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Thomas Mann: By nature evil and harmful, war is destructive even to the victor


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Thomas Mann: Selections on war


Thomas Mann
From letter to Agnes E. Meyer
December 1, 1946


America as a whole is not in the happiest state – morally damaged by a war that was a necessity, but simply as a war was evil and harmful. Those are the antinomies in this vale of tears. Now we are experiencing a great lowering of morale, raw avarice, political reaction, race hatred, and all the signs of spiritual depression…As a German I am naturally inclined toward pessimism, and occasionally I fear having to go through the whole disaster, somewhat modified, once again. And then there would be no further exile – for where would I go?

From letter to Mr. Gray [unidentified)
October 12, 1947

At one time my faith in America’s humanitarian mission was very strong. In the last years it has been exposed to slight strains. Instead of leading the world, America appears to be resolved to buy it – which is also a very grandiose thing after its fashion, but does inspire less enthusiasm, you know. But even under these circumstances I still remain an American patriot, a fact which is confirmed to me by the grief I feel as I observe the growing unpopularity of America in the rest of the world. The American people are not responsible for this development and do not comprehend it. Those who try to explain the reasons for it are more and more reduced to silence. We can already see the first signs of terrorism, talebearing, political inquisition, and suspension of law, all of which are excused by an alleged state of emergency. As a German I can only say: That is the way it began among us, too.

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