Special exhibition: Erika Mann

Why is it so cold?

Photo: Therese Giehse in the role of Dummheit (Stupidity)
Therese Giehse in the role of Dummheit (Stupidity)
Münchner Stadtbibliothek / Monacensia, EM F 460
Special exhibition: Erika Mann

Why is it so cold?

Crises and conflicts , 1933–1937

Even in Munich, our activities had not been without risk. But now everything was completely different and our position much more precarious. We were outcasts everywhere – barely tolerated by authorities who saw fit to ban us from any kind of direct political activity. The Nazi Reich around us was too close and too powerful...

Erika Mann, Therese Giehse zum 70.Geburtstag, 1968. In: Erika Mann: Blitze überm Ozean. Aufsätze, Reden, Reportagen. Hrsg. von Irmela von der Lühe und Uwe Naumann. Reinbek 2000. S.449–457.

After the burning of the Reichstag on 27 February 1933 and the first arrests, Erika Mann and her troupe were no longer safe in Germany. Their exile began in Switzerland. They managed to reopen the Pfeffermühle in Zurich as early as October 1933. Tours of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Czechoslovakia followed. Until the summer of 1936, Erika Mann’s cabaret gave more than 1,000 performances as a “patrol of humanity along the front of bestiality”. The Pfeffermühle experienced riots, performance bans, censorship and extensive surveillance by police and authorities. 1936 also saw the escalation of a conflict relating to Thomas Mann’s attitude to emigration, which had been smouldering since 1933. It was only after intensive pressure from his daughter that Thomas Mann was able to bring himself to publicly denounce the National Socialist regime. Conditions in Europe became increasingly difficult for the Pfeffermühle. Erika and Klaus attempted to make a new start in America with the “Pepper Mill”, but without success.

Further reading:
Irmela von der Lühe: Erika Mann. Eine Lebensgeschichte. Reinbek 2009, S.81–148.
Fluchtpunkt Zürich. Zu einer Stadt und ihrem Theater. Schauplätze der Selbstbehauptung und des Überlebens 1933–1945. Materialien zu einer Ausstellung zusammengestellt von Ute Cofalka und Beat Schläpfer. Berlin 1990
Alexis Schwarzenbach: Auf der Schwelle des Fremden. Das Leben der Annemarie Schwarzenbach. München 2008