1940-1945: Exile in USA

1940 –In February, publication by the publisher New York Longmans Green of a selection of text from Alfred Doblin’s Confucius.
In February, Alfred, Erna and Stephan leave the house in Marly le Roi and move into a two room apartment in Saint-Germain en Laye, 19 rue Diderot.

May 26, Erna and Stephan leave Saint Germain en Laye for Le Puy where they settle in a pension. They leave Le Puy on June 21, Armistice Day, to join via Rodez, Bordeaux, the temporary seat of the French authorities, hoping in vain to find Alfred. They remain in Bordeaux from June 22 to June 27, the date of their departure for Toulouse.

May 26, Robert Minder puts at the disposal of Alfred Döblin a small apartment -95 rue des Petits-Champs in Paris, where he remains until June 10 He leaves Paris on June 10 for Tours with the services of the Ministry of Information. Thus will begin the “journey” described in Destiny’s Journey, which will lead him from Tours to Moulins, Cahors, Rodez, Mende. He will join Erna and Stephan on July 10 in Toulouse.

On July 22, Alfred, Erna and Stephan leave Toulouse for Marseille and from there on July 30 for Lisbon, via Barcelona and Madrid. Departure for New York on September 5 where the family resides from September12 till October 2. Arrival in Los Angeles on October 7. (Travel expenses paid partly by the ERC and also thanks to financial contributions from Peter Döblin and the Rosin’s, friends of Alfred Döblin from Berlin, refugees in NYC)

Installation of the family in a furnished apartment – 1842 Cherokee Avenue in Hollywood.

Starts on October 9th a one-year contract for $ 100 – per week, as a screenwriter for MGM. This contract which required a temporary visa for entrance in the USA has been obtained through the intervention of Hermann Kesten of the European Rescue Committee.

Wolfgang Döblin in order not to fall in the hands of the German troops kills himself on June 21, 1940, in a barn in the village of Housseras (Vosges). He is buried in the cemetery of the village.

Klaus Döblin, demobilized beginning in September 1940 fails to reach Alfred and Erna before their departure from France departure. He will remain and in France throughout the war period, all attempts to enable him to join the family in the U.S. having failed.

Alfred’s youngest brother, Kurt, born in 1880, and his family are deported to Auschwitz, where they were gassed.

1941 – Alfred and the family move on February 7 first to 901 North Genesse Avenue in Hollywood, and finally on November 6- 1941 in a small unfurnished apartment at 1347 North Citrus Avenue Hollywood. The furniture will be given by friends.

Alfred, Erna and Stephan go from March 3 to March 12 to Nogales (Mexico) in order to obtain a permanent visa to stay in the United States. Formalities are facilitated by the assistance of a lawyer recommended by the film director William Dieterle and thru the financial assistance of the European Rescue Committee.

October 7, end of the contract with MGM. The family receives an unemployment benefit of   $ 18 – per week for 30 weeks. They will survive until their return to Europe, in November 1945, thanks to various aids received from Peter Döblin and various friends.

November 30- Catholic baptism, by Father Mc. Coy, S.J., of Alfred, Erna and Stephan at the “Blessed Sacrament Church”, 6657 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood,

1942 – February begins the manuscript of Karl und Rosa.
May 12- Peter Döblin is incorporated for military service in the U.S. Army from
May 31- Catholic confirmation of Alfred, Erna and Stephan at the “Cathedral Santa Vibiana” in Los Angeles.

1943 – Finishes writing the novel Karl und Rosa.
On August 14 a feast is organized for the 65th anniversary of Alfred Döblin at the “Pablo Rey House” – 1211 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, under the chairmanship of Heinrich Mann and the participation of approximately hundred persons, including Thomas Mann, Brecht Bertholt etc.. …
December completes the manuscript of Der Oberst und der Dichter.

1944 – Finishes writing the essay Das Märchen vom Materialismus.
Stephan Döblin joins the Free French Army and leaves the U.S. with a troop transport.

1945 – March 20- Alfred and Erna are informed of the death of Wolfgang, without knowing however either the circumstances or the date.
Starts writing the novel Hamlet.
In August 1945, Alfred is contacted by Ernest Tonnelat, Professor at the “College de France”, who proposes to him to take the responsibility of head of the “Office of Letters” in the Department of Public Education of the Military Government in the French zone of occupation, based in Baden- Baden. This offer is confirmed thereafter by General Raymond Schmittlein. Alfred Döblin accepts this offer without hesitation.