Hitler, My Neighbor

Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939

Publication Date: Nov 07, 2017

304 pp


ISBN: 978-1-59051-865-6


List Price US $25.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-864-9

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.

Excerpt from Hitler, My Neighbor

A big black car draws up on the other side of the street, and they turn to look at it. A chauffeur in military uniform walks around the car and opens the passenger door. A man steps out, looks at Aunt Bobbie, then the duke, then up at me.

He has a little black moustache, just like Papa’s.

Rosie makes me jump, slamming the window shut. She draws the curtains, undresses me, and puts me to bed for my rest. I hate rest time. I don’t like the bars on my bed either.

Eyes closed, I can feel Rosie’s gentle hand on my cheek. I fall asleep.

I dream that the man opposite turns into an ogre, he catches us and wants to eat us. He has big bushy hair and long pointed fingernails, like Struwwelpeter, the horrible boy in the book on my nightstand. With his hooked nails and bristly hedgehog hair, the ogre chases my family through the streets. My parents hold my hands but they run too quickly for me. I slip and fall behind, my mother comes back for me. The monster’s catching up. Wicked Friedrich—the little boy who whips his maid, kills cats with stones, pulls the wings off flies, and throttles turtle doves—is in my dream too, throwing chairs like cannonballs.

“An intimate look at the horror wrought by Hitler.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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

“The narrative, presented in a rigorous and pleasant way…harmoniously blends the account of the everyday life of this wealthy, refined, and cultivated Jewish family…and that of political events as they unfolded under their windows.” —Le Figaro