Today (18 June), Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the former home of writer Thomas Mann and his family in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles. The Federal Foreign Office purchased the property in November 2016 following fears that it could be demolished. It took less than two years for the historic property to be restored. Through a new residency programme, the house is now to be given a fresh lease of life as a place for lively debate in the spirit of Thomas Mann.
The Mann family lived in the house in California from 1942 to 1952 after emigrating from Nazi Germany. During this period, numerous writers, artists, actors and academics gathered there to share their experiences. In the villa’s study, Thomas Mann penned works including “Doctor Faustus” and “Lotte in Weimar” as well as parts of “Joseph and His Brothers” and “Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man”. From here, he fought his campaign against Hitler’s ideological defenders and for the model of an open democratic society. This was also the place where he wrote the majority of his radio messages for German listeners, which the BBC broadcast to Germany.
New residency programme
The new residency programme, the Thomas Mann Fellowship, is designed to give intellectuals and thinkers from all fields of German society the opportunity to address the major questions of our time and to enter into a dialogue and network with individuals and institutions in the United States. The renovation of the Thomas Mann House has created a place in Los Angeles which will inspire debate on fundamental current and future issues on both sides of the Atlantic.
The first fellows to take up residence in the Thomas Mann House this year will be actor Burghart Klaußner, sociologist Jutta Allmendinger, literary scholar and Thomas Mann researcher Heinrich Detering and microelectronics expert Yiannos Manoli. Political scientist Sylke Tempel, who died tragically last year, was also nominated as a fellow. Frido Mann, who, as Thomas Mann’s grandson, spent part of his childhood in the house, receives an honorary fellowship.
The residency programme is funded by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The Berthold Leibinger Stiftung, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation and the Robert Bosch Stiftung are also providing financial support. The German association Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House will be responsible for organisation in Los Angeles. The association operates the nearby artists’ residence Villa Aurora, which was once the exile home of Lion Feuchtwanger.