Thomas Mann: Deutsche Hörer! (1940-1945) [Listen, Germany! Engl. version 1943]

Dust jacket: Deutsche Hörer!
Book jacket of the first edition of Deutsche Hörer!, published in 1942 by th Bermann Fischer publishing house, Stockholm
Antiquariat Dr. Haack, Leipzig, courtesy of Frido Mann, © S. Fischer Verlage, Frankfurt am Main

Thomas Mann: Deutsche Hörer! (1940-1945) [Listen, Germany! Engl. version 1943]

Ein deutscher Schriftsteller spricht zu euch, dessen Werk und Person von euren Machthabern verfemt sind und dessen Bücher, selbst wenn sie vom Deutschesten handeln, von Goethe zum Beispiel, nur noch zu fremden, freien Völkern in ihrer Sprache reden können, während sie euch stumm und unbekannt bleiben müssen. Mein Werk wird eines Tages zu euch zurückkehren.

[You are being addressed by a German writer whose work and person are both anathema to your leaders and whose books, even when they deal with the most quintessentially German subjects, for example Goethe, can only speak to foreign peoples in their languages, while to you they must remain silent and unknown. One day my work will return to you. (ed. trans.)]

Thomas Mann, Deutsche Hörer!, first address from October 1940

In autumn 1940, the British broadcaster BBC approached the writer Thomas Mann, who had since emigrated to the US, and asked him to give voice to his anti-Nazi stance in a monthly series of radio addresses. The addresses were initially recited by a German-language employee; from March 1941, they were recorded in Mann's Californian exile and transmitted to London via a telephone connection. From there they were broadcast to Germany via long wave transmission with the aim of encouraging the local population to renounce their National Socialist rulers. In his August 1941 address, Mann said: “For the future it will make a decisive difference whether you Germans eliminate this man of terrors, this Hitler, yourselves, or whether it must be done from outside. Only if you free yourselves do you have a right to take part in the coming free and just order of nations.” 

As listening to enemy broadcasters was punishable by death, any statement with regard to the reception and resonance would be purely speculative. For Goebbels and even Hitler, who publicly railed against them, the interventions by this “festering intellectual giant of the German republic” (Goebbels) were demonstrably abhorrent. The last regular address of a total of 58 five- to eight-minute broadcasts was transmitted in May 1945. For New Year's 1946, there was a concluding special broadcast. Mann's collected addresses were published in 1942 in a – later expanded – book version by the Bermann-Fischer publishing house in Stockholm.