In Exile

On May 10, 1933, in Berlin and all over Germany, the Nazi regime organized the burning of books deemed “un-german.” In this situation, many writers and scholars decided to go into exile and rescue German literature and culture from the Nazis. Princeton was one of the major hubs of activity. Some stayed longer, such as Kahler and Kantorowicz, others, like Thomas Mann and Hermann Broch, had shorter stays and moved on.


Erwin Panofsky (March 30, 1892 Hannover – March 14, 1968 Princeton)

Panofsky was a Privatdozent at the University of Hamburg since 1921. Beginning in 1927, he was the University’s first full professor in art history. From 1931 to 1934 he was a Visiting Professor of Fine Arts at New York University, spending alternate terms in New York and at the University of Hamburg. Dismissed in April 1933, he emigrated to the United States. Panofsky taught at Princeton and at NYU. In 1935, he joined the newly constituted humanities faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Panofsky taught at Princeton till his death on March 14, 1968.

See the entry on Panofsky on the website of the Institute for Advanced Studies.


Ernst Hartwig Kantorowicz (May 3, 1895 Poznań – Sept. 9, 1963 Princeton) was a historian of medieval political and intellectual history, known for his 1927 book Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite on Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, and in particular for The King’s Two Bodies (1957).

Kantorowicz held a chair at the University of Frankfurt. In 1933, he had to resign his university position. Upon leaving, he took up a teaching position for a short time at Oxford before moving to the University of California, Berkeley, in 1939. After a controversy prompted by his reaction to McCarthyism (he refused to take a loyalty oath required of all UC employees), he moved to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Not long after arriving in Princeton, he published The King’s Two Bodies.

Robert L. Benson, Johannes Fried (Hrsg.): Ernst Kantorowicz. Erträge der Doppeltagung Institute for Advanced Study, Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt. Steiner, Stuttgart 1997, (Frankfurter historische Abhandlungen 39).


Erich von Kahler ( October 14, 1885 Prague – June 28, 1970 Princeton)

Kahler was born in Prague. He studied philosophy, literature, history, art history, sociology, and psychology at Munich, Berlin, and Heidelberg before earning his doctorate at the University of Vienna in 1911, with a thesis titled Über Recht und Moral. In 1933 he left Germany, emigrating to the United States in 1938.

In the U.S. he taught at The New School for Social Research, Black Mountain College, Cornell University, and Princeton University, and was a member of the Instiute for Advanced Studies at Princeton.

A collection of his papers can be found in the Manuscripts Division of Firestone Library, Princeton. Also see the extensive Leo Baeck Institute archive on Kahler.


Hermann Broch, (November 1, 1886 Vienna – May 30, 1951 New Haven)

Broch was arrested on the day of the German annexation of Austria, March 12th, 1938 and detained briefly. With the help of James Joyce and other writers, Broch was allowed to emigrate from Nazi Austria. He moved to London, then to Scotland, and finally to the United States, where he settled first in Princeton, New Jersey, to stay there with his friend Erich von Kahler at his home on Evelyn Place, 1, from 1942 to 1948. Here, he wrote Der Tod des Vergil, which was published both in German and English in 1945.


Thomas Mann (June 6, 1875 Lübeck – August 12, 1955 Zürich)

Thomas Mann, the self-exiled German novelist and winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature lived in Princeton for two and a half years. During the academic years 1938-1940, he held the position of Lecturer in Humanities at Princeton, financed principally by the Rockefeller Foundation. The University made him a doctor of Letters honoris causa in May 1939.

At Princeton, he delivered seven major lectures in English:

  • Goethe’s “Faust” (11/28/1938)
  • Richard Wagner and “The Ring of the Nibelung” (1/17/1939)
  • Freud and the Future (2/13/1939)
  • An Introduction to “The Magic Mountain” (5/10/1939)
  • Goethe’s “Werther” (11/17/1939)
  • On Myself (5/2/1940)
  • The Art of the Novel (5/9/1940)

While living in Princeton, he completed Lotte in Weimar and started the fourth volume of the Joseph tales.

The Firestone Library holds the Molly Shenstone Collection which includes correspondence, photographs, souvenirs, printed material, and other miscellanea collected by Molly Shenstone about Thomas Mann.


Erich Auerbach (November 9, 1892 Berlin – October 13, 1957 Wallingford)

Erich Auerbach emigrated to Turkey in 1936 and moved to the United States in 1947, where he first taught at Pennsylvania State College. In 1949, he came to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton for one year. The “Princeton Seminars in Literary Criticsm”, now called the “Gauss Seminars in Criticism”, formally began on October 6, 1949 with Erich Auerbach’s series on Pascal, Baudelaire, and Flaubert. Ernst Robert Curtius, the author of Europäische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter, and one of his favorite critics, was in the audience.


Hannah Arendt – (October 14, 1906 Hannover – December 4, 1975 New York)

Hannah Arendt emigrated to the United States in 1941. In October and November 1953, she gave six Lectures as part of the “Gauss Seminars on Criticism” on “Karl Marx and the Tradition of Western Political Thought”. She was the first woman to be invited to give a Gauss seminar. In spring 1959, she came back to Princeton as a Visiting Professor, lecturing on “The United States and the Revolutionary Spirit” (resulting in the book On Revolution, in German Ü!ber die Revolution).