Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 5, 2014

The International Relations of Thomas Mann in Early Cold War Germany

Kenneth H. Marcus
From the journal New Global Studies

Abstract

As one of the most widely-respected German writers of the twentieth century, Thomas Mann (1875–1955) was a key figure in supporting and communicating the idea of a free and democratic Germany during a period of enormous international tension and conflict. While a professor of literature at Princeton (1938–41) and a resident of Los Angeles (1941–52), he became a highly active participant in the war effort, giving anti-fascist speeches around the country and recording a series of broadcasts to Germany on the BBC, calling for an end to National Socialism. He and his wife Katia became America citizens in 1944, and three of their children served in American uniform. This paper focuses on Mann’s position as an “unofficial diplomat” in 1949 while receiving the Goethe Prize, then the most prestigious literary prize in Germany, from two different locations: Frankfurt am Main in western Germany and Weimar in eastern Germany. This situation thus placed Mann in the unique position of being able to address the citizens of two diverging states who were at the heart of Cold War Europe: the two Germanies, and to emphasize what they held in common. During the postwar era, Mann’s political position shifted from one who spoke mainly about a democratic Germany to one who was a strong proponent for international peace and cooperation. Nonetheless, some Western journalists depicted him as a dupe for communism, and the FBI increasingly tracked his movements. This paper thus discusses both the opportunities and challenges for international relations by a major cultural figure and one of the leading “unofficial diplomats” during the onset of the Cold War.

References

Adolphs, D. W.2010. “Die amerikanische Exilrhetorik Thomas Manns als Zeugnis einer weltanschaulichen Neuorientierung.” Amsterdamer Beiträge zur Neueren Germanistik76:26582.Search in Google Scholar

Badisches Tagblatt. 1949. “Der Autor jenseits der Zonen.” Badisches Tagblatt (Baden-Baden), July 30.Search in Google Scholar

Bürgin, H., and H.-O.Mayer, 1969. Thomas Mann: A Chronicle of His Life. Translated by E. Dobson. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press.Search in Google Scholar

Culver, J. C., and J.Hyde.2000. American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace. New York: W.W. Norton.Search in Google Scholar

Detering, H.2012. Thomas Manns amerikanische Religion: Theologie, Politik und Literatur im kalifornischen Exil. Frankfurt a.M: S. Fischer.Search in Google Scholar

Die Neue Zeitung. 1949. “Goethepreisträger stellt sich der Presse; erörtert Fragen über USA und Deutschland.” Die Neue Zeitung (Munich), July 26.Search in Google Scholar

Die Welt. 1949. “Ich bin optimistisch.” Die Welt (Hamburg), July 30.Search in Google Scholar

Frankfurter Rundschau. 1949a. “Thomas Mann: Meine Heimat ist die deutsche Sprache.” Frankfurter Rundschau, July 26.Search in Google Scholar

Frankfurter Rundschau. 1949b. “Thomas Mann in Nürnberg.” Frankfurter Rundschau, August 1.Search in Google Scholar

Frey, E.1976. “Thomas Mann’s Exile Years in America.” Modern Language Studies 6, no. 1 (Spring):8392.Search in Google Scholar

Gaddis, J. L.1997. We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Search in Google Scholar

Glaeßner, G.-J.2009. “Westernisation, Europeanisation, and Civil Society: Has Thomas Mann’s Vision of a European Germany Come True?” In Dislocation and Reorientation: Exile, Division and the End of Communism in German Culture and Politics. In Honour of Ian Wallace, edited by A. Goodbody, P. Ó Dochartaigh, and D. Tate, German Monitor, Vol. 71, 30314. Amsterdam and New York: Editions Rodopi B.V.Search in Google Scholar

Hage, V.1990. “Thomas Manns Reise nach Weimar 1949, ‘Der Prozeβ gegen Walter Janka’ und Archiventdeckungen aus der DDR: Wie alles begann.” Die Zeit (29), Zeit Online, Kultur, http://www.zeit.de/1990/29/wie-alles-begann.Search in Google Scholar

Hayman, R.1995. Thomas Mann: A Biography. New York: Scribner.Search in Google Scholar

Isaacson, W.2007. Einstein: His Life and Universe. New York: Simon & Schuster.Search in Google Scholar

Mann, K.1936. Mephisto. Roman einer Karriere. Amsterdam: Querido Verlag N.V.Search in Google Scholar

Mann, E.1938a. School for Barbarians. Education under the Nazis, with an introduction by T. Mann. New York: Modern Age Books.Search in Google Scholar

Mann, E.1938b. Zehn Millionen Kinder: Die Erziehung der Jugend im Dritten Reich. Amsterdam: Querido Verlag N.V.Search in Google Scholar

Mann, K.1975. Unwritten Memories. Edited by E. Plessen and M. Mann. Translated by Hunter and H. Hannum. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Search in Google Scholar

