Lion Feuchtwanger’s diaries, recently published by Aufbau Verlag, have been reviewed in a very broad range of mainstream media — testimony to the sheer breadth of interest in his writings:

“Feuchtwanger ohne Filter.” Klaus Modick, author of Sunset.

Audio book link

Events:

Literaturhaus Munich, ‘Lion Feuchtwanger, Die Tagebuecher’ event, 25th November 2018
Image credit: Tanja Kinkel

Hitler, My Neighbor was published by Other Press (New York) in November 2017, with accompanying excerpts in Time (online) and People (online).

Covering the period 1929-39, the book is an account of the everyday life of Edgar’s family at their Munich apartment, directly opposite the private apartment of Hitler. Edgar watches as events unfold beneath his window.

“The title of this memoir says it all. A young Jewish boy growing up in Munich in the 1930s, Edgar 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

“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

Television and film:

Further resources:

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 Spring 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 below for full digital edition).

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

Some recent items in mainstream media discussing the quality of Lion Feuchtwanger’s works and their place in “the canon”:

Literaturpapst Marcel Reich-Ranicki rightly includes Höhenflugrekord, a classic of the Neue Sachlichkeit, in his influential Der Kanon–Erzählungen . In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 2010, however, he argued that Feuchtwanger’s writing was sometimes “gaudy”.

Micha Brumlik, professor of education at the University of Frankfurt, writing in the Jüdische Allgemeine in 2013, values in particular the contemporary relevance of Der jüdische Krieg.

Bayerischer Rundfunk, on the occasion of its 2014 rerun of Dietrich Leube’s TV documentary Lion Feuchtwanger: Geachtet & geächtet, argued that it was with Erfolg that Lion Feuchtwanger staked his claim to immortality.

 

And Ian Wallace, Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Bath and former 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).

Ample evidence that Lion Feuchtwanger’s work was much admired by fellow writers in exile from Nazi Germany, among them Thomas Mann, can be found in the Lion Feuchtwanger 60th birthday book.

(click on image for table of contents)

The Lion Feuchtwanger 60th birthday book was originally published on July 7th 1944, and excerpts were re-published in English by USC Libraries/Villa Aurora in 2014. On June 7th 1944 Thomas Mann sent the following letter for inclusion in the book:

Pacific Palisades, June 7th, 1944

“Dear Lion Feuchtwanger,

I find it rather amusing that I’m sending you greetings for your 60th birthday on this handmade paper via New York, since we are, after all, neighbours on this slightly unreal coast and I often have the pleasure of seeing you in person anyway. Actually there’s nothing to stop me visiting you at your castle by the sea on July 7th, so that I may shake my young colleague encouragingly by the hand (my God, I was already 60 at the point when Hitler was embarking on his sins). That will be better than writing to you. However, I do not wish to be absent, nor will I be permitted to be, when the literary world pays you collective homage and your richly blessed life is assembled between the handsome covers of a volume, even though on birthdays one would prefer not to be what one usually is—a writer required to formulate everything with great art and precision.

Allow me, then, to be brief and sincere! This will be more of a handshake than a birthday essay. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m fond of you, and am always eager to chat when we meet socially. This is easy to explain. You are a likeable, cheerfully communicative, and — if you’ll forgive the expression! — ingenuous fellow, whose Munich manner of speaking makes people comfortable; you are also a knowledgeable, experienced man from whom one can learn something; and behind your personality lies a body of work that is diverse, energetic, rich in characters, well researched, astute in its critique of our era, and felicitous. Since the beginning, your work has been well received in many parts of the world, first in Germany, then outside it in both East and West, and in Russia and the Anglo-Saxon countries. I heard it with my own ears in England: ‘It’s almost as good as Feuchtwanger’ was true praise indeed.

I have always admired your existence. You were born to happiness and success, and they will not desert you. You are a comforting example of how a cheerful approach to individual destiny can triumph over the gloom of circumstance. Our era has treated you badly, as it has all of us. You have suffered losses and affronts, been uprooted and endangered — yet I have never heard you talk about any of this without laughter in your voice. It has all turned out well for you. I believe you were the first of the emigrés to acquire a suitably impressive house: in Sanary-sur-Mer, where we spent those first few months following our discharge as German writers. I would have loved to have brought Goebbels to your house and shown him the view, to enrage him. Now, prolific as ever, as an honored guest of this expansive but cosy country, you are waiting for the mindless episode which refers to itself as National Socialization and which you have done, you may say, your best to avoid, to come to an end. You are only 60, you spry young thing. Unlike the undersigned you’ll be able to adjust gradually to what comes next. Whether I’ll be missing out on much need not be addressed here. Provided things turn out as anticipated, we will all live to see, and celebrate together, the ignominious end of the murderous lunacy that drove us out of Germany; and each of us, when the time comes, will leave this life safe in the knowledge that on this star with which we were briefly acquainted, though not everything is, to put it mildly, entirely flawless, the most idiotic, most despicable aspects lasted no longer than perhaps a dozen years.

Yours,

Thomas Mann”

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)

Recent television re-runs of note:

On ARD: Michael Verhoeven’s film Menschliches Versagen (includes a part about the Feuchtwanger family):

michael-verhoeven

michael-verhoeven_menschliches-versagen

The photo above is of the passport held by Edgar at age 14.

And the re-run of Barbara Schepanek’s 2015 TV documentary Schatten über München, which uses Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Erfolg (1930) as a springboard for its account of the beginnings of the Nazi movement in Munich:

barbara-schepanek

barbara-schepanek_schatten-ueber-muenchen

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.

RJ_AdA

— 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)