The people of the earth [have] agreed that the advancement of man in spiritual excellence and physical welfare is the common goal of mankind...that therefore the age of nations must end, and the era of humanity begin.
—Preamble to the Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution
Elisabeth Mann Borgese (24 April 1918 – 8 February 2002) was a strong-willed woman. She had to come out from under the shadow of both her father, the German writer and Nobel laureate Thomas Mann, and her husband, Italian literary critic and political analyst Giuseppe Antonio Borgese.
Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain was a monument of world literature between the two World Wars, and Mann felt that he represented the best of German culture against the uncultured hordes of the Nazis. He took himself and his role very seriously, believing that his family existed basically to facilitate his thinking and writing.
G.A. Borgese regularly lectured at various universities on the evils of Mussolini. A leading literary critic and professor in Milan, he left Italy for the United States in 1931 when Mussolini announced that an oath of allegiance to the Fascist State would be required of all Italian professors. For Borgese, with a vast culture including the classic Greeks, the Renaissance Italians, and the 19th-century nationalist writers, Mussolini was an evil caricature which too few Americans recognized as a destructive force in his own right, and not just as the fifth wheel of Hitler's armed car.