Hitler, my neighbor

Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939

An eminent historian’s account of the Nazi rise to power from his unique perspective, that of a Jewish boy in Munich, living with Adolf Hitler as his neighbor.

Edgar Feuchtwanger came from a prominent German Jewish family, the only son of a respected editor and the nephew of the writer Lion Feuchtwanger. He was a carefree five-year-old, pampered by his parents and his nanny, when Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party, moved into the building across the street in Munich.

In 1933 his happy young life was shattered. Hitler had been named Chancellor. Edgar’s parents, stripped of their rights as citizens, tried to protect him from increasingly degrading realities. In class, his teacher had him draw swastikas, and his schoolmates joined the Hitler Youth.

Watching events unfold from his window, Edgar bore witness to the Night of the Long Knives, the Anschluss, and Kristallnacht. Jews were arrested; his father was imprisoned at Dachau. In 1939 Edgar was sent on his own to England, where he would make a new life, a career, have a family, and try to forget the nightmare of his past—a past that came rushing back when he decided, at the age of eighty-eight, to tell the story of his buried childhood and his infamous neighbor.

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Critiques :Editorial Reviews a écrit:

“The title says it all. A young Jewish boy growing up in Munich in the 1930s, Feuchtwanger writes about living across the street from Hitler, the future mass murderer he could see through his window.” —NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“Composed of diaristic vignettes, Hitler, My Neighbor offers a singular portrait of 1930s Germany, unique both for its intimate glimpses of Hitler in semi-private moments and for its point of view. The narrative unfolds from a child’s perspective but benefits from an adult historian’s attention to detail.” —NEWSWEEK

“Remarkable." —MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

“An intimate look at the horror wrought by Hitler.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Feuchtwanger is an excellent writer. He wisely focuses on the senses, an especially significant technique for authors of childhood experiences. He sees the world through the eyes of a child, yet delivers from the aspect of an adult trained in writing history. The result is an exceptionally powerful and emotionally charged story." —NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS

“HITLER, MY NEIGHBOR is a rare look at the conflicted, often horrifying childhood of a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany.” —BOOKREPORTER

“Edgar Feuchtwanger’s captivating memoir brings an enigmatic and terrifying neighbor—glimpsed through a child’s eyes—into the heart of a Jewish family’s home life, where discussions revolve around how to make sense of Germany’s descent into fascism and, ultimately, how to survive it. —Despina Stratigakos, author of Hitler at Home

Amazon Customer Reviews au sujet deAmazon a écrit:

H. Laack - VINE VOICE
5.0 out of 5 stars
Growing up with the man who would kill you and your family just across the street - October 3, 2017

Every year that passes, more people who lived through the experiences leading up to World II pass away, all too often their personal experiences dying with them. And as these personal narratives are lost, some of the "Holocause deniers" and other revisionists may gain more traction.

5.0 out of 5 starsReaders who, for age or other reasons, are distanced from the Nazi era would do well to read Feuchtwanger’s memoir
ByBookreporteron November 15, 2017

HITLER, MY NEIGHBOR is a rare look at the conflicted, often horrifying childhood of a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany, but not just any Jewish boy. Edgar Feuchtwanger lived across the street from Adolf Hitler.

Edgar was the son of Ludwig Feuchtwanger and nephew of Lion Feuchtwanger, both men well-known Jewish intellectuals and writers whose family had resided in Germany since the 1500s. He recalled hearing about Hitler from the age of five, in 1929, when the leader of the Nazi Party moved into an apartment across the street.

The book is styled as a series of observations by a child who gradually grows in understanding as circumstances around him rapidly change. He knows that somehow these changes occur because of his enigmatic neighbor. Hitler has seized power, imposing his worldview on all Germans, even the boy’s schoolmates. Edgar hears his parents discussing whether or not to flee the country, discussions that grow gradually more fraught, even frantic at times. The little boy longs to tell his classmates that it’s the Romans, not the Jews, who betrayed Jesus, hopes to try out for the Olympics, and wants to be a proud German soldier someday. Even the grown-ups hold out hope that Hitler will not target Jews for his hate-filled policies.

But terrible things keep happening. A friend of Ludwig is forced to carry a sign that reads, “I’m a Jew and I’ll never criticize the police again.” Lion's house is ransacked, and he and his wife are forced to leave the country. There are major events that the child is aware of without knowing their full significance: the Night of the Long Knives and Kristallnacht. Edgar is crushed when his beloved nanny leaves because it is now unlawful for her to tend to a Jewish family. Ludwig loses his job. Friends and relatives begin to emigrate as the laws of the land become overtly anti-Jewish. Edgar gives up on convincing his former school friends that the rapidly spreading propaganda about Jews isn’t true. His world comes crashing down when Ludwig is carried off to Dachau.

