artists in exile

When the homeland becomes foreign, the foreign becomes the homeland.”

Thomas Mann on Heinrich Mann’s 70th birthday, during a gathering at Salka Viertel’s.

This text by Núria Añó is part of a longer essay titled “The Mother Tongue in Foreign Lands”. It was read at Shanghai Writers’ Association in China on September 11, 2016 and published at Wenhui Daily. Later in 2020, a biography on Jewish scriptwriter and salonnière Salka Viertel was first published in Spanish as EL SALÓN DE LOS ARTISTAS EXILIADOS EN CALIFORNIA. Then it was translated into English as THE SALON OF EXILED ARTISTS IN CALIFORNIA and into Greek as Το σαλόνι των εξόριστων καλλιτεχνών στην Καλιφόρνια.

A biography on Salka Viertel

Salka Viertel was an exiled Jewish woman well-known in Hollywood in the thirties as a specialist on Greta Garbo scripts. [1]

When she first arrived in the United States of America, her communication with the English-speaking Americans was like a silent film: she had to gesture with hands or spoke simply with the gaze, smiling and pulling a long face to be understood.

Like her, most of the European artists who emigrated to the U.S. because of the Nazism were so creative in their mother tongues that to confine themselves in America to small words in English was a constant torment.

Also, she was impelled by the foreign land to learn English as an adult in order to find a job. But her mother tongue was always very close to her life as a salonnière.

Salka’s salon

On Sunday afternoons her home in California welcomed many composers, film and theater directors, actors, physicians and writers.

Salka’s salon was a place to speak with others in their native language. Her house was a shelter and a refuge for the intellectual freedom of those removed from their homeland.

Her guest of honor, the German writer Thomas Mann, who sought refuge in Switzerland before being exiled in the U.S., wrote in 1941: “When the homeland becomes foreign, the foreign becomes the homeland.”[2]

[1] Queen Christina, The Painted Veil, Anna Karenina, Maria Walewska or Two-Faced Woman.

[2] On Heinrich Mann’s 70th birthday, during a gathering at Salka Viertel’s.

Read an excerpt of “The Salon of Exiled Artists in California” by Núria Añó

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The biography on Salka Viertel “The Salon of Exiled Artists in California” is available in these languages:

ESPAÑOL EL SALÓN DE LOS ARTISTAS EXILIADOS EN CALIFORNIA (Salka Viertel acogió en su exilio a actores, intelectuales prominentes y personas anónimas huidas del nazismo): 2020 ISBN: 9780463996102 (eBook) 1658631633 / 9781658631631 (Paperback)

ENGLISH THE SALON OF EXILED ARTISTS IN CALIFORNIA (Salka Viertel Took in Actors, Prominent Intellectuals and Anonymous People in Exile Fleeing From Nazism): 2020 ISBN: 9780463206126 (eBook) 9798647624079 (Paperback)

GREEK Το σαλόνι των εξόριστων καλλιτεχνών στην Καλιφόρνια (Η Σάλκα Βίρτελ πρόσφερε άσυλο στο σπίτι της σε ηθοποιούς, σε διαπρεπείς διανοούμενους και σε ανώνυμα άτομα που τράπηκαν σε φυγή από τον ναζισμό): 2020 ISBN: 9781071555637 (eBook)

DEUTCH DER SALON DER EXILKÜNSTLER IN KALIFORNIEN (Salka Viertel beherbergte in ihrem Exil Schauspieler, berühmte Intellektuelle und anonyme Personen, die vor dem Nationalsozialismus geflüchtet waren): 2020 ISBN: 9781071576700 (eBook)



“A very interesting story and I think even in these very current times since in my eyes we have not made much progress on the issue of acceptance of ‘interpersonal feelings’ in general. A great and extremely interesting book about Hollywood in the thirties and forties about the influence of artists from European countries such as Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, England, Ukraine and others. An extensive and high-quality research project resulting in an in-depth account of many well-known and famous personalities and their interpersonal relationships.”-Joannes W. M. Groenewege, Translator

“Even though Salka Viertel was such a pivotal figure in the exile community very little has been written about her, so Núria Añó’s book is a corrective, and she fills in many of the gaps of ‘The Kindness of Strangers'” -Dialog International

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