German Exiles in Southern California

L.A. as Subject's latest contribution to KCET's SoCal Focus blog features historical images of German-speaking exiles and émigrés who escaped war and persecution in Europe for the safety of Southern California:

In the 1930s and 1940s, as the horrors of Nazi Germany engulfed the European continent, Los Angeles became a sanctuary for some of Europe's most celebrated artists and intellectuals. Playwright Bertolt Brecht, author Thomas Mann, and composer Arnold Schoenberg all made Southern California their home in the years surrounding World War II and—drawn by the region's favorable climate and the economic opportunities afforded by the Hollywood film industry—scores of other German-speaking exiles joined them.

Next week, scholars from around the world will convene at the University of Southern California for the fifth biennial conference of the International Feuchtwanger Society. From Wednesday, September 14 through Friday, September 16, historians, librarians, and other experts will discuss the experiences of the artists, intellectuals, and other German-speaking exiles who fled persecution in Nazi-controlled Europe for the safety of Southern California.

Although many chose to return to Europe after the Second World War's conclusion—a decision that is the theme of the upcoming conference—others remained, closing out their illustrious careers near the Mediterranean shores of California. Today, our region's archives preserve the record of these exiles and émigrés.

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