Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The Confrontation with Nazism at Rutgers: Academic Bureaucracy and Moral Failure

  • Michael Greenberg (a1) and Seymour Zenchelsky (a2)

Extract

Near the end of 1940 Friedrich Hauptmann secretly fled to his native Germany, forsaking Rutgers University where he was chairman of the German department at the New Jersey College for Women (N.J.C.). Despite having acquired American citizenship the previous year (several months before the start of World War II), Hauptmann traveled on a German passport, with expenses paid by the Hitler government. This was undoubtedly a reward for “serving ‘the cultural-political interests of the Reich’ in New Jersey.”

Copyright

References

Hide All

1 Then commonly called “N.J.C.” but now renamed Douglass College. The quotation is from Oshinsky, David M. McCormick, Richard P. and Horn, Daniel The Case of the Nazi Professor (New Brunswick, N.J., 1989), 9799. This book offers extensive endnotes, an index, and a guide to sources but omits crucial evidence. It presents the Rutgers position on the Bergel case.

2 Corwin, to Clothier, 23 Nov. 1940, “Hauptmann, Friedrich J.” folder, box 24, Clothier, Robert C. Papers, Rutgers University Archives, Alexander Library, New Brunswick, N.J. These archives will be referred to hereafter as RUA.

3 Corwin, to Clothier, 20 Nov. 1940, ibid.; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 9394.

4 Statement to Albert Meder, 6–8, folder 6, box 4, Special Trustees Committee to Investigate the Charges of Lienhard Bergel, 1935, RUA (hereafter cited as Meder Statement); Statement of Friedrich Hauptmann, 2–3, folder 11, box 2, ibid. (hereafter cited as Hauptmann Statement); Trustees Committee report, “In the Matter of the Investigation of the Charges of Lienhard Bergel,” Rutgers University Bulletin, ser. 12 (Aug. 1935) (hereafter cited as 1935 report). Hereafter the Special Trustees Committee collection will be cited as Trustees Committee.

5 “The Report of the President of Rutgers University, 1934–1935,” Rutgers University Bulletin, ser. 12, no. 4 (Oct. 1935): 13; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 57.

6 Hauptmann's army duties involved bullying and demeaning subordinates; Marburg “was a ‘hotbed’ of right-radical politics.” See Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 910. No documentary evidence that Hauptmann had passed the Staatsexamen was presented.

7 Memorandum from Douglass, Mabel Hauptmann personnel file, Douglass College Archives, RUA.

8 The 1935 report, 39; New Brunswick (N.J.) Daily Home News, 26 Mar. 1933 (hereafter cited as Home News); Statement of Lienhard Bergel, May 1935, 3–4, folder 6, box 2, Trustees Committee (cited hereafter as Bergel Statement).

4 The 1935 report, 2; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 7879 and ch. 6; Niebuhr, et al. to Board of Trustees of Rutgers University, 11 Sep. 1935 (with ACLU report), folders 7–8, box 4, Trustees Committee.

10 Report of observers, Committee on Academic Freedom, ACLU, 5–7, folder 7, box 4, Trustees Committee (hereafter cited as ACLU report); Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 62, 74; New Brunswick (N.J.) Sunday Times (hereafter cited as Sunday Times), 14 July 1935.

11 Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 5354, 71–72.

12 ACLU report, 2.

13 The 1935 report, 24; Home News, 24 May 1985; New York Herald Tribune, 22 May 1935 (cited hereafter as Herald Tribune).

14 Ibid., Sunday Times, 16 June 1935.

15 Transcript of Wagner's Testimony, 31–57, folder 17 (book 5), box 1, Trustees Committee.

16 The 1935 report, 27; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 62, n. 10.

17 Home News, 22 May 1935.

18 Sunday Times, 16 June 1935; Notes by trustees’ committee member Miriam Lippincott, 82–83, 112–13, 118–19, folders 12–13, box 1, Trustees Committee (cited hereafter as Lippincott Notes); Home News, 6, 21 June 1935; Rose Schmidt Statement, folder 6, box 3, Trustees Committee.

