Feder, Ernst

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FEDER, ERNST (Ernesto A. , pseudonym: Spectator ; 1881–1964), German lawyer and journalist. Born into a liberal German-Jewish family in Berlin, Feder studied law, economics, and history, completing his Ph.D. with a prize-winning thesis (Verantwortlichkeit fuer fremdes Verschulden nach dem Buergerlichen Gesetzbuche) at Berlin University in 1902. From 1907, he worked as an independent lawyer in Berlin, joined by Arthur Loewe in 1911. He also contributed to several legal and economic journals. In 1918, together with Theodor *Wolff and others, he founded the German Democratic Party (ddp) and was elected its chairman. From 1919 to 1931, he was domestic politics editor of the Berliner Tageblatt, the leading democratic-liberal paper of the Weimar Republic (edited by Wolff from 1907 to 1933). Owing to a dispute with the publisher, Feder resigned in 1931 and resumed private law practice besides working as a freelance writer and journalist. He was elected a member of several press associations and judicial bodies, including the Tribunal d'Honneur International des Journalists in The Hague (1931–33). An ardent supporter of post-imperial democratic Germany, Feder rejected Zionism and was active in Jewish communal organizations like the *Central-Verein. He was a close friend of leading German-Jewish figures like Paul *Nathan and James *Simon (cf. lbi yb, 10 (1965), 3–23).

In 1933, Feder managed to flee via Switzerland to Paris where he gave lectures at the Collège libre des Sciences Sociales and the Institut de Droit International, contributed to various papers like Mass und Wert (est. by Thomas *Mann) and Aufbau, and frequently traveled to Denmark, Finland, and Tunisia. After being interned at the Camp de la Braconne, he fled to Brazil in July 1941. In Rio de Janeiro, he continued lecturing and writing well over 40 papers in Brazil and abroad. After he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz in 1952, he was personally invited by Theodor Heuss and others to return to West Berlin, where he lived from 1957 until his death in 1964. His literary papers were donated to the Leo Baeck Institute New York. Among his published works are numerous legal and economic studies (cf. abj, 6 (1998), 509–513), several biographies, and historical studies: Theodor Barth und der demokratische Gedanke (1919); Hugo Preuss. Ein Lebensbild (1926); Politik und Humanitaet. Paul Nathan. Ein Lebensbild (1929; cf. lbi yb, 3 (1958), 60–80); Bismarcks grosses Spiel. Die geheimen Tagebuecher Ludwig Bambergers (1932); and Les Huguenots en Allemagne (1935). Feder's memoirs, Encontros / Encuentros (1944/45), originally appeared in Portuguese and Spanish (German edition: Begegnungen. Die Großen der Welt im Zwiegespräch, 1950). His diaries were first published by A. Paucker, "Searchlight on the Decline of the Weimar Republic – The Diaries of Ernst Feder," in: lbi yb, 13 (1968), 161–234; Heute sprach ich mit … Tagebuecher eines Berliner Publizisten 19261932, ed. C. Lowenthal-Hensel / A. Paucker (1971).


Aufbau, no. 12 (1956); mb (April 17, 1964 and 1965); W. Roeder (ed.), International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 19331945, vol. i (1980), 168; H. Schmuck (ed.), Jewish Biographical Archive, F. 237 (1995), 140–45; Series ii, F. ii/145 (2003), 197–204; R. Heuer (ed.), Archiv Bibliographia Judaica, vol. vi (1998), 505–13 (incl. bibl.).

[Johannes Valentin Schwarz (2nd ed.)]