International Writers’ Congress for the Defence of Culture, Paris, 1935

Activist authors confronted by the great dictatorships was the theme of a Villa Aurora · Thomas Mann House event held in Berlin on 18th November 2021. Entitled ‘“Arten, der Zeit die Stirn zu bieten” – Lion Feuchtwanger und Heinrich Mann‘, the event opened with the following speech in English by the historian Edgar Feuchtwanger:

A panel of distinguished experts then discussed the challenges faced by Lion Feuchtwanger and Heinrich Mann in the mid-1930s, as exiled authors caught between the rock and the hard place of fascism and Stalinism.

The focal points of discussion were Lion Feuchtwanger’s interview with Stalin in 1937 and his resulting travel report Moskau 1937, and Heinrich Mann’s role as one of the de facto leaders of the group of German intellectuals who, from exile in France, resisted National Socialism through political initiatives and activist journalism. Their shared objective was to warn the international community about the dangers of totalitarianism.

Every year, Villa Aurora · Thomas Mann House, in cooperation with Reporters without Borders Germany and the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library (USC), awards the Feuchtwanger Fellowship for up to six months to a writer/journalist who defends human rights and/or is persecuted in their home countries. The Feuchtwanger Fellowship commemorates the efforts of exiled writers before and during World War II, and provides a reminder that censorship and suppression of free speech are still prevalent around the world.

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