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Heinrich Mann

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Heinrich Mann
Heinrich Mann in his "Munich years" (1894–1899)
Heinrich Mann in his "Munich years" (1894–1899)
BornLuiz Heinrich Mann
(1871-03-27)March 27, 1871
Free City of Lübeck, German Empire
DiedMarch 11, 1950(1950-03-11) (aged 78)
Santa Monica, California, US
OccupationNovelist, essayist
Notable worksDer Untertan
Professor Unrat
RelativesThomas Johann Heinrich Mann (father)
Júlia da Silva Bruhns (mother)
Thomas Mann (brother)

Luiz Heinrich Mann (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈman] ; March 27, 1871 – March 11, 1950), best known as simply Heinrich Mann, was a German writer known for his socio-political novels. From 1930 until 1933, he was president of the fine poetry division of the Prussian Academy of Arts. His fierce criticism of the growing Fascism and Nazism forced him to flee Germany after the Nazis came to power during 1933. He was the elder brother of writer Thomas Mann.

Early life[edit]

Heinrich Mann with his brother Thomas, 1902

Born in Lübeck, as the oldest child of Senator Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann, grain merchant and finance minister of the Free City of Lübeck, a state of the German Empire, and Júlia da Silva Bruhns. He was the elder brother of the writer Thomas Mann with whom he had a lifelong rivalry.[1][2] The Mann family was an affluent family of grain merchants of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck. After the death of his father, his mother relocated the family to Munich, where Heinrich began his career as a freier Schriftsteller (free writer). In 1914, he married a Czech actress, Maria "Mimi" Kanova. They divorced in 1930. Mimi died from the consequences of a five-year detention in the concentration camp Theresienstadt.


Mann's essay on Émile Zola and the novel Der Untertan (published over the years 1912–1918) earned him much respect during the Weimar Republic in the left-wing circles, since they demonstrated the author's anti-war and deafeatist stance during the World War I, and since the latter satirized Imperial German society; both the novel and the essay became a major impulse for Thomas Mann to write Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, a work supporting the efforts of the German Empire in the war and condemning Heinrich as one of "Civilisation's Literary Men" (Zivilisationsliteraten), the writers who served the West in its struggle against German "Culture"; later Thomas called the novel an example of "national slander" and "ruthless ruthless aestheticism", while the novel had such admirers as Kurt Tucholsky. During the revolution, Heinrich became a major supporter of Kurt Eisner, a social democrat revolutionary who proclaimed Bavaria a Socialist republic; after Eisner's assassination by a far-right activist, Mann spoke at Eisner's funeral.[3]

Later, in 1930, his book Professor Unrat was freely adapted into the movie Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel). Carl Zuckmayer wrote the script, and Josef von Sternberg was the director. Mann wanted his paramour, the actress Trude Hesterberg, to play the main female part as the "actress" Lola Lola (named Rosa Fröhlich in the novel), but Marlene Dietrich was given the part, her first sound role.

Together with Albert Einstein and other celebrities during 1932, Mann was a signatory to the "Urgent Call for Unity", asking the voters to reject the Nazis. Einstein and Mann had previously co-authored a letter during 1931 condemning the murder of Croatian scholar Milan Šufflay.

Mann became persona non grata in Nazi Germany and left even before the Reichstag fire of 1933. He went to France where he lived in Paris and Nice. During the German occupation, he made his way to Marseille, where he was aided by Varian Fry in September 1940 to escape to Spain. Assisted by Justus Rosenberg, he and his wife Nelly Kröger, his nephew Golo Mann, Alma Mahler-Werfel and Franz Werfel hiked for six hours across the border at Port Bou. After arriving in Portugal, the group stayed in Monte Estoril, at the Grande Hotel D'Itália, between September 18 and October 4, 1940.[4] On October 4, 1940, they boarded the S.S. Nea Hellas, headed for New York City.

The Nazis burnt Heinrich Mann's books as "contrary to the German spirit" during the infamous book burning of May 10, 1933, which was instigated by the then Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

Later life[edit]

Mann's grave in Berlin

During the 1930s and later in American exile, Mann's literary popularity waned. Nevertheless, he wrote Die Jugend des Königs Henri Quatre and Die Vollendung des Königs Henri Quatre as part of the Exilliteratur. The two novels described the life and importance of Henry IV of France and were acclaimed by his brother Thomas Mann, who spoke of the "great splendour and dynamic art" of the work. The plot, based on Europe's early modern history from a French perspective, anticipated the end of French–German enmity.

His second wife, Nelly Mann [de] (1898–1944), died by suicide in Los Angeles.

Heinrich Mann died on March 11, 1950, sixteen days before his 79th birthday, in Santa Monica, California, lonely and without much money, just months before he was to relocate to East Berlin to become president of the German Academy of Arts. His ashes were later taken to East Germany and were interred at the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery in a grave of honor.

Popular culture[edit]

Mann was portrayed by Alec Guinness in the television adaptation of Christopher Hampton's play Tales from Hollywood (1992).

In Die Manns – Ein Jahrhundertroman (2001) he was played by Jürgen Hentsch.

Film adaptations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Heinrich Mann". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on September 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Kontje, Todd (2015), Castle, Gregory (ed.), "Mann's Modernism", A History of the Modernist Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 311–326, ISBN 978-1-107-03495-2, retrieved August 25, 2023
  3. ^ https://spartacus-educational.com/Heinrich_Mann.htm
  4. ^ Exiles Memorial Center.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gross, David: The Writer and Society: Heinrich Mann and Literary Politics in Germany, 1890–1940, Humanities Press, New Jersey, 1980, (ISBN 0-391-00972-9)
  • Hamilton, Nigel: The Brothers Mann: The Lives of Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Yale University Press, (1978), (ISBN 9780300026689)
  • Juers, Evelyn: House of Exile: The Life and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann, Giramondo Publishing Co., Australia, 2008, (ISBN 978-1-920882-44-0)
  • Mauthner, Martin: German Writers in French Exile, 1933–1940, Vallentine Mitchell, London, 2007, (ISBN 978-0-85303-540-4).
  • Walter Fähnders/Walter Delabar: Heinrich Mann (1871–1950). Berlin 2005 (Memoria 4)
  • Heinrich Mann's life in California during World War II, including his relationship with Nelly Mann, Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht, is a subject of Christopher Hampton's play Tales from Hollywood, where he was played in film by Jeremy Irons (BBC Video Performance: “Tales from Hollywood”, 1992) and on stage by Keir Dullea (Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2012).

External links[edit]