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Harvard's sorry anti-Semitic record

ANDREW SCHLESINGER whitewashes Harvard's role in enhancing the Nazi regime's prestige ("The real story of Nazi's Harvard Visit," op ed, Nov. 18). He completely misrepresents my paper, "Legitimating Nazism: Harvard University and the Hitler Regime, 1933-1937," presented Nov. 14 at the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies conference at Boston University.

I elaborated on numerous cases in which Harvard's administration, student leaders, including the Crimson editorial staff, and prominent alumni chose to offer encouragement to the Hitler regime as it intensified its persecution of the Jews and strengthened its armed forces. Schlesinger only mentions the notorious Hanfstaengl visit and even ignores the administration's complicity in it.

Harvard president James Bryant Conant's insistence on treating Nazi academics as part of the learned world after German universities had Nazified their curriculums and expelled Jewish faculty and his reluctance to offer faculty positions to prominent Jewish refugee scholars were influenced by his own anti-Semitism, which he expressed in correspondence.

Contrary to Schlesinger, the Harvard administration prior to the 1934 commencement announced that Hanfstaengl would be warmly welcomed.

Harvard police tore down anti-Nazi fliers posted in Harvard Yard, and Conant derided the true heroes -- those arrested protesting against Hitler in Harvard Square -- as ridiculous.

Several months later, the Harvard administration permitted the Nazi consul to lay a wreath bearing a swastika in the university chapel. The press characterized this, along with the Hanfstaengl welcome, as Harvard's recognition of the Nazi regime.

Harvard participated in academic exchanges and ceremonies with Nazified universities at which top Nazi officials delivered anti-Semitic harangues. Albert Einstein refused to attend the 1936 Harvard Tercentenary because Conant had invited Nazis.

These are only a few of the cases that I discussed in my paper. Harvard has a sorry record, which it should acknowledge.

Professor of history and Judaic studies
University of Oklahoma
Norman, Okla.

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