News |Steinmeier opens Thomas Mann House

Photo: VATMH/Mirko Lux

On Monday night, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier inaugurated the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles. More than 250 guests from the fields of culture, science, politics, and the media gathered in the house on San Remo Drive in Pacific Palisades, where the Mann Family lived during their US exile in the 1940s. It was at this house that Mann wrote "Doctor Faustus", the third part of the Joseph trilogy, and his influential speeches to the "German listeners", which were broadcast by the BBC to Germany during the Second World War and formed a meaningful counter public to the Nazi propaganda.

In 2016, the German Federal Government bought the property to protect it from demolition. In the future, the house will serve as a residence and debate venue for German intellectuals working on topics that pose major challenges on both sides of the Atlantic.

In his speech, the Federal President expressed the wish that the fellows "fulfill this House with a democratic spirit - and with debates bridging the continents." This, said Steinmeier, "is the core to which this historic place and these new fellowships should be committed: a change of the mental climate; a new spirit in which democracy will thrive." (Read the whole speech here)

Steinmeier and Elke Büdenbender also met the current scholarship holders of Villa Aurora, Maria Schrader, Stefan Beyer and Feuchtwanger Fellow Onur Burçak Belli (from left to right). | Photo: Aaron Perez

Ahead of the inauguration, the delegation visited Villa Aurora, just a few miles away. Villa Aurora has been successfully operating a residency program for German artists since 1995. Due to this long-term expertise, both houses will be run by the same organization, Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V.

On Tuesday, Steinmeier opened the conference "The Struggle for Democracy" at the Getty Center in Los Angeles with a poignant speech calling for commitment and creativity in the defense of democracy: Democracy, he said, “cannot be won without an idea of ​​the democracy of the future.” The endangerment and future of democracy were discussed by future Thomas Mann Fellows and US intellectuals. (Read the whole speech here)

From Los Angeles, the Federal President's delegation traveled on to Silicon Valley in Northern California, where Frank-Walter Steinmeier will lead expert discussions on the challenges of digitization with a focus on the societal developments brought about by the digital transformation in the field of artificial intelligence, as well as the future of employment and its consequences for democracy.

For more photos of the inauguration and our conference "The struggle for democracy" visit us on

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