Eisenbrandt is a Jewish family name

The first thing Edgar Feuchtwanger can remember in connection with his neighbor, the criminal of the century, was the matter with the milk: “One day my mother said that there wasn't much of it today. Because the milkman had to leave Hitler more than usual. ”With that short, mustached person who lived diagonally across the street on Munich's Prinzregentenplatz in the 1930s and Feuchtwanger's father could look into the study with the curtains open.

80 years later, Edgar Feuchtwanger tells in the Jewish Community Center, which is filled with around 350 listeners, of the time when Hitler was our neighbor - also the title of his book recently published by Siedler Verlag. In an interview with Ellen Presser, the director of the IKG's cultural center, the nephew of the famous writer Lion Feuchtwanger, who is now almost 90 years old, reported on the history of his family.

Biography The father, Ludwig Feuchtwanger, a lawyer, has been running the renowned Munich science publisher Duncker & Humblot since 1915. In 1923 he married for the second time: 35-year-old Erna Reinstrom, whose family came from the Palatinate and had moved into a house in Munich's Bogenhausen district before the First World War: Grillparzerstraße 38, only a few meters away from the house that was in which from 1933 World history will be written. One year after the parents' marriage, their only child was born: Edgar, named after the mother's youngest brother, who died as a soldier in 1918.

His Jewish name was Josef, says the slender, silver-haired gentleman in a gray suit, "but everyone just called me Bürschi." Apart from the delivery bottlenecks for milk - and the fact that the creepy neighbor dominated the topics of conversation among the adults - life in Hitler's vicinity was initially not very exciting for little Edgar: “For a long time you could walk past his house completely undisturbed; nothing was cordoned off there, ”remembers Feuchtwanger.

Like at a meeting in 1934, when Hitler was already Chancellor: “I stood in front of the house, Hitler came out, I looked at him, he looked at me, passers-by shouted 'Heil Hitler!' He lifted his hat briefly - and then got into a waiting car. ”Shortly after the“ seizure of power ”Ludwig Feuchtwanger had to vacate his place at the head of Duncker & Humblot, but continued to work in the second row. At school, his son Edgar tried to "please my teacher: I took great pains to paint swastika pictures."

Impertinence What the audience was able to see for themselves when the moderator Ellen Presser projected some examples from little Edgar's exercise book onto the wall. How did the father deal with such unreasonable demands? Did he sign off this type of homework without hesitation? "What should he have done?" Asks Edgar Feuchtwanger back. “Had he not done it, he would have put us all in danger!” Of course, the little Jewish boy also sensed that something was changing in Germany: “I remember the friend of the art historian Wilhelm Pinder's son. For a long time I was invited to his house again and again - at some point not anymore. "

Pinder, who died in 1947, was an ardent anti-Semite and enthusiastic supporter of the Nazi regime - for which he was rewarded with a great academic career. In 1936 Ludwig Feuchtwanger lost his job at the publishing house and subsequently worked for the Jewish community and as the editor of the Bavarian Israelite community newspaper. "In the mid-1930s, he still didn't foresee how everything would radicalize," says his son.

It was only his experience in Dachau that gave the then 53-year-old the impetus to flee. After the night of the pogrom, the Gestapo captured him and took him to the concentration camp at the gates of Munich. His family did not see him again until December 20: “But I hardly recognized him,” writes Feuchtwanger in one of the most impressive passages of his book: “He is a small, lean man with a shaved head, deeply sunk eyes and a sallow face with bruises. (...) He hugged me and I was shaken with sobs. "

England In the spring of 1939 the family left Munich and emigrated to England via Holland. "I found it to be an adventure back then," says Edgar Feuchtwanger, "but I was also happy to be outside."

After college and history studies, he first taught adult education and from 1963 history at the University of Southampton. In 1981/82 he was visiting professor at the University of Frankfurt / Main.

Edgar Feuchtwanger came back to Munich for the first time in 1957, and "of course I went straight to our old apartment". On the day of the lecture at the IKG, which was organized together with Siedler Verlag, Edgar Feuchtwanger paid a visit to Bogenhausen - this time in Hitler's former apartment at Prinzregentenplatz 16, in the house that now houses Police Inspection 22. “An officer who knew his way around showed me everything. And I just thought: I'm still there - and Hitler would turn around in his grave if he knew that. "

Edgar Feuchtwanger, Bertil Scali: "When Hitler was our neighbor - memories of my childhood under National Socialism". Siedler, Munich 2014, 224 pp., € 19.99