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Feuchtwanger and Judaism

History, Imagination, Exile


Edited By Paul Lerner and Frank Stern

This collection of essays is devoted to 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 Beginning with a selection of Feuchtwanger’s unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, the volume examines the author’s approaches to Jewish history, Zionism, Judaism’s relationship to early Christianity and to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 his historical fiction. Essays also trace translations of his works into English and Russian, and the meaning of his writing for various communities of Jewish and non-Jewish readers in Britain, North America, and the Soviet Union. A final section frames the issues around Feuchtwanger and Jewishness more broadly by considering the condition of exile and expanding the focus to communities of émigré writers and political figures in North America and beyond.
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8 Lion Feuchtwanger and the Question of Jewish Identity in Stalinist Russia (Anne Hartmann)


Anne Hartmann

8 Lion Feuchtwanger and the Question of Jewish Identity in Stalinist Russia


Lion Feuchtwanger’s trip to Moscow in the winter of 1936/7 has been the subject of intensive research. It is therefore astonishing that until now little attention has been given to his role as a Jewish writer in the Stalinist society which officially banned antisemitism but latently nourished it. This paper tries to explore the complex situation in the 1930s including a short overview of Soviet politics towards Jews since the revolution and in the postwar period. In his travelogue Moscow 1937 Feuchtwanger confirms, that in the Soviet Union the Jewish question has been solved, but the campaign against cosmopolitism in the late 1940s affected him personally.1

During his by now legendary stay in Moscow in the winter of 1936/7, Lion Feuchtwanger was asked whether he was “a Jewish, a German or a cosmopolitan writer”. He answered: “My mind is international, my heart is Jewish”.2 And: “I am German by language, internationalist in my convictions and Jewish by feeling.”3 Nor was this the first time he referred to himself in this manner. In the epilogue to Jew Suess Feuchtwanger writes: “My mind thinks like a cosmopolitan, my heart beats Jewish”;4 and similar such utterances thereafter. So what impression did Feuchtwanger leave with Stalin’s Russia when he unabashedly declared himself a “Jewish writer←165 | 166→ with a cosmopolitan heart”,5 as the writer Hugo Huppert would...

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