Villa Aurora

Arnold Schoenberg, Berthold Brecht, Kurt Weill, Albert Einstein, the brothers Thomas and Heinrich Mann -- they all had one thing in common. They were all driven out of Europe by the Nazis, some of them temporarily, some of them for good. But all of them met again in Los Angeles, and one of their special places to meet was a mansion near the Pacific Coast called Villa Aurora. It had been built in 1927 by the Los Angeles Times and was bought 16 years later by author Leon Feuchtwanger, who was an émigré as well. The house with a scenic view on the ocean became an oasis for top intellectuals. Their social gatherings was not only attended by Europeans but also by American artists such as actor Charlie Chaplin. Lion Feuchtwanger died in 1958, and after his wife Marta had died in 1987, Villa Aurora was under threat of being sold to a university or even demolition. Luckily, German journalist and Feuchtwanger biographer Volker Skierka initiated a project to rescue the building, and four years ago, Villa Aurora once again became a meeting place for gifted artists and for the politically persecuted. It offers three-month scholarships for three artists at a time who live at Villa Aurora. Besides that, there is a nine-month scholarship for one politically persecuted writer at a time. The money is mainly furnished by the German government. Georg Hirsch went on a visit to Villa Aurora.

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