This semester, one of the classes I took was a history class in Nazi Germany. Not only did I want to take this course because I’ve already taken enough American history and wanted to learn about the history of another country, but I wanted to learn something new about Hitler that I hadn’t already heard before, throughout my life.
Now, having completed the course, I found there was so much more to the Jewish holocaust than what I was previously aware of. It is understandable that most people consider the Jewish holocaust to have been a very inhumane way of treating anyone, much less concentrating that treatment largely on one group of people which in effect was genocide.
Reportedly, 6 million Jewish people were killed at the hands of the Nazis which is an unspeakable number of people. We also shouldn’t forget that Africans suffered a fate just as terrible, having been transported across the Atlantic to America, across the Sahara Desert, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. A total of 60 million Africans either died or were enslaved because of the slave trade that took them to various parts of the world.
Mistreatment of any group of people in this manner is a crime which caused some Jewish people and some Africans to revolt. Africans revolted by forming a mutiny, attempting suicide or refusing to eat. Many Jewish people went into exile to flee the constraints of Nazi Germany, some of the writers in Germany fled to America, one in particular, Lion Feuchtwanger, continued his writing career and resided in Los Angeles in his later years.
Lion Feuchtwanger a notable writer and German citizen who was born Jewish, enjoyed a successful writing career while in Germany which continued once he relocated to the United States. His written work includes: The Devil in France, Proud Destiny, a trilogy covering the life of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century: Der jüdische Krieg (1932; Josephus), Die Söhne (1935; The Jew of Rome) and Der Tag wird kommen (1942; The Day will Come, also called Josephus and the Emperor). Feuchtwanger personally acquired a large collection of the various editions and translations of the works of Flavius Josephus spanning 400 years of printing.
Posthumously, the Feuchtwangers have a testament to their life experiences by having Lion’s collection of books and writings maintained in an archive. As reported by the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library website at the University of Southern California (USC), upon his death, his widow, Marta donated his entire collection of 30,000 books, papers to the USC Doheny Memorial Library, which has one room devoted to his collection. Approximately 8,000 of those books are housed in his former residence in Los Angeles, whereas the remaining 20,000 are house at USC. The collection contains rare books, correspondence, manuscripts and photographs and archival material on other German-speaking exiles, and a personal collection of works written by other notable authors such as: Cicero, Juvenal, Ovid, Sophocles, Thucydides, Virgil, Xenophon, among others. Feuchtwanger had in his collection texts covering: Incunabula about printing, the French Revolution, the Enlightenment period and German literature.
According to Michaela Ullmann, Exile Studies Librarian at USC’s Doheny library, Mr. Feuchtwanger’s collection is so vast that what you see housed in the one room is only a small portion of the collection; the remainder is also housed in the archives located in USC’s Grand Avenue Library Depository in Los Angeles.
I am grateful for the many sacrifices made by our ancestors whether they endured slavery and racism or internment in concentration camps and censorship of their work. I am glad that I had the nerve to venture outside of what is familiar to learn more about how widespread genocide is and what a terrible crime it is against mankind.
University of Southern California. University of Southern California: Lion Feuchtwanger and the German Émigré Experience. 2017, https//libraries.usc.edu/locations/special-collections/lion-feuchtwanger-and-german-émigré-experience.
“German Exile Literature.” Leo Baeck Institute, William Weitzer, Executive Director, https://www.lbi.org/collections/library/highlights of lbi/german-exile-literature. Accessed 22 Mar. 2017.
“The Middle Passage.” Digital History, Steven Mintz, https://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu. Accessed 4 May 2017.