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Friendship in tumultuous times? Steinmeier opens Thomas Mann House in US

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Friendship in tumultuous times? Steinmeier opens Thomas Mann House in US
President Steinmeier at the Thomas Mann House in LA on Monday. Photo: DPA
12:14 CEST+02:00
At the inauguration of a memorial at Thomas Mann's former home in California on Monday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was present and spoke of similarities between Germany and America despite current tensions.

"The struggle for democracy, the struggle for a free and open society is what will continue to unite us, the United States and Germany," Steinmeier said on his first trip to the States since he became German President last year.

Inaugurating the former home of the Nobel Prize laureate in Los Angeles during “these tumultuous times also marks a wonderful moment for friendship between our two countries,” the ceremonial head of state added.

SEE ALSO: President Steinmeier sees 'substantial change' in trans-Atlantic ties

The Thomas Mann House should become a place of cultural and social exchange "in times when many things divide us across the Atlantic," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement on Tuesday.  

"The United States is our most important partner outside Europe. Only together can we tackle global problems," Maas said, adding that “an intensive dialogue on the issues that concern us is so important.”

READ ALSO: Why Trump is wrong (again) on migrants and crime in Germany

With plans of turning it into a transatlantic meeting location and memorial site, the German government saved the Californian villa from demolition and acquired it in 2016 at costs of nearly €11 million. In his role as Germany's foreign minister at the time, Steinmeier supported the idea of the building being bought by the state.

When novelist and short story writer Thomas Mann resided in the home from 1942 to 1952, it became a meeting place for famous artists and intellectuals through its residency programme.

Some of the Nobel Prize-winning author's works include The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks and Joseph and his Brothers. The Lübeck native fled from Germany to Switzerland when the Nazis came to power in 1933 and moved across the pond to the US in 1938.

He went on to become a leading figure of exiled German intellectuals. "Germany is wherever I am," he told his supporters.

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