Reluctant immigrants Klaus and Erika Mann in American exile, 1936-1945 / by Gerald Günter Hauck.
Klaus and Erika Mann held a unique position among the exiles in America. Of the small number of German emigre writers who attempted to cross cultural boundaries, the Manns were the most prominent. Klaus and Erika, the oldest children of the German novelist Thomas Mann, settled in the United States in 1936. Their father and the entire Mann family eventually followed them across the Atlantic. They were part of the European intellectual migration of the 1930s and 40s which brought a wide range of new ideas to America. Klaus and Erika were among the most outspoken antifascists. They saw themselves as representatives of a better Germany who were on a crusade against Nazism. This sense of mission dominated their lives and shaped their encounter with American culture. In the shadow of their prominent father, benefiting from his fame, Klaus and Erika Mann were more involved in American affairs than other emigres. They assumed positions of leadership among the exiles due to their contacts with American intellectuals, their publications, and their lecture tours. The Manns idealized the United States as a bastion of western culture and a haven of democracy. They attempted to convince Americans that they had a moral responsibility to fight the Nazi barbarians. Between 1938 and 1940, the Mann children achieved limited fame and recognition as cultural mediators who explained European events to American audiences. In the long run, however, the Manns were unable to build on this success. They became disillusioned because their antifascist propaganda had little impact on the United States. Americans did not seem to understand the exiles and rejected their cosmopolitan values. Likewise, Klaus and Erika were unable to understand American concerns and resisted Americanization. They were reluctant immigrants who remained preoccupied with Europe. Eventually, the Manns left the United States. They were important, however, for their political activism and their attempt to cross cultural boundaries.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/bib90735