Events | #Mann's LA

Worldwide | 25. Mai 2020

Diese Reihe erkundet in den sozialen Medien Thomas Manns Los Angeles und seine Verbindungen zur Gegenwart.

Welche Orte haben er und seine Familie besucht? Wer waren Freunde und Bekannte? Was waren lokale Anliegen, die Mann beschäftigten und die auch heute noch aktuell sind? Von Schriftstellerkollegen im Exil wie Feuchtwanger oder Döblin, über Philosophen wie Adorno und Horkheimer, bis hin zu berühmten Künstlern wie Aldous Huxley und einer Filmpremiere in Hollywood: Anhand von Tagebucheinträgen, Briefen an Freunde, historischen Dokumenten, Karten und Anekdoten lädt das Thomas Mann House ein, Manns LA zu entdecken!

Die Beiträge der Serie sind in englischer Sprache verfasst.

Hanns Eisler | © Jürgen Schebera

Episode 14: Hanns Eisler - Composer and "Communist in a Philosophical Sense."

"The word 'friend' is a bit too intimate, but one can almost call it a paternal affection," composer Hanns Eisler described his relationship with Thomas Mann in retrospect. After fleeing Berlin and working as a visiting professor at the New School for Social Research in New York, Hanns and his wife Lou had settled in Los Angeles in 1942. Two years later, he and Mann met for the first time at a dinner at Arnold Schoenberg's house in Brentwood.

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Theodor W. Adorno

Episode 13: Theodor W. Adorno. By Alex Ross (music critic for the The New Yorker and author of the book The Rest Is Noise.

Of all the German-speaking émigrés who moved to the Los Angeles area during the Nazi era, the philosopher and critic Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno had perhaps the most openly antagonistic relationship with Southern California culture. Yet Adorno’s years in California were by no means unproductive. He may have been intellectually unhappy and financially pressed, but he benefited from close observation of Hollywood culture and formed friendships with a number of the émigrés.

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The Villa Aurora in the 1920s

Episode 12: Lion Feuchtwanger’s Villa Aurora and A Mutual Friend… By Friedel Schmoranzer (Villa Aurora)

Thomas Mann was a frequent guest at fellow writer Lion Feuchtwanger’s house. Mann called the Spanish revival villa on 520 Paseo Miramar a “true castle by the sea.” The Feuchtwangers were generous hosts and organized readings in Lion’s study. Thomas Mann used to be the guest of honor and moderator of theses evenings in German, whereas Charlie Chaplin used to have the first word at the English readings. Mann, a movie buff, admired Chaplin and enjoyed the Hollywood glamour Chaplin added to these events.

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Engineer's control room in NBC's Hollywood Radio City, 1938 | © Security Pacific National Bank Collection

Episode 11: The NBC Studios

In 1941, the BBC approached Thomas Mann to ask him to address his fellow countrymen regularly in short radio speeches. He later reported that he could hardly believe this great opportunity at first: The regular broadcasts enabled the exiled writer to politically influence the German population in their mother tongue. Until his last speech in November 1945, Mann drove every month from Pacific Palisades to Hollywood, where he recorded his speeches for Germany in the NBC's Recording Department.

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Rabbi Jacob Sonderling in the 1930s

Episode 10: The Hollywood Fairfax Temple

After taking a closer look at the relationship between Mann and the First Unitarian Church, we would like to focus on Mann’s relationship with Rabbi Jacob Sonderling and the Society for Jewish Culture - Fairfax Temple. By 1941, when the United States entered the war, more than 6,000 German Jews had made it to Los Angeles, making the city the second-largest center of German-speaking Jews in America. An important hub and supporting organization for Jewish art and culture in Los Angeles was the Fairfax Temple and its Rabbi, Jacob Sonderling, who had a good relationship with Thomas Mann.

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Viertel's house on Marbery Road, Santa Monica

Episode 9: Salka Viertel. By Donna Rifkind, author of "The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler's Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood."

