From the S&S archives

Author Thomas Mann distinguishes between Nazism, pure communism

German author and Nobel laureate Thomas Mann, at a gathering in Frankfurt in July, 1949.


By HOWARD KENNEDY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 26, 1949

FRANKFURT, July 25 — There is a "certain moral difference" between pure communism and pure nazism, Thomas Mann declared today at his first German press interview since he fled Hitler's Third Reich 15 years ago.

"According to my way of thinking, nazism was entirely devilish nihilism," the famous German writer said in describing his attitude toward the two ideologies.

"But there is a certain moral difference between the ideas of nazism and communism. It is a tragedy that the Communist revolution in Russia became autocratic and did not free the Russian people."

After making this distinction between nazism and communism, Mann disclosed he has decided to accept the invitation of the city of Weimar, located in the Soviet Zone, to participate in its Johann Wolfgang Goethe bicentennial celebration.

Mann said he would not boycott the East zone, but would accept in a few days the Weimar tender of its Goethe prize and its offer of honorary citizenship. He said his prospective visit to Weimar would have no political significance.

"It might be regarded as a very unfriendly act if I would not go to Weimar," Mann concluded. "Anyway, a writer should feel free to go where he wants. At least it is possible for West and East Germany to get together on an intellectual basis."

The 74-year-old writer, who arrived yesterday from Switzerland, was scheduled to give a commemorative lecture on Goethe tonight in the Paulskirche as his acceptance of Frankfurt's annual Goethe literary prize of 10,000 marks, which he has donated to needy German students.

Now a U.S. citizen, Mann advised German youth to "stay in Germany" and assist in the physical and moral rebuilding of, the country.

Mann said that despite his American citizenship, he always has regarded himself as a good German and as a German writer.