Thomas Mann had visited Nida for the first time in 1929. In his memoir later he wrote: “We had spent several days in Nida’s fishermen’s village and were so much thrilled by indescribable originality and beauty of that nature, by fantastic world of wandering dunes, and by elks living in the pinewoods, that we decided to purchase a permanent residence”. In 1929 – 1930, a house that is a reproduction of a fisherman’s house was constructed on the Hill of Mother-in-Law in Nida according to the project of the architect H. Reissmann. On July 16, 1930, Thomas Mann with his family arrived to his new summerhouse. The writer had spent three summers in Nida with his fanily (1930 -1932). Here he followed his routine schedule. He continued writing “Joseph and His Brothers”, the essay “My summerhouse”, articles, letters for offices, publishing, translators, friends. In 1933, Thomas Mann was forced to emigrate with the family from Germany and never returned to Nida.
The residents of Neringa are proud that a Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann had visited and was writing in Nida. When he was writing here his novel “Joseph and His Brothers”, Thomas Mann was fifty-five years old at that time. He was arriving to Nida as a writer-humanist, who had stable positions in literature and culture life and was already fast enough to speak out for democracy and warn his fellow-countrymen and people of other regions about the threat of fascism becoming effective in Europe.
Summerhouse on the Hill of Mother-in-Law
Having accidently visited Nida in 1929, T. Mann and his wife sensed that this visit was not the last one. Having a sincere talk with H.Blode about his wish to spend summers here, shortly after that, he received an information about possibility originating to reconstruct a summerhouse in Nida. The next summer they already arrived for spending summer in his summerhouse on the Hill of Mother-in-Law. Settling in Nida for the summertime, the writer hoped that this will be the restplace beside his favourite Baltic Sea, where he will be able to create. He was right. An atmosphere predominating in Nida suited the process of creation perfectly. The writer had spent many hours on the second floor of the house, creating and looking through the window at the Curonian Lagoon.
Ludwig Gediminas Reza was born on January 9, 1776, in Karvaiciai village.
Having his father dead in 1782, the orphan Ludwig was sheltered by fisherman of nearby Nagliu village Radmacheris, and during 1882 - 1883 he was living with his distant relative, the owner of Rasyte’s Post Station Boehm.
In 1785, L. G. Reza moved from the Curonian Spit to Kaukenai (in the region of Nemunas’ delta), where the husband of his mother’s sister theologian Christian David Wittich was living.
L. G.Reza had spent six years with Ch. D.Witticha, was studying further hard, and being fifteen years old, with the help of Ch. D.Wittich in the summer of 1791 he got to Lebenicht paupers’ shelter in Koenigsberg.
In 1795, L. G.Reza, being nineteen years old, entered Theology Department of Koenigsberg University, and this department was a dominating one with the number of its students and its importance since the very establishment of the university (1544). Apart from theology, L. G.Reza had studied ancient languages, history of literature, rhetoric, attended history lectures, and was interested in philosophy and Eastern languages the most. Maturation of his personality was influenced the most by the philosopher lecturing in the university I. Kant, orientalist J. Hasse, historian K. Mangelsdorf and Ch. Kraus. The theory of J. Hasse was not scientifically valid, but it thrilled the imagination of L. Reza and stimulated his interest in the history of the amber region, a part of which was the Curonian Spit.
During the studies, L. Reza visited seminar of Lithuanian langauge, which took place in the university from 1723, later, he had been leading it for a long itme, rasing the level of this seminar and, thus, contributing to Lithuanian linguistic preparation of future Evangelical Lutheran priests of Lithuania Minor (Prussian Lithuania).
Scientific activity of L. Reza
L. Reza completed his studies in Koenigsberg University in 1799, and, even though, he was attracted by scientist’s career, he chose this path some years later: Being fifteen years old, L. Reza occupied the position of military preacher and only from 1816 he related his activity with the university. L. Reza had been preparing for academic work all the time after the end of studies: he had studied philosophy, history, Hebrew, Chaldic, Arabic languages and in 1807 defended his scientific paper “About Interpretation of Morals of the Holy Books According to Kant”, acquiring the Doctoral Degree in Philosophy. In 1810 L. Reza became an extraodrinary professor of Koenigsberg University and started to lecture the course on History of the Christian Church and Introduction to the Old and New Testaments. L. Reza was also granted with the Doctoral Degree in Theology for the studies on history of Lithuanian Bible, and in 1819 he was appointed to be the Dean of the Department of Theology and later became a Rector. In 1828, L. Reza became the first professor of the Department of Theology – the lord.
