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Marianne Kortner Brun '82

Marianne Kortner Brun '82

URBANA, IL - Born Nov. 29, 1929, in Berlin, then capital of the Weimar Republic of Germany, as the daughter of prominent stage and screen actors Fritz Kortner and Johanna Hofer, Marianne Kortner Brun entered political exile early, in 1933, via Austria, Czechoslovakia, to Great Britain, from where four years later her family immigrated to the United States. In later years, when asked if there was one nation where she felt more at home than in others, she said, “no.” In the U.S., “Manni,” as she preferred to hear herself called, attended more than 30 different schools in New York, New England and Los Angeles. She lived and worked independently in New York City from age 16 at multiple jobs, including assistant to a dietetical chemist, before returning with her parents to a defeated and divided Germany in 1948. Manni worked then as an assistant to Bertolt Brecht, prominent playwright and poet, first in Zurich, Switzerland, and later with the Berliner Ensemble in the eastern German Democratic Republic (1949-50) before moving to Munich in the western Federal Republic of Germany. In Munich, she worked at theater and radio station assignments and became a live-television editor at the newly established Bavarian Television Network. From early on, Manni was active in the campaign for a united, disarmed and neutral Germany - which grew out of her lifelong active pursuit of peace, and her untiring determination to help build a society focused directly on meeting needs. In 1955, Manni met Herbert Brun, a composer. They married, began a family, and in 1963 came to Urbana-Champaign, where he was employed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Manni undertook multiple assignments, including research, translation, editing and writing articles for West German Radio and Encyclopaedia Britannica. At the same time, largely via correspondence, she received a bachelor's degree from Antioch College of Ohio, and then a master of arts degree in social change from Sangamon State College (now University of Illinois at Springfield). Manni was active in the growing campaign to end the war in Vietnam. She became a member of the local chapter of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She also counseled numerous young men in the application of theater arts to avoidance of the military draft, as they applied to obtain conscientious objector status from their draft boards. Following two years' employment as assistant to the head at the Urban and Regional Planning Library at UIUC, Manni helped found, form and became director of the Artist-In-Residence Program at Unit One in Allen Hall until 1986. During her decade at Unit One, she also taught numerous courses, including “Designing Society,” which invited participants to share intelligent imagining of a new social order by first specifying fundamental features to be changed, and by then researching the world and logic. The technique, now better known than it was back then, was to work backward from the specifications to deduce required conditions as consequences, instead of working forward from currently given conditions to figure out what specifications are reasonable. Traces of this class over several years, and of discussions toward what she then, long before the Internet, called a “socially beneficial information processor,” were published in “Princelet Editions 1985,” as “Designing Society: Marianne Brun and respondents.” After retirement from the university, Manni continued to exercise her widely known ability to give valued criticism and support that improved and encouraged, and never discouraged the work of innumerable writers, artists, composers and political activists. She once again established a residence in Berlin and participated in the campaign for a third alternative to either the divided Germanys or their eventual subsumption into the current Federal Republic of Germany. She divided her time and residencies between Berlin and Urbana until 2010, when she returned to Urbana permanently. Manni passed away Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. She was preceded in death by her brother, Peter Kortner of Los Angeles and Sonoma, Calif., and by her husband, Herbert Brun of Urbana. Survivors include her two sons, Michael Brun, m. Meadow Jones, of Urbana and Stefan Brun, m. Jenny Magnus, and granddaughter Lena Luna Magnus Brun of Chicago. Cremation rights have been entrusted to Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 710 N. Neil St., Champaign,