History, Imagination, Exile
Edited By Paul Lerner and Frank Stern
1 Lion Feuchtwanger’s Jewish Historical Consciousness in America (Margrit Frölich)
1 Lion Feuchtwanger’s Jewish Historical Consciousness in America
The following text explores Feuchtwanger’s essays and public speeches from the 1930s and 1940s until his death in 1958 in light of what they reveal about his relationship to his Jewishness and Judaism. I will also demonstrate how Feuchtwanger’s public commitment to Jewish causes and his efforts to raise public awareness about the political situation in Europe and the entrapment of Jews under Nazi rule became a prominent feature of his activities after his arrival in the United States in October 1940.
Jewish experience, along with its cultural and religious foundations, is a prime subject throughout Feuchtwanger’s literary work, and it is also a prominent theme in many of his essays and public speeches.1 Feuchtwanger’s essayistic reflections demonstrate that although he detached himself as a young man from the Jewish orthodoxy of his upbringing, his intellectual engagement with Judaism remained a lifelong dedication.2 His essays and public addresses from the 1930s and 1940s also show the role Jewishness played for him until his death in Los Angeles in 1958. They demonstrate that Feuchtwanger’s commitment to history and politics, in particular his←17 | 18→ determination to fight against National Socialism and speak on behalf of Jewish causes, gained a heightened sense of urgency in light of the political events in Europe, and notably after his arrival in the United States in October 1940. Some essays in which Feuchtwanger developed his key...
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