Evaluation of social and scientific work of L. Reza
L. Reza was an active agent of society.
From 1810, L. Reza was participating in activity of Prussian Bible Distribution Association.
From 1811, L. Reza was an active member of the Royal German Asscociation of his town, there he was reading the papers on historical and folklore issues.
In 1819, L. Reza, who became known for his Lithuanian linguistic works, was elected to be an honoured member of the Curonian Land’s Literature and Art Association. This was an association of a liberal movement, founded by local Germans in 1816, which was cherishing the region’s culture.
In 1832 L. Reza – well-known authority in science of theology – became the member of Leipzig Historical Theological Association.
The membership of L. Reza in the contemporary elite of Koenigsberg is demonstrated by his election as an honoured member of Conshistory and Schools College of Prussian Province (Das Consistorium und Provinzial – Schul – Collegium) in 1829. This institution resolved important questions of Western Prussia church, education and culture development.
L. Reza’s sympathies towards liberal ideas are revealed in his participation in activity of one of three Masonic lodges that were functioning in Koenigsberg – The Three Crown Lodge of St. John (Maurer-Loge zu den Drey Kronen).
Scientific and social activity of L. Reza was highly evaluated at the end of his life: In 1840, he was awarded with the Prussian State Order.
On the border of Nida, there is a house of the sculptor and artist Eduardas Jonusas. During the season, one can always meet guests, who came here in groups or one by one. Huge love and bent for the history and ethnography of the region, where he lives and creates, made E.Jonusas regional researcher, and turned his house into a real museum of the regional study. The guests collect eccenric pictures of Jonusas or leave with feeling never experienced before that one can live totally differently, inflenced by free spirits that exist right next to human beings.
E. Jonusas, who had settled in Neringa from 1956, decorated it with timber and copper sculptures. He also collected and restored over 100 almost gone gravestone monuments of the Curonian – crosses, ancient weathercocks of the Curonian ships, ordered up the grave of the dunes planter D. Kuvertas, and accomplished a lot while managing the interior of Nida’s church.
One of his most distinctive works is restoration of ancient kurenas (traditional sailing-boat) according to ancient drawings, delivered from Germany. This kurenas, named “Kursis” (Curonian), can be seen in the port of Nida or floating distantly on the Lagoon’s waves.
One of the well-known contemporary artists of Neringa, town’s honoured citizen E. Jonusas is a live history of the region. Tourism agencies functioning in Neringa had included the workshops of this artist into their routes already long time ago. Expositions of the artist are exhibited in exhibitions rooms of Neringa’s towns - partners.
Around the middle of XVIII mentury, the innkeeper F.K. Kuvertas owned Nida’s Inn and the Post Station. Survival of the whole Nida’s village is connected with this Kuvertas’ heritage. The Kuvertas‘ became the most influencial and reachest people. Gotlibas Dovydas Kuvertas (1748 - 1827) purchased the material of almost sandbound Kuncu church, delivered them to Nida and constructed a large building, which housed an inn, apartment, rooms for lodging and post-office, in the middle of the village.
In the beginning of XIX century, when sand started to threaten the third Nida, in order to save his institution, G. D.Kuvertas started to fortify and plant the wandering dunes. The old Kuvertas was helped by his son Georgas Dovydas who took over the inheritance upon his father’s death and continued the work related with the post office.
The planting works, which were started by the Kuvertases, have prepared the soil for subsequent plantations. Georgas Dovydas buried his father at the cemetary set in young forest. Before his death, he also requested to bury him next to his father. The residents of Nida ordered a monument for the Kuvertas‘ with a vase standing on the plinth, which in ancient times was intended for keeping not only treasures, but also water – the biggest worth for the nature.