Friday, 20 February 2009

A Suitcase Full of Mann

Berlin's Akademie der Künste is currently exhibiting facsimiles of Heinrich Mann's correspondence. Nut just any old correspondence, mind, but letters found in a suitcase in Prague. Mann's daughter Leonie had left it with friends when she fled the city in 1968 - and then seems to have forgotten about it. The case contained 16 letters from Heinrich Mann, 91 letters to him and various other personal documents. 48 of the letters were written by the French Germanist Félix Bertaux from 1922 to 1928.

The case was found and handed over nearly five years ago, but the Czech government considered it had a claim to the documents and has only now released them for use. Now researchers are hoping to find forgotten suitcases from Heinrich Mann's hurried escape from Berlin in 1933 - so if you live in Uhlandstraße you might want to check in the cellar. Michael Lentz' novel Pazifik Exil, incidentally, describes a later stage of Mann's journey from France to the USA - most amusingly - as well as the lives of Franz Werfel, Thomas Mann, Arnold Schönberg and Leon Feuchtwanger in their, um, Pacific exile. But Lentz doesn't seem to know where that other elusive suitcase went either.

1 comment:

David said...

What a great find!

Anyone interested in Heinrich Mann's "Pacific Exile" must read Salka Viertel's memoir "The Kindness of Strangers". There is a wonderful scene where Salka hosts a birthday celebration for Heinrich at her home in Santa Monica, and his more famous brother shows up to make a toast.