Fic­tion

The Opper­manns

Lion Feucht­wanger; James Cleugh, trans; Joshua Cohen, trans­la­tion and introduction

  • From the Publisher
September 22, 2021

Writ­ten in real time, as the Nazis con­sol­i­dat­ed their pow­er over the win­ter of 1933The Opper­manns cap­tures the fall of Weimar Ger­many through the eyes of one bour­geois Jew­ish fam­i­ly, shocked and par­a­lyzed by an ide­ol­o­gy they can­not comprehend.

In the foment of Weimar-era Berlin, the Opper­mann broth­ers rep­re­sent tra­di­tion and sta­bil­i­ty. One broth­er over­sees the fur­ni­ture chain found­ed by their grand­fa­ther, one is an emi­nent sur­geon, one a respect­ed crit­ic. They are rich, cul­tured, lib­er­al, and pub­lic spir­it­ed, proud inher­i­tors of the Ger­man enlight­en­ment. They don’t see Hitler as a threat. Then, to their hor­ror, the Nazis come to pow­er, and the Opper­manns and their chil­dren are faced with the ter­ri­ble deci­sion of whether to adapt — if they can — flee, or try to fight.

Writ­ten in 1933, near­ly in real time, The Opper­manns cap­tures the day-to-day ver­ti­go of watch­ing a lib­er­al democ­ra­cy fall apart. As Joshua Cohen writes in his intro­duc­tion to this new edi­tion, it is one of the last mas­ter­pieces of Ger­man-Jew­ish cul­ture.” Pre­scient and chill­ing, it has lost none of its pow­er today.

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