Digitization, Indexing, Cooperations

Heinrich Mann DIGITAL – A transnational reconstruction

Project duration: January 2019 – December 2021

Heinrich Mann: Outlines for the essay Zola in 1915,
on the back of an envelope from 5 March 1914

Until now, anyone who wants to study the manuscripts, notebooks and letters of Heinrich Mann in the archives has to travel to Berlin and Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Moscow, Zurich and Marbach, Prague and Munich. This fragmentation is no coincidence, but is instead the result of various circumstances: Among other things, it is a consequence of the ruptures and upheavals of the 20th century, which are reflected in the biography of Heinrich Mann himself. An international cooperation project is now enabling the first ever virtual consolidation of his archival holdings.

Heinrich Mann was elected to the Section for Poetry of the Prussian Academy of Arts in October 1926 and became its Director in January of 1931. As member and chairman of the Section he was committed – until his forced resignation and emigration on 21 February 1933 – to strengthening democracy, human rights and freedom of the arts, and his engagement played a decisive role in shaping the Academy. He remained true to his principles in subsequent years as well, as president of the Deutsche Freiheitsbibliothek and of the German Exile PEN in Paris as well as in exile in the U.S. since 1940.

Following his death in 1950, the individual segments of Heinrich Mann’s bequest, including his letters, found their circuitous way into the archives from Munich, Prague and various places of exile. After Heinrich Mann could no longer assume the presidency of the German Akademie der Künste (East) Alfred Kantorowicz built up the Heinrich Mann Archive as one of the original holdings of the Academy. During the Cold War period, the division of the holdings into East and West institutions made public access difficult.

An international cooperation project will now, for the first time ever, create a virtual consolidation and interlinkage of the extensive bequest of Heinrich Mann. In preparation of this ambitious endeavour, some 30,000 scans of material in the Literature Archives will be made by the end of 2021, which will subsequently be published in the digital showcase of the Akademie der Künste. This includes manuscripts, notebooks, business records, biographical documents, photos, family history records and visual artworks. Heinrich Mann’s letters will follow at a later date. In a second step, a portal will be developed in which the partial collections located in various archives around the world will be virtually consolidated with the archival holding in Berlin. This digital “puzzle” made up of different parts of the bequest will serve as a model project. With such a transnational showcase, the scattered literary holdings of the 20th century can be given new visibility, and can be structured and organised according to criteria such as chronology, holdings or location. This digital cooperation project will give corresponding impetus to edition philology, the study of visual art, literary history, Heinrich Mann and exile-related research as well as to provenance research and the reconstruction of how records are preserved and transferred.

The digitization of the Heinrich Mann bequest in the Literature Archives of the Akademie der Künste Berlin receives funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. It is carried out in cooperation between the Literature Archives and the fields media service, digital long-term archiving and conservation.

Project management: Dr. Gabriele Radecke, Head of the Literature Archives and Uta Simmons, Head of the Media Archive
Project collaboration: Christina Möller, Marieluise Nordahl, Susanne Reinhardt and Volkmar Ernst

The virtual portal “Heinrich Mann DIGITAL” is being developed in cooperation between the Heinrich Mann-Gesellschaft Lübeck, the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library (University of Southern California, Los Angeles), the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, the Thomas-Mann-Archiv (ETH Zurich), the Heinrich-und-Thomas-Mann-Zentrum Lübeck, the Museum of Czech Literature Prague, the Martin Bodmer Foundation in Geneva and the Monacensia in Munich, as well as in coordination with the ongoing edition projects and the publishing houses S. Fischer and Aisthesis.