19 Notes, Lippincott 4866; Meder Supplementary Statement, folders 5–6, box 4, Trustees Committee.

20 Home News, 22 May 1935; Herald Tribune, 23 May 1935.

21 Jordan testimony, 4, folder 11, box 2, Trustees Committee; Schlimbach testimony, 2, folder 16, box 4, ibid.; ACLU report, 16–17; Meder Statement, 1–2.

22 Supplementary Statement of Friedrich J. Hauptmann, folder 11, box 2, Trustees Committee (cited hereafter as Hauptmann Supplementary Statement); Home News, 22 and 23 May 1935; Herald Tribune, 23 May 1935.

23 Atlantic City Press, 23 May 1935; Testimony, Van Dorn 34, folder 15 (book 2), box 1, Trustees Committee.

24 Hauptmann Statement; Lippincott Notes, 48–67; ACLU Report, 14.

25 Statement, Hauptmann 1; Hauptmann Supplementary Statement; Meder Statement, 2; Van Dorn Testimony, 5–8, folder 15 (book 2), box 1, Trustees Committee; Home News, 11, 23 May 1935; Herald Tribune, 13 May 1935; the 1935 report, 14.

26 Home News, 27 May 1935; Smith to Trustees Committee, 19 May 1935, folder 10, box 1, Trustees Committee; Statement of Lienhard Bergel to Clothier, Robert C. delivered by Feller, Harry S. Mar. 1935, 1, folder 11, box 4, Trustees Committee.

27 Home News, 30, 31 May 1935, 1, 15, 16, 21, 22 June 1935; ACLU Report, 6–8; Lippincott Notes, passim; Rose Schmidt Statement, folder 6, box 3, Trustees Committee; Geismar, Dorothy to Edward Ashmead, J., 20 June 1935, folder 4, box 1, Trustees Committee; Heiligman, Mildred to Ashmead, J. Edward 4 May 1935, folder 4, box 1, Trustees Committee; Koester, Ruth E. to Ashmead, J. Edward 10 June 1935, folder 4, box 1, Trustees Committee.

28 Testimony, Schlimbach Lippincott Notes, 39–40, 45–46, 82–84; Lehman Testimony, 58–59, folder 18 (book 6), box 1, Trustees Committee; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 65–66; Home News, 30, 31 May 1935, 15 June 1935; Herald Tribune, 15 June 1935.

29 Varga, said she admired Hitler, as a dictator and a man.“ See Campus News, 26 Sep. 1934. For Helen Rich's comments see ibid., 7 Oct. 1932.

30 Ibid., 8 Dec. 1934, 17 Apr. 1935.

31 Hauptmann Statement; Home News, 25 May 1935.

32 ACLU report, 6–11; Lippincott Notes; Home News, 21–24 May 1935. Some of this testimony was transcribed; see folders 15–18, box 1, Trustees Committee.

33 Home News, 7 June 1935; Shirley Smith to Trustees Committee, 19 May 1935, folder 10, box 1, Trustees Committee.

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 1011; the 1935 report, 9; Braun, W. A. to Meder, Albert E. 26 Oct. 1933, folder 2, box 2, Trustees Committee. French Department Chairman Eugene Huet, who had studied in Germany, testified on the superiority of Bergel's training (Home News, 22 May 1935). In 1933, Emil Jordan was completing a book on the cultural geography of Germany to be used as a “German Reader for Students in the second year.” Jordan to Clothier, 17 May 1934, Jordan personnel file, Douglass Archives, RUA.

37 At first Bergel ate at the German Table and later spent his time at the French Table, but he was always available to students seeking help. See Kunst Testimony, 23–35, folder 16 (book 3), box 1, Trustees Committee.

38 Meder Statement 68.

39 Ibid., 6–7. When testifying about the dismissal decision, Hauptmann cited Bergel's alleged inadequacies, not the three-year rule.

40 Meder Supplemental Statement (20 May 1935); Memorandum typed on stationery of the Bible School, Westfield Presbyterian Church (with which Meder was closely connected), folder 17, box 4, Trustees Committee. A year after Bergel's departure, Corwin noted that the three-year rule “became mandatory this year.” See Margaret Corwin, Dean's Report, 24 June 1936, box 9, ser. 3–4, subgroup I, Douglass College—Records of the Dean, RUA.

