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HISTORY BROUGHT ALIVE,
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This review is from: House of Exile: War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles (Hardcover)
The main protagonists of Evelyn Juers' moving account of prominent Germans abroad and in exile from Hitlers Third Reich are the literate Heinrich Mann and his wife the much younger Nelly née Kröger. He was the well known author of the Blue Angel and a great spokesman for humanitarian values, she an ex-bar maid and loyal supporter of her husband's ideals. We follow this unlikely couple into exile in France and the US and see how their destiny is closely linked with other prominent personalities of Weimar culture uprooted from German soil - Heinrich' brother Thomas, Alfred Döblin and Bertolt Brecht among others. Juers' meticulous description of their tragic destiny and her discrete use of fiction to enlighten the story really make the characters come alive. Many of the artists and friends of the Manns passing review in the book are Jews. Some managed to escape The Final Solution to the US, while others perished in the concentration camp or were killed on flight from the Gestapo. Juers's way of telling their story made a great impact on me. Her mixture of facts and fiction awoke my sympathy in a way that a pure "objective" history seldom does. Though she never moralizes, it is obvious that it is Heinrich Mann and his fighting humanism that is closest to Juers' heart and not the emotional detachment of his more famous brother Thomas. Common experience for all the exiles though seems to be their difficulty in making their voice heard in an alien culture. Freedom of speech does nor necessarily imply a greater audience.