The Federal Republic of Germany is the new owner of Thomas Mann’s house in Los Angeles. Member of the German Bundestag Doris Barnett was presented with the keys to Thomas Mann’s house on behalf of the German Bundestag during a tour of the house.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement about this today (18 November).
I am delighted that we have managed to preserve Thomas Mann’s house for Germany. I am extremely grateful to the Members of the German Bundestag whose support made this purchase possible in the first place. Thomas Mann’s house was, in a sense, the “White House of exile”. This was where many Germans met to hold discussions on a better future for our country and sound out paths towards an open society, as well as lay our common transatlantic foundation of values. With this in mind, we intend to bring Thomas Mann’s house back to life and, as at the German Academy in New York, to use it to promote transatlantic understanding.
In our world riven with conflict whose own order has been called into question, we need – now more then ever – places where cultural and social dialogue can take place, free from external pressure, and where new narratives can be discussed and topics of the future elaborated peacefully.
Avoiding alienation, facilitating empathy and understanding and establishing common perspectives – these are all tasks that are best undertaken outside the realm of politics. This is why it is essential that, through our cultural relations policy, we create and maintain these realms outside politics and establish nexuses that provide access to culture and education – with the Goethe-Institut and partner schools abroad, to mention but two examples, and also with Thomas Mann’s house in Los Angeles in the future.
I consider this to be a cultural policy that stands for the social, affirmative power of culture, a cultural policy that connects societies across borders. Shaping things through understanding is the objective of our foreign cultural relations policy. In turbulent times such as these, we need, now more than ever, firm cultural links with our most important partner outside Europe in order to do this.
Together with Villa Aurora and the Goethe-Institut and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as members of the board of trustees, as well as with support especially from the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the German Literature Archive in Marbach and others, the Federal Foreign Office has elaborated a concept that fosters the transatlantic dialogue and memory of Thomas Mann at the German author’s former residence. There will be an emphasis on areas that address fundamental social topics on both sides of the Atlantic, including identity, migration and integration, as well as flight and exile. Villa Aurora has signalled its willingness to support this project as a partner on the ground.