Feuchtwanger’s childhood recollections were told to French journalist Bertil Scali in 2012 when he was 88. His book was first published in France in 2013, and now has been rendered into English by award-winning translator Adriana Hunter. Chapters begin with eerie quotations from MEIN KAMPF in which Hitler chronicles his visceral, racist hatred of Jews --- not only their religion but also their appearance and mannerisms --- reminding readers of the way the evil roots of Nazism mushroomed in the mind of a deranged dictator.

Scali stated that the elderly Feuchtwanger finally agreed to share his memories when he began to “think about eternity.” Readers who, for age or other reasons, are distanced from the Nazi era would do well to read Feuchtwanger’s memoir, follow his example to consider eternal truths, and resolve never to forget.
Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

5.0 out of 5 stars
Growing up with the man who would kill you and your family just across the street
ByH. LaackVINE VOICEon October 3, 2017
Every year that passes, more people who lived through the experiences leading up to World II pass away, all too often their personal experiences dying with them. And as these personal narratives are lost, some of the "Holocause deniers" and other revisionists may gain more traction.

More than ever then, Edgar Feuchtwanger's boyhood memories are even more critical to read, remember, and share. Living across the street from Adolph Hitler seems almost too surreal to be believed; to be that close a neighbor and one of Hitler's hated Jews is even more incredible to consider. And yet, here is a simple tale, quickly read and long to be remembered. From his early elementary years, when he dutifully listened to his teacher and drew swastikas and victorious pictures of all things Aryan to the beginning of his adolescence when his school boy friends no longer speak to him and his family has more and more rights and belongings taken away, these critical ten years of Feuchtwanger's life are masterfully narrated.

This is a memoir written for adults, yet I would highly recommend it for high schoolers, even middle school kids who are beginning to show an interest in history. This is definitely a must read for anyone who does not want this important, though horrific, part of history to fade away.

wogan - TOP 500 REVIEWER
5.0 out of 5 starsThe neighbor
October 30, 2017
Edgar Feuchtwanger grew up across the street in Munich from Hitler. His family were non-practicing Jews. His family was well off and this is a book of his remembrances from when 1929 until he left for England just months before the Germans invaded Poland.

The language is simple and many can remember events from when they were 5 especially those that bore a big impact on his family and conversations he heard around him. Children often see what adults do not and this is an insight into those years before war was declared and so many laws were enacted against those of the Jewish religion.

So we see a story of life of one who was not burdened with jobs or the heaviness of world news. It’s a fascinating recollection.

ByDavid H. BirleyVINE VOICEon October 13, 2017
Beautifully written, a chilling story of the early years of the Nazi Party in Germany and its leader Adolf Hitler. Set in a year by year mode as the chapters, we see through the eyes of a five-year old at the beginning, 1929, then as the story of Jews in Nazi Germany evolves, and the power and strength of the Nazi Party grows, the growing child sees and hears things that become at once more confusing and more frightening.

5.0 out of 5 starsLiving history at its best.
ByDavid H. BirleyVINE VOICEon October 13, 2017
Beautifully written, a chilling story of the early years of the Nazi Party in Germany and its leader Adolf Hitler. Set in a year by year mode as the chapters, we see through the eyes of a five-year old at the beginning, 1929, then as the story of Jews in Nazi Germany evolves, and the power and strength of the Nazi Party grows, the growing child sees and hears things that become at once more confusing and more frightening.

4.0 out of 5 starsthe decline into Nazi brutality and murder through the eyes of a child
ByK. Kennedyon December 13, 2017
"Hitler, My Neighbor" by Edgar Feuchtwanger is the story of Germany's downward spiral into depravity and inhumanity under the Nazis, as told by a child who just happened to have Adolf Hitler for a neighbor. The changes in people and society as a whole as time goes by are gradual, but shocking, and the child tries to understand it all. The parallels to today are striking and frightening, and having this awful slice of history told from a child's viewpoint really demonstrates the confusion and helplessness that many must have felt during those years. This is a fantastic book.