41 “Memorandum: Reasons for confirming decision not to reappoint Dr. Lienhard Bergel,” folder 11, box 4, Trustees Committee. Compare the second paragraph with the first full paragraph on page 5 of Corwin Statement.

42 Home News, 20 Aug. 1935. Remaining from Hauptmann's testimony are his statement and reports in the press.

43 The verdict of the 1935 report remains the Rutgers position on the Bergel case despite the subsequent revelations. Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 113–14.

44 The 1935 report, 20, 21; Campus News, 16 Feb. 1932.

45 The 1935 report, 39–41.

46 New York World Telegram, 23 May 1935.

47 See ACLU report, 16 and cover letter. Niebuhr et al. to the Board of Trustees of Rutgers University, 11 Sep. 1935, folders 7–8, box 4, Trustees Committee.

48 “Trustees Object to Irrelevancy of Exile's Testimony,” Home News, 7 June 1935; “Jews-Discrimination” folder, box 42, Clothier Papers. On teacher as role model, see “The Report of the President of Rutgers University, 1933–1934,” Rutgers University Bulletin,ser. 11, no. 4 (Aug. 1935): 7.

49 The 1935 report, 10; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 74.

50 The 1935 report, 21; Meder Statement, 5–6, 9–10; Home News, 23, 31 May 1935; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 44–45, 89; Transcript, “Dean Meder Interview” (1985), 19, Files of the 1985–86 Bergel-Hauptmann Committee, RUA.

51 For the successive reasons given to Bergel, see Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 29.

52 Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 8387. Clothier asked the trustees to investigate “stirring up public agitation” by “members of the faculty.” Clothier, Robert C. to Ashmead, J. Edward 20 July 1935, folder 10, box 4, Trustees Committee. See also Transcript, “Dean Meder Interview” (1985), 19–20, 24–25.

53 Oshinsky, David M. chairman, Horn, Daniel and McCormick, Richard P.Report on the Bergel-Hauptmann Case,“ Rutgers University, 1986 (cited hereafter as 1986 report), 88; Sunday Times, 16 June 1946; Parisi, Peter Home News, 15 and 16 May 1985, 17 June 1985, 24 July 1985, 9 and 11 Aug. 1985, 29 Sep. 1985; editorial, New York Times, 29 Sep. 1985.

54 Home News, 16 May 1985; McCormick, Richard P. Rutgers: A Bicentennial History (New Brunswick, N.J., 1966), 238; Bloustein, Edward J. to Silver, Alan 1 July 1985, files of the 1985–86 Bergel-Hauptmann Committee, RUA; Bloustein, Edward J. to Silver, Alan 7 Aug. 1985, ibid.

55 The 1986 report.

56 Challener, Richard D. review of The Case of the Nazi Professor, by Oshinsky, et al., in Home News, 29 Jan. 1989 (hereafter cited as Challener's review). The Rutgers historians maintained that Hauptmann was not “a ‘rabid’ Nazi” (Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 101), but merely a “pre-holocaust” or “run-of-the-mill” Nazi (Home News, 5 May 1985; New York Times, 18 Dec. 1986).

57 Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 84 108–12; Home News 17, 19, and 16 Apr. 1987. The historians stated that Bergel “published perhaps a dozen articles” (first citation above) when more than three times that number exist. Copies of Bergel's papers and correspondence are located in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University; his publications list is held in the office of the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature of the City University of New York.

58 The function of the Deutsche Akademie (German Academy) was to spread German influence. Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 99100.

59 Bergel's charge of political bias was the reason that public pressure forced the 1935 hearings upon an unwilling Rutgers and also the reason for the ACLU's involvement. ACLU report, 1–3. For the questions chosen by the 1985 panel of historians, Clothier's questions to the 1935 trustees, and the trustees’ own choice, see Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 6 54, 56.

60 For the biased conduct of the 1935 hearings, see ACLU report, 3–8; Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 5774, 116–17. For the duplicity of Clothier, and Corwin, see ibid., 92–95, 117. For the private memoranda of Meder, and Corwin, see this essay.

61 Oshinsky, Nazi Professor, 112.

62 The quotation indicates President Bloustein's recognition of the centrality of Bergel's charge. Bloustein, Edward J. to Silver, Alan 1 July 1985, files of the 1985–86 Bergel-Hauptmann Committee, RUA.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed