Jun 17, 2021 - Sale 2573

Sale 2573 - Lot 143

Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 20,000
TO HIS CHILDREN ON THEIR BOOK ABOUT THE CULTURE OF EXILES MANN, THOMAS. Autograph Letter Signed, "Your Father," to Erika and Klaus Mann ("Dear Children"), in German, expressing approval of the stance taken in their book on the subject of the relationship between Germany and those who fled it, reflecting on the errors of German leadership and the fragility of freedom, acknowledging the recent progress made by the German spirit both inside and outside Germany, and anticipating a warm reception of the book. 3 pages, 4to, written on the versos of separate sheets of personal stationery; small hole in third leaf affecting a few letters of text, horizontal fold. Np, [December 1938]

Additional Details

"You, my two eldest, have written a book after my own heart. You know that; for you know that I have thwarted all attempts to separate me from the German emigrants and to give me a separate, questionable position among them, that I have emphasized my relationship to them, and that for years I did so because I did not want the rulers of Germany to hesitate any longer to 'expatriate' me too,--as they had already 'expatriated' you and my brother. They did not hesitate longer.
"Your book is a book of solidarity on which I then insisted. Let it be a solidarity not alone in suffering and in pride, but in guilt as well. German freedom and the Weimar republic have been destroyed; we, you and I, are not altogether guiltless in that matter--though surely we may disclaim any part or lot in the degradation and shame which ensued. Mistakes were made, of omission and commission; that we cannot deny. The spiritual leaders of the Republic did not err, perhaps, on the side of the spirit; but they did so in the matter of leadership and the consciousness of their responsibility. Freedom is sometimes compromised . . . . Freedom is complex, it is delicate--far more delicate than force. . . . We German intellectuals were new to freedom, we were politically very young and inexperienced--as young as you were then in actual years.
". . . Knowing the deep soundness of your natures, I have always interpreted the hatred displayed toward you, my children, and that toward myself, as a sign . . . of the wicked brainlessness of the rising tide of brutality in Germany. Now, in your growing strength . . . I can trace an equal progress, political and social, which the German spirit made by its very banishment. . . ."
Published in Erika and Klaus Mann's Escape to Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939) 76-77.
Thomas Mann is perhaps best known by those outside Germany as a leader of the literary movement formed by German intellectuals exiled by the rise of the Nazi regime. When Mann read the manuscript of the book written by two of his children on the subject of the culture being generated by these exiles, Escape to Life, Mann wrote his reactions in a letter to the authors, who then inserted into the book an English translation of the letter to introduce a chapter on their father.