. Dr. Frank Stern (Institut für Zeitgeschichte/Universität Wien)Challenging Anti-Humanism: Lion Feuchtwanger (1884-1958) as a Jewish-German Author


Prof. Dr. Evelien Gans (University of Amsterdam/NIOD)The Feuchtwanger Effect: Jew Süss as a Testing Ground for Anti- and Philo-semitic Stereotypes
Prof. Dr. Susan Tegel(orig. University of Hertfordshire): The Reincarnation of Jud Süss over Two Centuries
Jew Suess: A Film (1934) by Lothar Mendes
Prof. Dr. Susan Tegel: Short Introduction to Jud Süss (Veit Harlan, 1940)
 Jud Süss: A Film (1940) by Veit Harlan
Prof. Dr. Barbara von der Lühe(Institut für Sprache und Kommunikation/ Technische Universität Berlin): Afterlife and Aftermath. What Happened to Jud Süss after 1945?

home Menasseh ben Israel

Filmmaker Oskar Roehler

Veit Harlan’s 1940 propaganda film Jud Süss was the focal point of Oskar Roehler’s 2010 film Jud Süss – Film ohne Gewissen, starring Tobias Moretti, Martina Gedeck and Moritz Bleibtreu. Notwithstanding its A-list cast, Roehler’s film received scathing reviews for deviating from the facts–for example in Spiegel Online (“New ‘Jud Süss’ flops as Faustian tragedy“).

Interestingly, shortly before his death Lion Feuchtwanger entered into correspondence with London literary agency Curtis Brown about the possibility of a further cinematic version of the Joseph Süss Oppenheimer story. That is evident from the following 5th May 1958 letter which, thanks to a family connection, we recently unearthed in the Martin Secker Bridgefoot Archive.

Further viewing: Felix Moeller’s 2009 film Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Süss

Recent scholarly publications in the field: