The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses

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This is the first systematic exploration of the nature and extent of sympathy for Nazi Germany at American universities during the 1930s. Universities were highly influential in shaping public opinion and many of the nation's most prominent university administrators refused to take a principled stand against the Hitler regime. Universities welcomed Nazi officials to campus and participated enthusiastically in student exchange programs with Nazified universities in Germany. American educators helped Nazi Germany improve its image in the West as it intensified its persecution of the Jews and strengthened its armed forces. The study contrasts the significant American grass-roots protest against Nazism that emerged as soon as Hitler assumed power with campus quiescence, and administrators' frequently harsh treatment of those students and professors who challenged their determination to maintain friendly relations with Nazi Germany.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Norwood (history & Judaic studies, Univ. of Oklahoma) provides chilling insight into the relationship between the Nazi state and American Ivy League colleges during the 1930s. Schools such as Harvard and Columbia not only resisted calls to boycott Nazi Germany but actively engaged in what can best be described as pro-Nazi activities. In addition to institutional cooperation through student exchange programs, they invited high-level Nazis to speak on campus. Many Ivy Leaguers smugly asserted that the Nazi regime was good for Germany and discounted reports about Nazi persecution of Jews and the suppression of free speech. The intensity of anti-Semitic activity was dismissed by academics such as President Butler of Columbia as either a fabrication by American Jews, who he claimed controlled the media, or as a necessary policy to reduce overt Jewish influence in Germany. In addition, some female students and faculty at women's colleges, especially the elite Seven Sisters, justified Nazi gender discrimination and the curtailment of women's right to education. VERDICT This disturbing study should be on the to-read list of anyone interested in pre-World War II America.—Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll.

—Frederic Krome
From the Publisher
“Stephen Norwood’s groundbreaking research and eloquent pen have added immeasurably to our understanding of how Americans responded to Nazism in the 1930s. The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower reveals a painful but important chapter in our nation’s history.” – David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941–1945

“Stephen H. Norwood forcefully demonstrates [that] . . . some of America’s top universities adopted a hear-no-evil attitude toward Hitler’s Germany that bordered on complicity.”—Ari Goldman, Columbia Magazine

“Norwood has opened the door so that American colleges and universities can be exposed for allowing Hitler and the Nazis to slaughter Jews with reckless abandon.”—Jerusalem Post

"already flaming controversies and debate. . . . [a] seminal study. . . . Norwood’s book is a must read.”—Steven Plaut, Front Page Magazine

“the first study of how a crucially important segment of American society responded to the Nazis.”—Sueddeutsche Zeitung

“[A] disheartening history lesson. Norwood . . . knock[s] down one myth and then knock[s] down another. . . . that American Jews were silent and passive in regard to Nazism [and] that American universities . . . could be counted on to stand up for democratic ideals and human rights.”—Jerusalem Report

“a carefully detailed and devastating written indictment of many of our nation’s college leaders.”—Les Kinsolving, WorldNetDaily

"Stephen H. Norwoods The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses massively demonstrates how these professors...were themselves made respectable in America during the Nazi regime's formative years by the faculty and administrators of major American universities and colleges." -Edward Alexander, Chicago Jewish Star

"The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower depicts in stunning detail how, in the 1930's, when the Nazi regime was intent on winning international legitmacy, it received a significant boost from America's leading academic institutions..." -American Jewish History, Deborah E. Lipstadt

"In this thoroughly researched work on the nature and extent of sympathy with Nazi Germany at American universities during the 1930's, Stephen Norwood helps readers understand pre-World War II conditions from an international perspective." -Jewish Book World

“Professor Norwood’s book should be assigned in every college in America.”—Rebecca Bynum, New English Review

"Norwood’s tome, which shows how influential many American universities were in creating sympathy for Nazi Germany, helps explain the shocking survey among incoming freshmen at Princeton University in New Jersey in 1938 in which Hitler polled as the 'greatest living person." -Hadassah Magazine

“make[s] a compelling case that [university] presidents dozed, dithered, and ducked during the great and gathering storm of Nazism.”—Boston Sunday Globe

“Professor Norwood . . . provides a comprehensive recounting—and persuasive indictment—of the reprehensible behavior of American colleges and universities and their leaders during the Nazi era.”—Jerold S. Auerbach, Society

“Stephen H. Norwood . . . traces, in his compelling The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower, a chilling pattern in the Ivy League and the Seven Sisters, as well as in some state universities and Catholic colleges. From callous indifference to the rise of Hitlerism . . . to concrete instances of complicity with the Nazi regime . . . Norwood provides an indictment of Hitler sympathizers in power at the heart of American education. . . . fascinating to the general reader. . . . [and] an invaluable resource to scholars as well.”—Forward

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521762434
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen H. Norwood, who holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, is Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. His two-volume Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, co-edited with Eunice G. Pollack (2008), received the Booklist Editor's Choice Award. He is also the author of three other books on American history, the winner of the Herbert G. Gutman Award in American Social History and the co-winner of the Macmillan/SABR Award in Baseball History. His articles have appeared in anthologies and numerous journals, including American Jewish History, Modern Judaism and the Journal of Social History.

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Table of Contents

1. Germany reverts to the Dark Ages: Nazi clarity and American awareness, 1933-1934; 2. Legitimating Nazism: Harvard University and the Hitler regime, 1933-1937; 3. Complicity and conflict: Columbia University's response to Fascism, 1933-1937; 4. The seven sisters colleges and the Third Reich: promoting fellowship through student exchange; 5. A respectful hearing for Nazi Germany's apologists: the University of Virginia Institute of Public Affairs round tables, 1933-1941; 6. Nazi nests: German departments in American Universities, 1933-1941; 7. American Catholic Universities' flirtation with Fascism; 8. 1938, year of the Kristallnacht: the limits of campus protest; Epilogue; Bibliography.

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