In a photograph taken in Southern California four decades ago, Thomas Mann, wearing tie and suit coat in the glare of sunshine, stands amid a group of men in splashy, flowered, open-necked shirts.

The scene is symbolic of the classic encounter between two cultures -- Old World European and New World Californian -- that came after the diaspora of intellectuals escaping the Nazis' rise to power.

The story of German intellectuals in the lotus land of Southern California provided vivid anecdotes in the second day of "The Muses Flee Hitler," a three-day colloquium being held by the Smithsonian Institution in honor of the centennial of the birth of Albert Einstein.

Yesterday, speakers at the Hirshhorn Museum auditorium talked about intellectual emigres having to overcome language barriers, having to deal with high-pressure Hollywood types and, not the least traumatic, having to confront positivism in social theory.

While trying to adjust to life in the United States, the emigres made their own influence felt in history, political sociology and psychoanalysis. They leavened discussions with talk of Marx and Freud at the two American schools where they clustered -- the New School for Social Research and the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research.

The change in cultures was painful for some emigres, especially for the aristocratic intellectuals among the upwards of 10,000 refugees who congregated in Southern California.

Jarrell C. Jackman, who teaches at two area universities, recounted yesterday how composer Arnold Schoenberg was appalled at what he termed "amusement arcade" culture in America. Bertolt Brecht aimed snide and acid remarks at Hollywood. German actors were galled that they were cast as Nazi soldiers in the movies.

But other refugees adjusted, Jackman pointed out. Erich Korngold won two Oscars for his movie compositions. Billy Wilder wrote and directed "Sunset Boulevard" and "Lost Weekend."

Max Reinhardt was a big hit with his stage production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and duplicated that success with the film version starring Mickey Rooney as Puck.

Mann, who lived in Southern California, never wrote about his new land -- "A work must have long roots in my life," he once explained. He remained a European.

For the German intellectual superstars like Mann, there was no problem of language, Helmut F. Pfanner, another speaker, pointed out. Those with stature could write in their own language and be translated.

But it wasn't that easy for other refugee intellectuals whose professional and social lives depended on learning a new language.

"They went to American movies and saw the same film over and over. They listened to religious radio broadcasts because the ministers pronounced distinctly," said Pfanner, who is professor of German at Purdue University. d

But cultural change was more than a language problem for some of the refugees.

"Positivism" was the word used by H. Stuart Hughes, professor of history at the University of California in San Diego, to sum up the clash of two different theoretical traditions that came with the migration of the German intellectuals to America.

Hughes, who worked with some of the emigres, including the late Herbert Marcuse, in the OSS research and analysis department during World War II, told how Germans found American philosophers and teachers "hypnotized by fact" and "naive."

"They were not anti-empirical as such, but the mere grubbing of facts would not do . . . Hence their arrogance and heavy-handedness in treating Americans as schoolboys," he explained.

The colloquium concludes today at the National Museum of History and Technology with seminars on immi-Gestalt psychologists, and a final gestalt psychologists, and a final panel on "Some Unanswered Questions."