Special exhibition: Erika Mann

Appealing to reason

The black-and-white photo shows Erika Mann aged around 60.
Erika Mann in the mid-1960s
Photo: Mondo Annoni / © Stiftung Fotodok
Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Monacensia, EM F 507
Special exhibition: Erika Mann

Appealing to reason

During the Cold War, 1952–1969

Incidentally, with regard to the further amassing of nuclear war materials on both sides... hundreds of world-famous scholars have proven that we are in great danger – even without war...

Erika Mann, An die Vernunft appellieren, 1958. In: Erika Mann: Blitze überm Ozean. Aufsätze, Reden, Reportagen. Hrsg. von Irmela von der Lühe und Uwe Naumann. Reinbek 2000, S.432f.

In the America of the Cold War, Erika Mann's career was put on ice. The suicide of her brother Klaus on 21 May 1949, private disappointments and increasing problems with her health forced her to make radical decisions. By then, Thomas Mann had also become a target of the FBI. Thomas, Katia and Erika Mann returned to Switzerland in 1952. As the executor of their estates, Erika Mann began taking care of her father's and brother's works and posthumous reputation from the mid-1950s onwards. However, as a journalist, she continued to weigh in on world affairs, with appeals against nuclear weapons, suggestions for easing the tension between the East and West, and criticisms of American policy in Korea and Vietnam. She was also sympathetic to the protests of the 68ers, who rediscovered the works of Klaus Mann.

Further reading:
Barbara Murken: Gedanken zum Kinder-und Jugendbuchwerk von Erika Mann. Ein biographisches Puzzle. Münster 1995
Eberhard Spangenberg: Karriere eines Romans. Mephisto, Klaus Mann und Gustaf Gründgens. Reinbek 1982
Signe von Scanzoni: Als ich noch lebte. Ein Bericht über Erika Mann. Hersg. Und mit einem Nachwort von Irmela von der Lühe. Göttingen 2010; Taschenbuchausgabe: München 2012.