By Tony Kushner
The History Department and the Parkes Institute are delighted to share the good news that Edgar Feuchtwanger has been awarded an OBE in the 2021 Queen’s Honours List for services to ‘Anglo-German understanding and history’. Edgar, who was born in Munich in 1924 into a distinguished German Jewish family of bankers and culture (his uncle was the famous and influential novelist, Lion Feuchtwanger) came to Britain as a child refugee in February 1939. After a scholarship at Winchester College, and a brief period working for the Ministry of Supply in Scotland chopping down trees (his father had been briefly interned as an ‘enemy alien’), he was educated at Cambridge University. After teaching in adult education in Winchester, where his family had settled, he became a lecturer at the University of Southampton in 1959, teaching first in the Department of Adult Education and then the History Department. One of the longest serving members of the Department, he retired in 1989. As a teacher, Edgar was much loved by Southampton students for both his kindness and astonishing knowledge and by staff as a loyal and supportive member. I had the pleasure of carrying out some of my first teaching at Southampton with Edgar and with his command of detail and authority over the subject matter it was an extremely hard act to follow.
Edgar remains one of the few scholars who has mastered equally German and British history and regarded with great respect in the academic communities of both countries. His survey histories are beautifully written and have provided generations of students with clear narratives but also subtle and persuasive interpretations of the key issues. He remains one of the key scholars on both Gladstone and Disraeli with astute monographs on both these complex figures and their evolving politics.
More recently, Edgar has written powerfully about his life before, during and after the Nazi regime marked by the publication in English in 2017 of Hitler: My Neighbour. Edgar has always been supportive of the Parkes Institute, contributing generously to a conference on ‘Disraeli’s Jewishness’, and more recently giving his testimony at our Holocaust Memorial Day events linked to this memoir.
In 2003 Edgar was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit. His OBE is a fitting counterpart to a gentle man who has given so much to the scholarly community and well beyond. The History Department and Parkes Institute sends its warmest congratulations and appreciation.