Thomas Mann Archives at ETH Zurich
The Thomas Mann Archives at ETH Zurich are an archive, exhibition facility and research center all rolled into one, and are open to specialists and interested members of the general public. They preserve and maintain the literary legacy of Thomas Mann and have been making his work accessible to academic researchers and the public ever since they were founded in 1956. The archives own most of Thomas Mann’s original holdings.
Thomas Mann’s first stop in exile was Switzerland, and he spent the final years of his life in Zurich. All three of Thomas Mann’s residences on Lake Zurich are still standing: Küsnacht (1933-1938), Erlenbach (1952-1954) and Kilchberg (1954-1955). They are privately owned and are not open to the public. Thomas Mann is buried in Kilchberg and stipulated that his estate remain in Switzerland. The close relationship between the Mann family and the then rector, Karl Schmid account for the ongoing connection between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and Thomas Mann. In 1955, on Mann’s 80th birthday, the ETH Zurich awarded him his only honorary doctorate in natural sciences. When Thomas Mann died two months later, and the community of heirs decided to donate Thomas Mann’s estate to Switzerland, his widow Katia immediately continued the good relationship with the ETH Zurich. In 1956, one year after Thomas Mann’s death, the Federal Council signed the deed of donation and the ETH Zurich founded the Thomas Mann Archives.
The Thomas Mann Archives today
The archives include all of the manuscripts of works left behind at the author’s death, as well as those acquired since by the archives, or received as gifts (602 handwritten manuscripts and 491 in typescript, including Doctor Faustus and two Joseph novels, a total of 110.000 manuscript/typescript pages), collections of material on the work, diaries and notebooks, correspondence (letters from Thomas Mann: 16,000 in original and copy, letters to Thomas Mann: 8,100 mostly originals, letters from and to family members: 6,200 mostly originals), extensive historical press documentation (87,000 documents), photographs (6,000) and iconography/graphics (400).The library includes Thomas Mann’s private library (estate library, 4,300), works by the author in German and in translation, numerous dedication copies and valuable first editions as well as secondary literature that focuses on Thomas Mann (research library, 25,000).
Resources and Program
The Thomas Mann Archives make Thomas Mann’s literary estate accessible to researchers and the public through comprehensive digitization: all manuscripts and press articles on Thomas Mann can be researched online in the metadata via www.online.tma.ethz.ch. In consultation with the rights holders S. Fischer Verlag and the community of heirs, parts of Thomas Mann’s manuscripts will be made available online in digital form every year until 2025.
Over 2,000 copyright-free photographs can be researched online via the image database https://tma.e-pics.ethz.ch. In addition, all marginalia made by Thomas Mann in his personal library can be researched electronically. The service has been available since September 2020 at https://nb-web.tma.ethz.ch/.
Due to copyright restrictions, not all the digitized documents can yet be displayed online, but they can be viewed by appointment in the reading room of the archives.
The permanent exhibition includes original furnishings from Thomas Mann’s last study in Kilchberg with his desk, private library, furniture, pictures, and many objects of art. A newly curated permanent exhibition is planned for the new location in the ETH main building and a temporary exhibition on Thomas Mann and Europe will also be on display (planned opening 2022).
Each year, an internationally renowned literary scholar will appear in the lecture series: Thomas Mann Lectures at ETH Zurich. The series aims to address fundamental issues relevant to our times that Thomas Mann had focused on in his works. Lectures are available online via the ETH Zurich video portal.
Funding and Partners
The Thomas Mann Archives are supported and financed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. They are accompanied by a board of trustees and are the domicile of the Thomas Mann Society Zurich.