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March 31, 2006



Well, you just don't unbderstand decadence, obviously. This is a clear example of radical chic. Thom Wolfe nailed this back in the 60's in an article called "Those Radical Chic Evenings".

"one could scarcely imagine a Yale admitee less in tune with the college's ostensible mission than this one,"

As opposed to its real mission, see above.


This is only tangentially related, but at Harvard inside the Memorial Church where it lists all the Harvard alumni who died in World War II, there's also a listing for a German who died on the Russian front, who had attended the divinity school in the 1920's and was apparently drafted into the German army. It's a little jarring to see an entire wall filled with the names of American war dead and then, "Adolf Sannwald (enemy casualty)." Interestingly, two alumni killed in Japanese uniform aren't included, and the plaque that commemorates Civil War dead only includes Union soldiers.


"there's also a listing for a German who died on the Russian front, who had attended the divinity school in the 1920's and was apparently drafted into the German army"

Go Harvard! I'll do you one better though:

["Expert: Harvard Aided Nazi Image in 1930s - Historian Alleges Harvard University Was Warm to Nazis at University Events in the 1930s"]

["BOSTON Nov 14, 2004 — Harvard University enhanced the reputation of the Nazi regime when it sanctioned events in the 1930s attended by Nazis, a historian claimed Sunday.

"Harvard remained largely indifferent to the persecution of Germany's Jews," said Stephen H. Norwood, a University of Oklahoma history professor who is writing a book about the response of American universities to the Nazi party."]

["Norwood claimed administrators welcomed one of Adolf Hitler's closest deputies to a reunion, hosted a reception for German naval officials and sent a delegate to a celebration at a German university that had expelled Jews.

Harvard administrators, alumni and student leaders "remained indifferent to Germany's terrorist campaign against Jews and indeed on numerous occasions assisted the Nazis in their efforts to gain acceptance in the West," he said"]

["Much of Norwood's presentation focused on a campus visit by Ernst Hanfstaengl, the Nazi party's foreign press chief.

Hanfstaengl, a Harvard graduate, attended a 25th-year reunion on the campus in 1934 the year after Hitler became chancellor of Germany.

The reunion sparked protest in the Jewish community.

"Conant could easily have denounced the visit but did not," Norwood said."]

Now, that Ernst Hanfstaengl fella was a Harvard man who accomplished a great deal! Yale's only playing catch-up ... But Harvard's commitment to intellectual diversity extended even further than embracing one proud son.

["Norwood said Conant welcomed the crew of the Nazi warship the Karlsruhe to campus in 1934, but Harvard said the invitation was a private one from a student or a professor, not a formal invitation on behalf of the university or its president.

Two years later, Conant sent a delegate to an anniversary celebration of the University of Heidelberg, from which Jewish faculty and students had been purged, Norwood said."]

But wait, there's more!

["In 1936, Norwood said, Harvard sent a delegate to the University of Heidelberg's 550th anniversary celebration, which Norwood called a thoroughly Nazi affair, with Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler participating."]


Maybe Harvard was just trying to keep up with Oxford and Cambridge in the 1930's. That still leaves their idiocy in 2004 to explain.


"Maybe Harvard was just trying to keep up with Oxford and Cambridge in the 1930's"

It's hard work, keeping up with your peers ... Actually, this has it all wrong: *communism* was the bold new idea being embraced in Oxbridge during those years.


Communism. Right. That was the fashion. Nazism was very last year, but there were still plenty of people who were wearing last year. How much more played out can something be than when stodgy old royals are playing at it?


Pacifism deserves an honourable mention in any list of stupid and dangerous ideas that were fashionable in 1930s Oxbridge.

Richard J

My old Oxford college has one of the plotters to assassinate Hitler on its war memorial, as well as several Germans from the first world war.


Yeah, pacifism was the Oxbridge thing. IIRC there was one Oxford undergraduate who made his peace protest by climbing one of the college towers with a rifle and shooting dead three passersby. He was way ahead of his time. Six decades later he would have been a major conceptual artist, knocking for six that guy who wanted to leave a tap running for a whole year to protest against the modern world's waste of water.

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