In April 1966, the American-German Review published a supplement [pdf] dedicated to the upcoming visit of Gruppe 47 at Princeton, including the detailed program, a list of all persons invited, and a thumbnail sketch about Gruppe 47 by Theodore Ziolkowski.
Box 456 of the Office of the President’s Records at the Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton contains the folder “German Writers (Gruppe 47),” which has been declassified in 2006. The folder not only documents the financial details, but also the University President’s complete correspondence relating to the visit. He had to respond to political reservations from several sides, not least from the visitors, who were anxious not to receive any money from the U.S. government. Scott McVay, Assistant to the President, for example wrote the following note to President Robert F. Goheen on December, 31st 1965 about a conversation with Victor Lange, Chair of the German Department, who again had just spoken to Siegfried Unseld, head of the Suhrkamp Verlag.
Lange, just returned from the Midwest, reports the following: The prominent publisher Unzelt (phon.) of Frankfurt called, on behalf of Gp 47, and reported in a 30 minute conversation:
- That the writers could not be depended upon to stay in Princeton for a conference.
- A condition of their visit would be that no federal monies from the U.S. nor West Germany would pay their expenses. (Lange just got a letter from McCloy today indicating willingness to discuss support.)
- Although this is a heterogeneous group, Richter has issued several statements lately proclaiming the Group’s opposition to U.S. policy in Vietnam.
Since Group 47 has recently seemed to seek revolutionary status and since every move they make is closely observed in the int’l press, they might use Princeton to publish a political declaration. Mr. Lange is coming to the opinion that the university’s invitation must be withdrawn. Could he discuss this with you early this week.
For the debates within the group about the political implications of a visit to the United States see the chapter on Princeton in Dichter und Richter. Die Gruppe 47 und die deutsche Nachkriegsliteratur. Ausstellungskatalog, Akademie der Künste. Bearb. v. Jürgen Schutte. Berlin l988.
Press coverage of the trip of Gruppe 47 to Princeton was extensive and itself a topic journalists wrote about.
- J.P. Bauke, “Group 47 at Princeton”, The New York Times, May 15, 1966.
- The Daily Princetonian reported extensively about Gruppe 47, the one day conference on “The Writer in the Affluent Society,” and “What’s happening: The Arts in 1966”. For a variety of articles on both events see these excerpts.
- Erich Kuby: “Ach ja, da liest ja einer” in Der Spiegel 19/ 1966.
- Dieter E. Zimmer: “Gruppe 47 in Princeton” in DIE ZEIT Nr.19, Mai 6, 1966, ((pdf).
- Joachim Kaiser: “Startschuß in Amerika. Die Gruppe 47 tagt in Princeton” in Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 25, 1966.
Selected articles on the visit have been reprinted in Reinhard Lettau, Die Gruppe 47: Bericht, Kritik, Polemik: Ein Handbuch. Luchterhand, Neuwied 1967.
The event “What’s happening: The Arts 1966” was documented in a special issue of The Nassau Lit, of which the Ashbery Resource Center holds one of the rare copies. To see the schedule of events and a programmatic statement printed in The Nassau Lit click here.
- Dichter und Richter. Die Gruppe 47 und die deutsche Nachkriegsliteratur. Ausstellungskatalog, Akademie der Künste. Bearb. v. Jürgen Schutte. Berlin l988.
- Fetscher, Justus/ Eberhard Lämmert/ Jürgen Schutte (eds.): Die Gruppe 47 in der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik. Würzburg: Königshausen + Neumann, 1991.
- Gilcher-Holthey, Ingrid: “Askese schreiben, schreib: Askese”. Zur Rolle der Gruppe 47 in der politischen Kultur der Nachkriegszeit, in: Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur 2 (2000), 134-167.
- Kramer, Sven: Zusammenstoß in Princeton. Peter Weiss und die Gruppe 47, in: St. Braese (Hg.): Bestandsaufnahme. Studien zur Gruppe 47, Berlin: Königshausen und Neumann, 2000, 155-174.
- Lange, Victor: Die Gruppe 47 1966 in Princeton. In Dichter und Richter, 63-66.
- Lettau, Reinhard: Die Gruppe 47 : Bericht, Kritik, Polemik : Ein Handbuch. Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1967
- Parkes, Stuart / John J. White (eds.): The Gruppe 47. Fifty years on a re-appraisal of its literary and political significance. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999.
- Richter, Toni: Die Gruppe 47 in Bildern und Texten. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 1997.
- Office of the President Records: Robert F. Goheen Subgroup, 1924-1988 (bulk 1957-1972), Subseries 17H: Princeton University Conference, 1957-1972, Box 456, Folder 9. German Writers (Gruppe 47), 1966-1967.