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Friday, September 29, 2006

Reviving a shameful Ivy League legacy

...Thanks to recent groundbreaking research by Prof. Stephen Norwood of the University of Oklahoma, the shameful details of this Ivy League flirtation with the Nazis is a secret no longer. Perhaps it makes their recent invitations to Iranian officials seem less surprising.

In May 1934, the Harvard administration played host to Nazi Germany’s U.S. ambassador, Hans Luther. He visited Harvard’s Germanic Museum and Widener Library. The following month, Harvard president James Conant rolled out the red carpet for Hitler’s foreign press chief, Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstangl. A graduate of the class of 1909, Hanfstangl came for the June 1934 commencement and his 25-year class reunion. He had been a close ally of Hitler’s since the early 1920s, and in his new position was responsible for spreading Nazi propaganda abroad.

President Conant received the Nazi official at a tea for the Class of ‘09 in his home. The student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, even urged the administration to award Hanfstangl an honorary degree “as a mark of honor appropriate to his high position in the government of a friendly country.”

Later that year, the Harvard administration hosted Germany’s Boston consul-general, Baron Kurt von Tippelskirch, at a ceremony honoring Harvard graduates who had died while fighting in the German army in World War I. The consul’s wreath included the infamous Nazi swastika.

Meanwhile, at Columbia, president Nicholas Murray Butler in 1933 invited Nazi ambassador Hans Luther to speak on campus, and also hosted a reception for him. Luther represented “the government of a friendly people,” Butler insisted. He was “entitled to be received … with the greatest courtesy and respect.” Ambassador Luther’s speech focused on what he characterized as Hitler’s peaceful intentions.

Three years later, the Columbia administration announced it would send a delegate to Nazi Germany to take part in the 550th anniversary celebration of the University of Heidelberg. (Harvard did likewise.) This, despite the fact that Heidelberg already had been purged of Jewish faculty members, instituted a Nazi curriculum and hosted a burning of books by Jewish authors...

...Universities are uniquely positioned to shape public attitudes. As the pillars of America’s educational system, they are looked upon as exemplars for our society. But what example did they set in the 1930s, by hosting officials of the Hitler regime and expelling a student for the ‘crime’ of leading an anti-Nazi rally? What message do they send today by welcoming leaders of a regime that sponsors international terrorism and threatens to annihilate five million Israeli Jews?


2 Comments

There are other aspects to this, for example one relevant to the Roosevelt administration and the British government, one which transpired later, '38-40. The German army, led by General Beck, was planning a coup to topple Hitler and they sought confirmation from Britain that they would aid the coup and not fight against it (this prior to the Sudetenland crisis and Krystallnacht in 1938). A diplomat representing the coup leaders, an Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin, was dispatched to secure such an agreement with the British govt. but Chamberlain dismissed Kleist's request, suggesting Kleist and the coup leaders were German traitors. Kleist also met with Churchill at that same time and was not able to achieve anything. Theo Kordt, another German resistance emissary, was sent to reaffirm Kleist's request, but Kordt also was not able to achieve anything.

Later, in 1940 and still prior to formal hostilities, Adam von Trott, another German resistance emissary, was sent to Washington D.C. in an attempt to meet with Roosevelt and was met with a similar refusal, one originating directly from Roosevelt himself.

Conant was, in my opinion, as evil as Hitler. You should read Nicholas Lehman's story about the development of the SATs at Harvard during World War II. I'm not surprised to hear about this connection. Lehman maintains that the SATs, arising from the IQ tests, was born of Naziism. Now I can see how that connection came about. Unbelievable.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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