Contact: Barbara Bryant (202) 707-9197
March 5, 1994
Professor Hans Rudolf Vaget To Deliver Fourth Carl Schurz Lecture at the Library of Congress
The fourth lecture in the Carl Schurz Lecture Series at the Library of Congress will be presented by Professor Hans Rudolf Vaget, Helen and Laura Shedd Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Professor Vaget will deliver his remarks on Friday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mumford Room (LM 649), on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E. Sponsored by the German-American Cultural Fund in cooperation with the Library of Congress, Professor Vaget's lecture, "The Tragic German Patriot: Thomas Mann's American Years," is open to the press. Seating is limited, however. Members of the public who wish to attend should call (202) 707-1616 for reservations.
The lecture series is named for Carl Schurz (1829-1906), who was a symbol of moral leadership and intellectual achievement for German-Americans. In his 1982 biography of Schurz, Professor Hans L. Trefousse, who gave the series' inaugural lecture of the series, characterized Schurz as "a bridge between Germany and America, a guide across that bridge for millions of immigrants." To later generations of immigrants, the life of Carl Schurz served as a reminder that economic opportunity was not the only reward that American offers.
Schurz was one of the young revolutionaries who tried to unite the German states under a liberal constitution in 1848. Prussian military intervention, however, shattered the dreams of these idealists, and Schurz found refuge in Switzerland and France. He emigrated to the United States in 1852 from his native Germany.
He settled on a farm in Wisconsin, near distant relatives, but his real love was politics, not farming. He soon became a well-known figure among the founders of the Republican Party in Wisconsin and was active in the support of Abraham Lincoln in the election of 1860. He went on to become U.S. minister to Spain, a major general in the Union Army, a reconstructionist Senator from Missouri, Secretary of the Interior in 1877-1881 (the first foreign-born Cabinet member in 70 years), a crusading journalist, abolitionist, and advocate of civil service reform.
The Carl Schurz papers, totaling some 24,500 items, were deposited in the Library of Congress in 1907; a significant addition to the collection was made in 1984, when the Arthur R. Hogue family donated letters that Agathe Schurz had withheld from the original deposit.
Professor Vaget, an internationally recognized authority on Thomas Mann, is the editor of the correspondence of Thomas Mann and Agnes E. Meyer and has authored books on Mann, Goethe, and Richard Wagner. He recently received the Thomas Mann Medal from the German Thomas Mann Society.
Born in Marienbad, Czechoslovakia, in 1938, Professor Vaget attended universities in Germany and Wales and was awarded his Ph.D summa cum laude in German from Columbia University where he later taught. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Irvine, and at Yale, Princeton, and Hamburg University. His March 18 lecture is based on research he conducted at the Library of Congress, the Thomas Mann Archive in Zurich and the Thomas Mann Collection at Yale.
The German-American Cultural Fund of Washington, D.C., is a private, nonprofit initiative supported by industry and private donors in the United States and in Germany for the purpose of promoting, sponsoring, and supporting important German cultural events in the nation's capital.
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