The mon­u­ment to the Mann fam­i­ly con­sists of an assem­bly of street signs named after mem­bers of the Mann fam­i­ly as well as street­lamps from those streets. The signs and lamps come from Munich, where Mann spent a major­i­ty of his life, but also from oth­er cities and places relat­ed to the Mann fam­i­ly world­wide.

The inter­na­tion­al­i­ty of the fam­i­ly is reflect­ed in the signs and lights – begin­ning in Munich and radi­at­ing out to oth­er cities in Europe, the USA, and South Amer­i­ca – as well as the family’s world­wide lit­er­ary pres­ence and sig­nif­i­cance. This is also evi­dent from the dif­fer­ent street names (Via, Rue, Rua). The arrange­ment is based on the topo­graph­i­cal posi­tion of the indi­vid­ual cities in rela­tion to one anoth­er and forms an imag­i­nary map. The mon­u­ment address­es the com­mit­ment to a spe­cif­ic place but also aspects of emi­gra­tion, mobil­i­ty and fre­quent change of place as well as transna­tion­al cos­mopoli­tanism, for which the fam­i­ly can be regard­ed as a fore­run­ner and exam­ple.

The point of depar­ture is Munich, the cen­ter of the family’s life for many years, where there are sev­er­al streets and squares named after mem­bers of the fam­i­ly: Thomas Mann but also Eri­ka, Klaus, Elis­a­beth and Golo. Some of these streets are locat­ed in less-fre­quent­ed neigh­bor­hoods, new hous­ing estates or on the periph­ery and thus have lit­tle pres­ence in the col­lec­tive mem­o­ry. These street signs, togeth­er with the street­lamps to which they are attached, are brought to the cen­ter of the city and assem­bled as a group at the Sal­va­tor­platz (Sal­va­tor Square), where they are more vis­i­ble and come into con­tact with one anoth­er in a kind of “fam­i­ly reunion.” At the same time, they refer back to their orig­i­nal loca­tions so that the mon­u­ment as a whole empha­sizes its con­nec­tion to urban struc­tures.


A new sign will be cre­at­ed for Katia Mann, for whom no street has yet been named. This will make “Mrs. Thomas Mann” more vis­i­ble in rela­tion to the city in which she was born and whose fam­i­ly – the  Jew­ish Pring­sheim fam­i­ly – like the Manns, lost their prop­er­ty and had to emi­grate. Giv­ing her a street name in the mon­u­ment antic­i­pates what would oth­er­wise be a lengthy process. This mix­ture of real­i­ty and fic­tion ref­er­ences lit­er­ary pro­ce­dures prac­ticed by Thomas and Klaus Mann.


Cir­ca fif­teen street signs and street­lights are planned. In addi­tion to those from Munich, oth­ers will demon­strate the span between Europe and North and South Amer­i­ca and will estab­lish con­nec­tions. One street sign comes from Paris. Anoth­er from the city of Lübeck, the birth­place of Thomas Mann as well as the set­ting for Bud­den­brooks. A street­lamp and sign from Klaus-Mann-Platz in Frank­furt (the loca­tion of a mon­u­ment to per­se­cut­ed homo­sex­u­als) serves as a ref­er­ence to an aspect of the iden­ti­ty of sev­er­al fam­i­ly mem­bers. Rome is present as the res­i­dence of Thomas (and Hein­rich) Mann at a young age. The South Amer­i­can link (Thomas Mann’s moth­er Julia came from Brazil) is rep­re­sent­ed by a street­lamp and sign from São Paulo. One lamp will come from Nida, Lithua­nia, the pre­ferred sum­mer retreat of the Mann fam­i­ly. A lamp from Sanary-Sur-Mer on the Côte d’Azur, the first place the fam­i­ly emi­grat­ed to in the 1930s, rep­re­sents the fam­i­ly as a whole. Two street­lamps come from the Unit­ed States: one from New York, near the for­mer Hotel Bed­ford, where mem­bers of the Mann fam­i­ly stayed. Anoth­er from San Remo Dri­ve in Los Ange­les refers to the vil­la Thomas Mann built there in 1942, in which he lived until his return to Europe. A street­lamp from Kilch­berg near Zurich estab­lish­es a link to the res­i­dence of Thomas and Katia as well as Eri­ka (for whom a street in Zurich is named) and final­ly Golo.

Research trips to the respec­tive loca­tions are part of the project, as is a book pub­li­ca­tion that doc­u­ments, con­veys and sup­ple­ments the back­ground and devel­op­ment of the mon­u­ment, includ­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tions of the street signs and street­lights on site.