Special exhibition: Erika Mann

I think, she will be a success.

The black-and-white photo shows Erika Mann in profile as she smokes a cigarette.
Erika Mann in New York, 1936
Photograph by: Lotte Jacobi, DLA Marbach, M 3179, © 2019 University of New Hampshire, Lotte Jacobi Collection
Special exhibition: Erika Mann

I think, she will be a success.

The career of a political speaker, 1937–1945

In Cleveland, I spoke 5 times in three days, which [...] brought me to the verge of collapse. […] Otherwise, though, the stay was something of a triumph, and my successes as public speaker number 1 are mounting.

Erika Mann an Katia Mann, 1. Mai 1937. In: Erika Mann. Briefe und Antworten. Bd.1. Hrsg. von Anna Zanco Prestel. München 1984, S.120f.

After just three performances in New York in January 1937, the fate of the “Pepper Mill” was sealed. Erika Mann quickly found a new platform: as a political speaker and travelling lecturer. Her very first appearance was spectacular: she spoke to 23,000 people at a “peace & democracy rally” in New York's Madison Square Garden. She was joined on stage by the Mayor of New York LaGuardia, the trade union leader John H. Lewis and a former aide of President Roosevelt. It became a great demonstration against the threat of war emanating from Hitler and a call for an economic boycott of Germany. Erika Mann’s speech made an impression. That same year, she was placed under contract by an agency for travelling lecturers. Over the years that followed, she spent the winter months travelling all over America. She lectured audiences large and small on “The Education of Young People in the Third Reich”, on German dictatorship and the dangers of fascism. She felt that America was her new home and the Pullman coach her “Fatherland”.

Further reading:
Irmela von der Lühe: Erika Mann. Eine Lebensgeschichte. Reinbek 2009. S.165–243.
Beverley Driver Eddy: Erika und Klaus Mann. Living with America. New York/Bern/Berlin 2018.