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Andrea Manga Bell

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Andrea Manga Bell (* 27 January 1902 in Hamburg; † 10 October 1985 in Paris) was a German graphic artist and journalist. She was the wife of Alexander Douala-Bell and the companion of Joseph Roth.

Biography

Andrea Manga Bell was born Andrea Jimenez Berroa in Hamburg, Germany. She was the daughter of Emma Mina Filter, a Hamburg native, and the Afro-Cuban classical pianist José Manuel Jiménez-Berroa (1855-1917).[1] In 1919 she married Alexander Douala-Bell, a native of the German colony of Cameroon and the son of Rudolf Manga Bell, the Douala king who had been executed by the Germans. The marriage produced two children, son Jose Emmanuel (1920-1947) and daughter Andrea Tüke Ekedi (1921-2003).[2]

After Cameroon became French under the Treaty of Versailles, the couple moved to Paris in mid-1919. The marriage failed, but was not divorced. Alexander Douala-Bell left for Cameroon in 1922, but without his wife and children, who remained in Europe.[3]

Andrea Manga Bell then returned to Germany with the children, where she worked in Berlin as an editor at the Ullstein magazine Gebrauchsgraphik, while the children lived with their grandmother in Hamburg. In August 1929 she met the writer Joseph Roth and became his partner. Soon the two of them moved into an apartment together with their children. It is possible that Andrea Manga Bell was the model for the character of Juliette Martens in Klaus Mann’s key novel Mephisto.[4]

When Roth had to emigrate in 1933, Andrea Manga Bell followed him to France with their children. In the course of time, tensions arose between the alcoholic Roth and Andrea Manga Bell. Financial problems were added, so that it came to a break in 1936. Andrea Manga Bell later wrote about this time in a letter to Karl Retzlaw that she had received money from her inheritance from her brother in Hamburg. “The money, which he sent to me at the risk of his life via Holland, Roth drank away completely.”[5]

Andrea Manga Bell lived in Paris again and had to go into hiding for a time during the German occupation. After the war, her husband Alexander, by then a deputy for Cameroon in the French National Assembly, re-established contact with the family. During a visit of their son Jose Emmanuel to his father in Douala in 1947, an argument broke out between the two, during which Alexander shot his son. The murder charge was struck down. Efforts by Andrea Manga Bell to force a trial failed.[6]

In 1985, Andrea Manga Bell died in Paris at the age of 83.[7]

Individual references

  1. John Eichler: The Dehumanization of Juliette Martens in Klaus Mann’s Novel “Mephisto,” A Defense of Andrea Manga Bell, Huffington Post December 2, 2017; text also here
  2. Alexandra Lübcke, Stefanie Michels: Theoretische Überlegungen zu Erinnerungskonzepten. In: Elisabeth Boesen, Fabienne Lentz (eds.): Migration und Erinnerung. Concepts and Methods of Research. Berlin 2010, pp. 205 and 208, ISBN 978-3-643-10341-3
  3. Richard Joseph: The Royal Pretender: Prince Douala Manga Bell in Paris, 1919-1922. in: Cahiers d’Études Africaines, vol. 14, no. 54, pp. 339-358, Paris 1974
  4. John Eichler: The Dehumanization of Juliette Martens in Klaus Mann’s Novel Mephisto
  5. Alexandra Lübcke, Stefanie Michels: Theoretische Überlegungen zu Erinnerungskonzepten. In: Elisabeth Boesen, Fabienne Lentz (eds.): Migration und Erinnerung. Concepts and Methods of Research. Berlin 2010, p. 201, ISBN 978-3-643-10341-3
  6. White man always bad, Der Spiegel, August 24, 1950
  7. John Eichler: The Dehumanization of Juliette Martens in Klaus Mann’s Novel Mephisto