Competition

On April 10, 2019, Munich’s City Coun­cil voted to real­ize artist Albert Coers’ design for a monu­ment in hon­or of the Mann fam­ily at the Sal­vat­or­platz (Sal­vat­or Square) in Munich. Coers’concept, entitled Streets Names Lights, was selec­ted by an expert jury with­in the frame­work of a com­pet­i­tion for Art in Pub­lic Space organ­ized by Munich’s Cul­tur­al Depart­ment. Coers was one of eight inter­na­tion­al artists invited to sub­mit a pro­pos­al.

The erec­tion of a memori­al to Thomas Mann was first ini­ti­ated by the City Coun­cil in 2015: “The Munich cit­izen and import­ant author Thomas Mann deserves a vis­ible place of hon­or in the city which he made the cen­ter of his life. He lived here for a very long time, mar­ried here, built a house. He wanted to stay here.”

Since then, the scope of the memori­al has expan­ded to include his fam­ily: “In addi­tion to Thomas Mann’s his­tor­ic­al sig­ni­fic­ance for Munich, it has become clear that the them­at­ic focus must not be lim­ited to Thomas Mann alone. An artist­ic appre­ci­ation of the Nobel Prize win­ner without regard to his fam­ily con­text would be an exclu­sion of many inter­est­ing facets. For a broad­er, per­man­ent artist­ic upgrad­ing of pub­lic space, the lit­er­ary sig­ni­fic­ance of the entire Mann fam­ily must now be taken into account.” (com­pet­i­tion brief)

Monika, Michael, Golo, Katia, Thomas, Elisa­beth, Erika, Klaus Mann, 1927, Mon­acensia Archive


Loc­a­tion

The site for the monu­ment, Sal­vat­or­platz, is situ­ated in the imme­di­ate vicin­ity of the Lit­er­at­urhaus (Lit­er­at­ure House), one of Munich’s cent­ral addresses for lit­er­at­ure and lit­er­ary exchange. The square is loc­ated in the old town between the Lit­er­at­urhaus, the Sal­vat­or­gar­a­gen (a land­marked park­ing gar­age from the 1960s) and the Sal­vat­orkirche (Sal­vat­or Church) to the south­east.

The Manns and Munich

The idea of erect­ing a monu­ment to Thomas Mann and his fam­ily at a cent­ral loc­a­tion in Munich has its roots in the import­ance of the city for the fam­ily – includ­ing the family’s ambi­val­ent rela­tion­ship to it – as well as the fact that the fam­ily has not yet had the pres­ence it deserves in the vis­ible cul­ture of memory.

Born in Lübeck in 1875, Thomas Mann came to Munich as a young man in 1894 and lived here for over 30 years. Here he met his wife Katia Pring­sheim and here is where their chil­dren – Erika, Klaus, Golo, Monika, Elisa­beth and Michael – were born. Most of Mann’s lit­er­ary works were writ­ten here.

After the Nation­al Social­ists seized power in 1933, the Mann fam­ily was forced to emig­rate and lived in exile for almost twenty years – first in Europe, then in the USA. The family’s villa in Munich’s Poschin­gen­straße was con­fis­cated and Thomas Mann expro­pri­ated.

In 1952, Mann finally returned to Europe, to Switzer­land – a return to Munich was com­pletely out of the ques­tion for him. Already in decay, his former res­id­ence was torn down by the City of Munich with his per­son­al con­sent. Thomas Mann’s estate was bequeathed to the ETH (Swiss Fed­er­al Insti­tute of Tech­no­logy) in Zurich. The extens­ive lit­er­ary her­it­age of his chil­dren Klaus, Erika, Michael, Monika and Elisa­beth Mann is archived in the Hildebrand­haus of the Mon­acensia (lit­er­ary archives and research lib­rary) in Munich’s Bogen­hausen neigh­bor­hood.