“Escape to Life: German Intellectuals in New York,” a symposium sponsored by a consortium of cultural and educational institutions, will take place September 29-October 1 at the German Center for Research and Innovation (September 29, 871 United Nations Plaza [49th Street and 1st Avenue]) and New York University’s Deutsches Haus (September 30 and October 1, 42 Washington Mews at University Place).
The symposium is free and open to the public. Call 212.998.3660 for more information. Subways: the German Center for Research and Innovation (E: 5 Avenue and 53 Street; 6: 51st Street and Lexington Avenue); Deutsches Haus (6: Astor Place; R: 8th Street). For a complete schedule of sessions, click here.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the United States gave shelter to a large number of leading intellectuals from the German-speaking world, saving their lives in most of the cases. These public figures remained in New York, where most of them first arrived, or moved elsewhere in the U.S. Some of them, including Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, and Max Horkheimer, returned to Europe soon after WWII ended in 1945.
The symposium will explore the impact the U.S. and New York had on these authors and artists—both personally and professionally. The symposium’s speakers will analyze the influence these intellectuals had on American culture and the transformations in their thoughts when translated into another language, culture, and intellectual arena and before an American audience. The symposium will also discuss how those who returned passed on the American experience to Europe.
Sessions include: “Hannah Arendt’s Bi-Lingual Writing” (September 29, 4:15 p.m.); " '‘Voyage with Don Quixote’: Thomas Mann Between European Culture and American Politics,” (September 30, 4 p.m.); and “The Invention of Seeing: Soma Morgenstern Over Central Park” (October 1, 9:30 a.m.).
The symposium will also include a roundtable discussion (September 30, 6 p.m.) marking the opening of an exhibition, "Escape to Life: German Intellectuals in New York/The Photographs of Fred Stein". This event and the exhibition, which runs through November 30, will take place at 528 LaGuardia Place (between Bleecker and W. 3rd Streets). The exhibition is comprised of German exiles, including Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, and Albert Einstein, photographed by Fred Stein, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and is best known for his portrait of Einstein. The roundtable will include Fred’s son, Peter, head of production in the graduate film program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Kanbar Institute of Film & Television.
The symposium is co-sponsored by NYU’s German Department, NYU’s Deutsches Haus, the Humanities Initiative at NYU, the German Center for Research and Innovation, and Berlin’s Center for Library and Cultural Studies.