Luminaire from Sanary arrived

A few days ago, the muni­cip­al­ity of San­ary-sur-Mer in the south of France made a con­tri­bu­tion to the memori­al for the Mann fam­ily with the lamp or can­de­labra, as his­tor­ic­al lamps are often called. In autumn 2020, I vis­ited the former emig­ra­tion site of the Mann family.

The can­de­labra came well packed from the Fonder­ie de Roquevaire, which had restored it, and was received at the Bauhof in Munich, meas­ured – and labelled. As a small side effect, the let­ters in my name got mixed up and I became a „Cors(ican)“.

Lecture: A Memorial for the Mann Family, Conference „On Site: Memory, Exile, Migration“, 3.9.2021

Dieses Bild hat ein leeres Alt-Attribut. Der Dateiname ist Screenshot-2021-08-30-at-17-08-56-Erinnerung-Exil-Migration-1024x214.png

On 3.9.2021 Albert Coers will give a lec­ture on the memori­al for the Mann fam­ily, at the online con­fer­ence „Vor Ort: Erin­ner­ung, Exil, Migra­tion“, annu­al con­fer­ence of the Gesell­schaft für Exil­forschung in cooper­a­tion with the NS-Dok­u­ment­a­tion­szen­trum München, 3.–4.9.2021.

The annu­al con­fer­ence 2021 deals with places of exile and migra­tion and their rela­tion to cul­tures of memory and stim­u­lates exchange between exile research and oth­er research fields deal­ing with (forced) migra­tion and flight.

More inform­a­tion, pro­gram and regis­tra­tion here.

Concept

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.

Names

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. 

Lights

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.

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 (Clegg & Guttmann, Albert Coers, Annika Kahrs, Michaela Meise, Michaela Melián, Olaf Nic­olai, Timm Ulrichs, Paloma Varga Weisz).
The monu­ment is expec­ted to be com­pleted by the end of 2023.

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.