Person: Erika Mann
Erika Mann in American exile, 1938. Photographer unknown.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Erika Mann

Sie machen zehnmal mehr gegen die Barbarei als wir alle Schriftsteller zusammen.

[You are doing ten times more against the barbarism than all of us writers. (ed. trans.)]

Joseph Roth to Erika Mann, spring 1935

Bornon 9 November 1905 in Munich, Germany
Diedon 27 August 1969 in Zurich, Switzerland
ExileSwitzerland, United States of America
ProfessionJournalist, Actress, Writer

In exile, Erika Mann, the oldest daughter of Thomas Mann, became an eloquent, tireless campaigner against the ideology and crimes of National Socialism. As a drama pupil of Max Reinhardt, Erika Mann enjoyed numerous engagements at theatres in the Weimar Republic from the mid-1920s. In addition she worked as a journalist for magazines and newspapers, published two children's books and was involved in the theatre projects of her brother, Klaus Mann, with whom she also wrote two travel books. In response to the political radicalization of the public sphere, Erika Mann also entered the political stage from 1932.

She was forced into exile just two months after setting up the Pfeffermühle cabaret in January 1933. Yet in the four years of its existence until 1937, the Pfeffermühle became one of the most influential cultural activities of German emigration. The German citizenship of the "spiritual mother" of the Pfeffermühle, Erika Mann, was revoked on 8 June 1935 because of her "disparagement of Germany". After her uncle Heinrich and her brother Klaus, she was the third member of the Mann family to be expatriated. Erika Mann's response was to enter into a marriage of convenience with the English writer W.H. Auden, which allowed her to become a British citizen just one week later.

Following her relocation to the United States, Erika Mann began a new career in the spring of 1937 as a lecturer. She also published several books in which she expanded in great detail on the topics of her lectures.

After brief periods of work for the BBC and the American Office of Information, Erika Mann worked as an American war correspondent from 1943. Her work as a correspondent took her to Egypt, Palestine, France and led her eventually to Germany where, following the victory of the allies, she reported on the Nuremberg trials after the war.

Disillusioned by McCarthyism, Erika Mann returned in 1952 (together with her parents Thomas and Katia) to Switzerland and devoted himself in the ensuing years mainly to the work of her father and her brother Klaus.

Selection of important works:
Rundherum (1929) – mit Klaus Mann
Stoffel fliegt übers Meer (1932)
School for Barbarians / Zehn Millionen Kinder (1938)
Escape to Life. Deutsche Kultur im Exil (1939/1991) – mit Klaus Mann
The Lights Go Down (1940)

Further reading:
Die Kinder der Manns. Ein Familienalbum. Herausgegeben von Uwe Naumann in Zusammenarbeit mit Astrid Roffmann. Reinbek: Rowohlt Verlag 2005.
Keiser-Hayne, Helga: Beteiligt euch, es geht um eure Erde. Erika Mann und ihr politisches Kabarett die „Pfeffermühle“ 1933-1937. München, Edition Spangenberg 1990.
Lühe, Irmela von der: Erika Mann. Eine Biographie. 2. Auflage. Frankfurt/Main, Campus Verlag 1994.