Edgar Feuchtwanger Recalls Living Across The Street From Adolf Hitler

Jewish Historian Truly Had the Neighbor From Hell

Recalling a Munich Nightmare: Edgar Feuchtwanger, 88, has recently published a memoir about his boyhood.
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Recalling a Munich Nightmare: Edgar Feuchtwanger, 88, has recently published a memoir about his boyhood.

By Benjamin Ivry

Published May 30, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
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Edgar’s father also noted with disdain that to avoid being importuned by worshipful female admirers, the “coward” Hitler put Winter, his housemaid’s name, on the building directory instead of his own. Having fought in the trenches in World War I on the German side, as did Hitler, Ludwig Feuchtwanger, Edgar’s father, failed to see why the politician should be “afraid of his own shadow,” to which Uncle Lion replied:

“Ah yes, the trenches! [Hitler] whines about them all through his deadly dull tome, ‘Mein Kampf.’ He moans. He laments. He screams. One can imagine him writing the book while rolling around the floor like a brat.”

Hitler’s presence on Grillparzer Street was seen by the Feuchtwangers as a canny move to blend into a comfortable neighborhood, as if he were nothing more than an upwardly mobile leader. Yet the Feuchtwanger family was not deceived, nor were their house employees, including Rosie, Edgar’s nanny.

She reported gossip related by the milkman that Hitler’s daily order of dairy products was so substantial that there was not enough milk to satisfy demand in the rest of the neighborhood. Edgar’s father wryly discounted this allegation, on the grounds that it would be impossible to requisition that much milk, and besides, it would only be good news if Hitler really did drink that much milk, “since it would kill him.”

Edgar and Rosie frequently passed Hitler in the street, when he was waiting for his chauffeured car, and the boy stared boldly, noting that Hitler “has slightly cut himself shaving, which sometimes happens to my father.” For her part, Rosie was mainly concerned to hurry her charge past the armed guards in front of Hitler’s home; she was a member of the Spartacus League (Spartakusbund), a Marxist revolutionary movement organized during World War I by Rosa Luxemburg and others.

After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, the danger became even clearer, although the Feuchtwanger family was stymied about where to find refuge. Edgar’s father made a special trip to relatives who lived in Talpiot, a neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem established in 1922, yet reported that the conditions of life there were too difficult, and feared that young Edgar would not receive a satisfactory education.


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