The Oppermanns

The Oppermanns by Lion Feuchtwanger

The FCFS book discussion group is discussing this book the first Sunday in January 2023

I am formulating the discussion topics here. This is still WIP (work in progress)

Location: 35
It is not your duty to finish this novel, but neither are you free to neglect the history it preserves with such artistry, agony, and passion.

Location: 56
a novel about the German 1930s—a novel about pervasive surveillance and militarized policing, and about how the fake-news threats of “migrants” and “terrorism” can be manipulated to curtail civil liberties and crush democratic norms—will never be enough to prevent any of that from ever happening again.

Location: 110
the commercial success of the book only further imperiled its author. With the outbreak of war in September 1939, Feuchtwanger was detained by the French, … With the aid of American journalist Varian Fry, Marta contacted Hiram Bingham, the American vice-consul in Marseille, It was Bingham who planned Feuchtwanger’s escape, which was not without its farcical elements

Location: 138
the principle that art can, or even must, have a message; and that such art-with-a-message, which will always be dismissed as propaganda, is in fact the only available corrective to the real and actual propaganda of entrenched official power.

The above was the introduction to the book updated in 2022. Here’s a review by Cohen:

Begin excerpts from the book for discussion with possible discussion questions.

  1. Let’s discuss efforts to bring down prices. Why do people buy the less expensive products and then blame a scapegoat? For example, companies that move factories to countries where labor is cheaper aren’t boycotted but the trade agreements are scapegoated.

Location: 378
This movement called itself National Socialism. It freely expressed what Heinrich Wels had long secretly felt, namely that the Jewish firms with their cut-price methods were responsible for Germany’s decline. It was true that people still preferred to buy cheaper tables, but at least they abused the Oppermanns.

2. Who profits when minorities are slandered?

Location: 385
Chicanery from official quarters increased under pressure from the growing National Socialist party. Heinrich Wels profited.

3. Is he talking about Poland here? Excerpt from Wikipedia:

On August 31, the day before the German invasion of Poland that began World War II, the Germans began mass arrests of prominent Poles in the city. Among the arrested Poles were activists, entrepreneurs, journalists, editors, scout leaders, the director of the local Polish bank and the director of the local Polish library. The Nowiny Codzienne newspaper was closed down on September 1, and its editorial team, including editor-in-chief Jan Łangowski, was deported to concentration camps. In September 1939, local Polish organizations were closed down by the German police and Gestapo, and the assets of the local Polish bank were confiscated. On September 13 and October 4, 1939, arrested Poles were deported from the city to concentration camps

Location: 566
“Grosnowice changed masters seventeen times. Seven times the changes brought pogroms with them.

I am formulating the discussion topics here. This is still WIP (work in progress)


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