Mann, T. 1947. Doktor Faustus: Das Leben des deutschen Tonsetzers Adrian Leverkühn erzählt von einem Freunde. Stockholm: Bermann-Fischer.Search in Google Scholar

Mann, T. 1948. Joseph and His Brothers. Translated from the German by H. T. Lowe-Porter. Introduction by the author. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Search in Google Scholar

Mann, T. 2004. Deutsche Hörer! BBC-Reden 1941 bis 1945, BBC Deutschsprachiger Dienst, Munich: Der Hörverlag, Bayerischer Rundfunk, ISBN 3-89940-398-3. Compact disc.Search in Google Scholar

Marcus, K. H.2000. The Politics of Power: Elites of an Early Modern State in Germany. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.Search in Google Scholar

Marcus, K. H.forthcoming. Schoenberg and Southern California Modernism. Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Marei, J.1949. “Thomas Mann: Goethe-Preisträger östlich und westlich.” Die Zeit (Hamburg), June 23.Search in Google Scholar

Martin, A.1999. “‘Vom fortschrittlichen Interesse her’: Das Goethe-Jahr 1949 in der SBZ.” Analyse & Kritik. Zeitung für linke Debatte und Praxis (429). https://www.akweb.de/ak_s/ak429/45.htm.Search in Google Scholar

Neue Presse. 1949. “Thomas Mann diskutiert mit der Presse.” Neue Presse (Frankfurt), July 26.Search in Google Scholar

Sächsische Zeitung. 1949. “Wir grüβen Thomas Mann.” Sächsische Zeitung (Dresden), August 1.Search in Google Scholar

Schwäbische Landeszeitung. 1949. “Thomas Mann in München.” Schwäbische Landeszeitung (Ausgburg), August 1.Search in Google Scholar

Südbayerische Volkszeitung. 1949. “Repräsentant der Einheit Deutschlands.” Südbayerische Volkszeitung (Munich), August 6.Search in Google Scholar

Thüringer Volk. 1949. “Thomas Mann in der Goethestadt.” Thüringer Volk (Weimar), August 1.Search in Google Scholar

Tillinger, E.1949. “The Moral Eclipse of Thomas Mann.” Plain Talk, December, pp. 50–54, FBI File, TMA.Search in Google Scholar

Tillinger, E.1951. “Thomas Mann’s Left Hand.” The Freeman, vol. 1, no. 13 (March 26), pp. 5558, FBI File, TMA.Search in Google Scholar

Westfälische Rundschau. 1949. “Versuch am untauglichen Objekt.” Westfälische Rundschau (Dortmund), August 4.Search in Google Scholar

Whitney, C. R.1993. “Thomas Mann’s Daughter an Informer.” New York Times, July 18. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/07/18/us/thomas-mann-s-daughter-an-informer.htmlSearch in Google Scholar

  1. 1

    The anniversary of Goethe’s birthdate is August 28, but Mann was unable to come then and agreed on July 25. The literature on Mann’s reception of the Goethe Prize is surprisingly limited; see Bürgin and Mayer (1969, 227–30); Hayman (1995, 562–65); Hage (1990); Martin (1999); Glaeßner (2009, 303–14).

  2. 2

    Thomas and Katia Mann visited Europe from May through August 1947 (England, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands) but opted not to visit Germany in part over safety concerns. Both took American citizenship on June 23, 1944. Hayman (1995, 502, 540–45).

  3. 3

    Die Welt (Hamburg) (1949), Newspaper File, July 1949, Thomas Mann Archives (hereafter TMA), Zurich, Switzerland.

  4. 4

    Three of his children, Klaus, Erika, and Golo, served in American uniform during the war, and Erika aided the FBI in interrogating refugees from Nazi Germany. Secret files released in the early 1990s on Erika Mann revealed her covert activities, as well as the effort by the US government to deport her (unsuccessfully) in 1951 based on suspicion of Communist sympathies. Whitney (1993).

  5. 5

    Files of newspaper clippings on Mann’s reception of the Goethe Prize are mainly in two folders, labeled “July 1949” and “August/September 1949,” at the TMA.

  6. 6

    Die Welt (1949), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA.

  7. 7

    Badisches Tagblatt (Baden-Baden) (1949), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA.

  8. 8

    Mann (1936, 1938a), which was published in German as Zehn Millionen Kinder: Die Erziehung der Jugend im Dritten Reich (1938b).

  9. 9

    His first trip to the US was in May–June 1934 at the invitation by his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf; the second in June–July 1935; the third in April 1937; and the fourth during February–July 1938. He left Europe in exile for the United States in September 1938. Bürgin and Mayer (1969, 110–11, 116–17, 128–29, 131–36). In a speech he gave at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign on 29 April 1938, titled “Democracy and Christianity,” he stated that he “recognized the threat to liberty which was beginning to take form in Germany, and … now even Switzerland, once an impregnable fortress of humanity, appears to be threatened.” Detering (2012, 284).

