Thursday, 24 May 2018

Feuchtwanger, Lion "Jew Süss"

Feuchtwanger, Lion "Jew Süss" (German: Jud Süß) - 1925

This book is a classic about Germany in the 17th/18th century. It is based on the life of a Jewish  banker who is an important figure behind the Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg in Stuttgart. It tells us a lot about life at court at that time. Not all good, like life on any court. Well, this is the conclusion you get if you read all those books about history.

Anyway, I might have called this book "The rise and fall of Joseph Süß and Karl Alexander of Württemberg", but it's true, the protagonist is the former guy and his life.

The Nazis based a film on the life of the same guy to make it one of the most antisemitic pieces ever. I would not necessarily say that this book is antisemitic, it shows how antisemitism was there all along and how people used it for their own advantage. In that respect, it certainly still is worth reading today.

From the back cover:

"The novel tells the story of a Jewish businessman, Joseph Süß Oppenheimer, who, because of his exceptional talent for finance & politics, becomes the top advisor for the Duke of Württemberg. Surrounded by jealous & hateful enemies, Süß helps the Duke create a corrupt state that involves them both in immense wealth & power."


  1. Interesting. I like your observation about antisemitism being there all along. Also curious that the Jew's name was Oppenheimer, same name as the guy who created the first atom bombs. I read his biography.

  2. Thank you, Judy. Yes, antisemitism is a lot older than the Nazitime. I have read many books even from the middle ages where the subject arises. But it's easy nowadays to blame the Germans. That way, everyone else can wash their hands off.

    Oppenheimer is an old Jewish name, even Robert Oppenheimer had Jewish ancestors. So, it's maybe not that surprising that this guy had the same name.

    Anyway, a really interesting read about the lives of Jews before the "Third Reich".