In her 1969 memoir "The Kindness of Strangers," the screenwriter Salka Viertel confessed that she didn’t remember the first time she was introduced to her good friend Thomas Mann. But she supposed that it must have been during the summer of 1940 in Los Angeles, most likely at a banquet for the Emergency Rescue Committee, whose work on behalf of European refugees both Viertel and Mann supported.

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The Fox Village Theater, Westwood | © Benno Herz

Episode 8: La La Land

During the decade the Manns lived in ’La La Land,’ Thomas and Katia embraced the city's film culture. Mann’s favorite theater seemed to be the Fox Village Theater in Westwood. Built in 1931, the theater with the iconic 170-foot tower was only 15 minutes by car from his home in Pacific Palisades and became a highly frequented spot for the Manns’ movie nights. They visited the theater with the remarkable Spanish modernist architecture on a regular basis.

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Nelly Mann’s Membership Card for the Milk Drivers and Dairy Employees Union | © Feuchtwanger Exile Library

Episode 7: Nelly Mann. By Michaela Ullmann, Exile Studies Librarian.

As the Nazis assumed power in February 1933, Heinrich Mann was one of the first intellectuals to flee Germany with his wife, Nelly. Like Thomas and Katia Mann, Heinrich and Nelly initially found refuge in southern France until the country fell to German occupation, whereupon they fled Europe.

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Union Pacific streamliner 1936

Episode 6: Union Station

In the first years of his American exile, Thomas Mann was constantly on the move. From New York to Ottawa, Austin, Minneapolis, Seattle and LA - all in all, he gave well over one hundred lectures during this time. The aim was to convince the Americans of a united front against Nazi Germany.

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The Shrine Auditorium | © Mike Jiroch

Episode 5: First Visit in LA: The Shrine Auditorium

In February 1938, Thomas, Katia and Erika left Zurich for Thomas Mann’s first lecture tour throughout the United States. On March 23, they arrived in LA for the first time, on a ‘Streamliner’ train which Mann nicknamed ‘rocket train.’ He held his lecture, titled "The Coming Victory of Democracy," at the Shrine Auditorium, a venue in the shape of an amphitheater that could host more than 6000 people.

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Ramona Gardens Housing Project 1948 | © Digital Collections of the Los Angeles Public Library

Episode 4: The Ongoing Housing Crisis

The struggle for social housing concepts and solutions is a long-lasting issue for the city of Los Angeles. On May 20, 1952, Thomas Mann noted in his diary: “‘Daily News’ publication on the scandalous slum housing in Los Angeles. Houses occupied by large families with children, living in one room for $45 a month. The owner lives in Hollywood. Huge cash outlays for armaments and external power while bills for housing improvements are voted down."

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Döblin’s ID from MGM studios | DLA Marbach

Episode 3: Alfred Döblin – Love Thy Enemy. By Stefan Keppler-Tasaki, University of Tokyo.

The Jewish-German novelist and physician Alfred Döblin arrived in Los Angeles after an excruciating flight through Europe that he described in his biography “Destiny’s Journey.” The exile community welcomed him in a ceremony held at the First Unitarian Church on October 26, 1940. Thomas Mann, although a frequent visitor of the place, was missing that day since he had to attend to his brother Heinrich’s arrival in New York.

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Walter's star on the Hollywood Blvd. | © Benno Herz

Episode 2: Bruno Walter – A Concert with Obstacles

After fleeing from Germany in 1933, the world-famous conductor and composer Bruno Walter settled with his family in their new home on 608 N. Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. Walter, who conducted the LA Philharmonic at the time, was already friends with the Manns from his time with the Munich State Opera in the 1910’s. They revived their friendship in Los Angeles.

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Max Horkheimer | © Universitätsarchiv Frankfurt am Main

Episode 1: Max Horkheimer – Watching the Rhine (from LA)

Max Horkheimer moved from New York into a bungalow on 13524 D'este Drive, Pacific Palisades in April 1941. While scouting for a new home in Los Angeles in 1940, he recalled in an interview that a realtor "showed him a house and, as realtors do, launched into praise of the neighborhood. Just recently, the realtor explained, another house had been sold to another gentleman from Germany — 'a Mr. Mann.’”

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Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V. is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.