4.0 out of 5 starsUnsettling
ByAnAmazonCustomerVINE VOICEon October 16, 2017
This is a unique perspective on growing up as a Jewish boy who lived across the street from (of all people), Hitler. It's difficult to even imagine and often difficult to determine what is memory versus artistic license especially in the early years. Having said that, I'm not really sure what to make of the book - it is filled with mundane childhood memories that might be similar to those of anyone else with the added poignancy of taking place under what can only be described as an existential threat which permeates every aspect of life. Even removing the literal threat from the situation, there is a level of discomfort, distrust and dissatisfaction underlying everything. It's the eerily ordinary life combined with the very real overhaul of society taking place simultaneously that leaves the reader with a decidedly unsettled feeling start to finish.
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5.0 out of 5 starsThere Goes The Neighborhood . . . .
BySundayAtDuskVINE VOICEon October 12, 2017
The main theme of this book sounds like something a Jewish comedienne in the 1960s could have created. ("Hey, did I tell you Hitler lived across the street from me when I was growing up in Germany in the 1930s? Seriously, it's true! Ask my mother! I can't tell you how many times she told me 'Do not trample on the flowers in Herr Hitler's yard'!") Of course, being a Jewish child living so close to Hitler was anything but funny during the 1930s, yet this is not a book of constant fear or terror. Mr. Feuchtwanger begins the story when he was five and ends it when he was 15. Until the Jews started to be openly persecuted in Germany, he had a very happy childhood and much of the book is about that. Even when school assignments had him drawing swastikas, he still saw himself as fitting in with the other kids and having a future life in Germany.

His editor father also obviously had great difficulty picturing the family living elsewhere. He did go to Palestine to investigate the possibility of moving there, but working the land seemed too foreign to him, and he could not imagine his family living that way. Life got much worse, though, and the man across the street was too much a reminder about how dangerous Germany had become, so Edgar Feuchtwanger was sent to England. By that time, he was more than happy to leave, and he would never forget seeing Hitler in and out of his residence, seeing those who came to visit him, and seeing those in the street trying to get Hitler's attention. While there is both a 5-page epilogue and a 7-page "What Became Of Them?" chapter at the end of the book, much more about Mr. Feuchtwanger's new life in England can be found in his earlier 2015 memoir I Was Hitler's Neighbour.

Goodreads au sujet dehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34144587-hitler-my-neighbor a écrit:

Nissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography, history, memoir, novel, non-fiction, literary, contemporary, war, historical-nonfiction, literary-nonfiction, survival, european-history, european-literature, stand-alone-novel, adult-nonfiction, german-literature, 20th-century, ww2, holocaust, jewish-literature, nazi-party, fascism
Excellent read. Fast paced, historical in content. Worth the read. Would recommend as reading material for middle school students. If you like WWII history you will enjoy this book.

Nancy
Oct 31, 2017 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Truly a unique insight into Hitler’s Nazi Germany through the eyes of a child that lived across the street from Hitler. A Jewish Child that also recalls the changes made in textbooks, curriculum, and teachers as Hitler gained power and their family fell from societal grace. Very well written. Very much enjoyed it.

SundayAtDusk
Oct 12, 2017 SundayAtDusk rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-wwii, memoirs, jewish, history-holocaust, history-nazis
The main theme of this book sounds like something a Jewish comedienne in the 1960s could have created. ("Hey, did I tell you Hitler lived across the street from me when I was growing up in Germany during the 1930s? Seriously, it's true! Ask my mother! I can't tell you how many times she told me 'Do not trample on the flowers in Herr Hitler's yard'!") Of course, being a Jewish child living so close to Hitler was anything but funny during the 1930s, yet this is not a book of constant fear or terro ...more

Michelle Kidwell
Nov 07, 2017 Michelle Kidwell rated it it was amazing

Hitler, My Neighbor
Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939
by Edgar Feuchtwanger, Bertil Scali

Other Press

Biographies & Memoirs

Pub Date 07 Nov 2017

I am reviewing a copy of Hitler, My Neighbor through Other Press and Netgalley:

In 1933 the joy of Edgar Feuchtwanger untroubled life comes to an end. He is the only son of a respected editor and the nephew of best selling author Lion Feuchtwanger, but he is a Jew and in 1933 when Hitler is named Chancellor his family looses all rights.

Edgar was only nine when Hitler came into power, destroying his life, his families life. At nine he was stripped of his childhood.

Edgar’s Father would spend several weeks in Dachau and would eventually go home, in 1939 Edgar would be approved to go to England and a few weeks later his parents would be approved.

I give Hitler, My Neighbor five out of five stars!

Lea ★
Oct 31, 2017 Lea ★ rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, biography, memoir, world-war-ii
ARC provided by the publisher VIA NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Hitler, My neighbor is a novel, originally published in French (Hitler, mon voisin – Souvenirs d'un enfant juif ), in 2013, revolving around a young boy who lived in Munich, very near to the house where Adolf Hitler lived at the time. The timeline covers one part of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (early 30's) in Germany.
In his memoir, Freuchtwanger describes his brief childhood encounters with the Führer during the years they were neighbors.
This was definitely a poweful and interseting read.
It provides an overview of the elements of a child standpoint on the change that was unfortunately coming, and even though the events that followed marked one of the darkest periods of human existence, I still liked that child's voice, because it somehow made this book a bit lighter. (less)

Ilana
Nov 27, 2017 Ilana rated it really liked it
Written from the point of view of the child that he was during the hardest years of the Nazi regime in Germany, this memoir is an interesting account of dramatic events. Children do have a particular memory and emotional awareness, therefore such a memoir is an important testimony for reconstructing that historical time. The vicinity with a horrendous criminal and the story of the encounter through the eyes of a Jewish kid make the story even more interesting. A recommended read to anyone intere ...more

dejah_thoris
Jul 14, 2017 dejah_thoris rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, history
Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for a review.