  10. 10

    Mann (2004). “Euch zu warnen ist der einzige Dienst, den ein Deutscher wie ich Euch heute erweisen kann.” March 1941, from Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer! BBC-Reden 1941 bis 1945, BBC Deutschsprachiger Dienst, compact disc, ISBN 3-89940-398-3, Der hörverlag, Bayerischer Rundfunk.

  11. 11

    Mann firmly disagreed with Truman’s policies, and when Truman fired Henry Wallace as Secretary of Commerce over his stance with the Soviet Union, the Manns wired Wallace on September 21, 1946: “Like millions of good Americans we not only share your views on foreign policy but are deeply impressed with your courage and consistency in defending them.” Quoted in Culver and Hyde (2000, 428).

  12. 12
  13. 13

    “es mit Deutschland nicht hätte zu kommen brauchen, wohin es gekommen ist,” in Frankfurter Rundschau (1949a), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA.

  14. 14

    Frankfurter Rundschau (1949a), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA.

  15. 15
  16. 16

    Schwäbische Landeszeitung (Ausgburg) (1949), Newspaper File, August/September 1949, TMA.

  17. 17

    Neue Presse (Frankfurt) (1949), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA. Mann first explained the idea of a world state in front of over 100 German and foreign journalists during a one-hour interview on 25 July 1949 in the “Club for Commerce and Industry” in Frankfurt am Main.

  18. 18
  19. 19

    Thomas Mann included his name among 132 renowned American writers and artists, who signed a “Greeting and Friendship to the Progressives of Great Britain,” which consisted largely of Wallace supporters. Culver and Hyde (2000, 439).

  20. 20

    Marei (1949), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA. On the radio broadcasts, see Mann (2004).

  21. 21

    Badisches Tagblatt (1949), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA.

  22. 22

    Thüringer Volk (Weimar) (1949), Newspaper File August/September 1949, TMA. Several of these political positions have their origins in the early modern era; on the Kirchenrat, for example, see Marcus (2000, 15–16, 64–66, 86–88).

  23. 23

    “Ansprache im Goethe-Jahr” (1 August 1949), also quoted in Bürgin and Mayer (1969, 228–29).

  24. 24

    Bürgin and Mayer (1969, 228). The exchange rate at the time of the award was 5 East German Marks to 1 West German Mark, so was worth 5,000 West German Marks. The exchange rate to the dollar was DM 4.20 in 1950. Originally, the Herder Church was called the Church of St. Peter and Paul.

  25. 25

    Sächsische Zeitung (Dresden) (1949), Newspaper File, August/September 1949, TMA.

  26. 26

    “Wer mit uns die Heimat retten will, ist unser guter Kamerad.” See Thüringer Volk (Weimar) (1949), Newspaper File, August/September 1949, TMA. See also Südbayerische Volkszeitung (Munich) (1949), Newspaper File, August/September 1949, TMA.

  27. 27

    Schwäbische Landeszeitung (Ausgburg) (1949), Newspaper File, August/September 1949, TMA.

  28. 28

    Frankfurter Rundschau (1949b), Newspaper File, August/September 1949, TMA.

  29. 29

    About one sixth of the East German population fled to the west during the period 1945–1961. Gaddis (1997, 138).

  30. 30

    Die Neue Zeitung (Munich) (1949), Newspaper File, July 1949, TMA.

  31. 31

    Frankfurter Rundschau (1949b), Newspaper File, August/September 1949, TMA.

  32. 32

    During the 1940s and 1950s the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) gradually joined European political and economic institutions. Although it was not a founding member of the Council of Europe, which first met on 5 May 1949 and included Britain, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, and Norway, western Germany did form part of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (founded to administer the Marshall Plan in 1948). The FRG further took part in the Treaty of Paris (18 April 1951), which created a European Coal and Steel Community among France, West Germany, Italy, and the three Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg). West Germany joined the Council of Europe in 1950, and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer addressed its members on 10 December 1951 on West Germany’s European policy. The FRG also took part in the Treaty of Rome (25 March 1957), which led to the founding of the OECD (1957) and European Economic Community (1 January 1958). The FRG further joined the United Nations as an observer in 1955, whereas East Germany became an observer only in 1972. Both states became full members on 18 September 1973, and then as a unified Germany on 3 October 1990.

  33. 33

    Tillinger (1949, 52), FBI File, TMA.

  34. 34

    Tillinger (1951, 58), FBI File, TMA.

  35. 35

    Westfälische Rundschau (Dortmund) (1949), also quoted in Martin (1999).

Published Online: 2014-4-5
Published in Print: 2014-3-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston