In the 1930s and 40s, Los Angeles became an unlikely cultural sanctuary for a distinguished group of German artists and intellectuals—including Thomas Mann, Theodore W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Arnold Schoenberg—who had fled Nazi Germany. During their years in exile, they would produce a substantial body of major works to address the crisis of modernism that resulted from the rise of National Socialism. Weimar Germany and its culture, with its meld of eighteenth-century German classicism and twentieth-century modernism, served as a touchstone for this group of diverse talents and opinions.
Weimar on the Pacific is the first book to examine these artists and intellectuals as a group. Ehrhard Bahr studies selected works of Adorno, Horkheimer, Brecht, Lang, Neutra, Schindler, Döblin, Mann, and Schoenberg, weighing Los Angeles’s influence on them and their impact on German modernism. Touching on such examples as film noir and Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, Bahr shows how this community of exiles reconstituted modernism in the face of the traumatic political and historical changes they were living through.
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1. The Dialectic of Modernism
2. Art and Its Resistance to Society: Theodor W. Adornno's Aethetic Theory
3. Bertolt Brecht's California Poetry: Mimesis or Modernism?
4. The Dialectic of Modern Science: Brecht's Galileo
5. Epic Theater versus Film Noir: Bertolt Bretcht and Fritz Lang's Anti-Nazi Film Hangmen Also Die
6. California Modern as Immigrant Modernism: Architects Richard Neutra and Rudolph M. Schnidler
7. Between Modernism and Antimodernism: Franz Werfel
8. Renegade Modernism: Alfred Döblin's Novel Karl and Rosa
9. The Political Battleground of Exile Modernism: The Council for a Democratic Germany
10. Evil Germany versus Good Germany: Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustuc
11. A "True Modernist.": Arnold Schoenberg
Conclusion: The Weimar Legacy of Los Angeles
Ehrhard Bahr is distinguished professor emeritus of German at UCLA.
“This is a wonderful book. . . . The writing is distinguished by a profound knowledge of its many subjects, an infectious interest, and a sharp eye for telling details, all of which bring the material alive.”—Modern Language Review
“An excellent study . . . that will broaden our understanding of German exile culture in North America.”—Mark Grzeskowiak Seminar: A Journal Of Germanic Stds
“[Bahr] demonstrates superb research and communicates great affection for this odd gaggle of talent.”—National Post
“Erhard Bahr’s Weimar on the Pacific provides a fascinating portrait of the German exiles who took refuge in Los Angeles during World War II.”—Barbara McCloskey German Studies Review
“A brilliant tour de force of intellectual history and cultural criticism, both audacious and accomplished.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Thoroughly researched . . . engaging chapters.”—Bookforum
"Ehrhard Bahr's sophisticated introduction to the Los Angeles of the émigrés from Nazi Germany is a quintessential 'Hollywood' book: brilliant in casting, sunny in disposition, with hidden film noir touches. Bahr's reading of the central books of this world, by Bert Brecht, Thomas Mann, Alfred Döblin, his insights into Fritz Lang's films and Arnold Schoenberg's operas, make this a major contribution to American, German and world culture."—Sander L. Gilman, author of Bertolt Brecht's Berlin
“At long last, émigré Los Angeles has been interpreted from the inside by an accomplished scholar of modern German culture. Weimar on the Pacific
is a study of relevance to California, the nation, and contemporary Europe.”—Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California