Feuchtwanger had a unique childhood living in the apartment complex across from Hitler's during the 10 years he rose to power. The translation seems well done and preserves the childlike voice of the author without much trouble. There are occasional interjections that seem awkward, but overall it's a very interesting read that I couldn't put down. I would definitely recommend this book to middle school and high school students ...more


À propos de l’auteur

Bertil Scali est journaliste, écrivain et éditeur.

En novembre 2018, les éditions Louis Vuitton et Thames & Hudson ont publié son ouvrage "Histoires de voyageur : à bagages ouverts", illustré par le dessinateur Pierre Le-Tan. Le livre, écrit en langue française, a été traduit en anglais et diffusé dans le monde entier, en librairie et dans les boutiques Louis Vuitton.

Son récit Hitler, mon voisin (Michel Lafon, 2013), co-écrit avec Edgar Feuchtwanger, a été réédité en livre de poche, traduit en 13 langues et publié dans une trentaine de pays, dont les États-Unis, la Chine, l’Italie, l’Allemagne, le Brésil, l’Espagne ou la Pologne.

Son roman, Un jour comme un autre, a fait la Une du Figaro littéraire, qualifié de "meilleur premier roman de l'année" par Yann Moix.

Il a également écrit Villa Windsor et Diana, cette nuit-là, en collaboration avec Daniel Bourdon.

Il a écrit et co-réalisé le documentaire Hitler, mon voisin qui a notamment été diffusé sur Netflix et Planète+. De 1990 à 1992, il a écrit pour les magazines City Magazine, Elle et Détective. 

En 1993, il est entré comme reporter au magazine VSD, interviewant notamment Issei Sagawa, le "Japonais Cannibale", ainsi qu’à Radio Nova pour l’émission La Grosse Boule, avec Edouard Baer et Ariel Wizman.

En 1995, il a été engagé comme reporter à Paris Match, couvrant de nombreux faits d'actualité en France et à l'étranger, en particulier dans le domaine de l'Internet, et devenant le correspondant permanent du magazine à Londres.

En 2004, il s’est associé avec Jérôme Sans, cofondateur avec Nicolas Bourriaud du Palais de Tokyo, pour lancer les éditions Scali, une maison d’édition destinée à publier des ouvrages autour des cultures de l’underground et actuelles (musiques rock, électro, poésie, fiction, cinéma, art contemporain, littérature, érotisme, carnets) sur des thèmes négligés ou controversés et des sujets en marge tels que l’histoire de la Gay Pride, par Oliviero Toscani, ou celle de la culture Goth sous la direction de Patrick Eudeline. Près de 200 livres ont été publiés de 2004 à 2008, avec des auteurs comme Richard Branson, Jonas Mekas, Virginie Despentes, Nina Roberts, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Joeystar, Bruce Benderson, Marie Darrieussecq, Dupuy et Berberian, Brian Epstein, Vic Darkwood, Philippe Jaenada, Bernie Bonvoisin, Margo Jefferson, Bruno de Stabenrath ou Olivier Cachin.

En 2009, il a travaillé pour BETC sur les City Guide Louis Vuitton.

En 2010 et 2011, il a dirigé les Éditions de La Martinière Textes. Il est toujours directeur d'ouvrages pour les Éditions de La Martinière, publiant des auteurs aux parcours de vie hors du commun, tels que Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson ou Chantal Jouanno, et des beaux-livres illustrés signé par des artistes engagés comme Jane Birkin ou France Gall.

En 2013, il a fondé Litcom qui travaille avec des maisons d'édition, des marques et de grands écrivains. (Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, Chantal Jouanno…), des écrivains (Nicolas Rey, Bruno de Stabenrath, Patrick Eudeline…), des journalistes (Régis Le Sommier, Yseult Williams, Michel-Antoine Burnier…) et des beaux-livres illustrés signé par des artistes engagés comme Jane Birkin ou France Gall. Aux éditions Steinkis/Prisma, il a dirigé les ouvrages de grands écrivains (Patrick Eudeline, Gonzague Saint-Bris, Philippe Besson, Nicolas Rey, Eliette Abécassis, Benoît Duteurtre, Nicolas d'Estienne d'Orves, Joy Sorman, François Bégaudeau, Philippe Jaenada, Gilles Pudlowski…).

Le blog de Bertil Scali

Bertil Scali, agent littéraire, sur France Bleu