Professor Stephen H. Norwood of the University of Oklahoma accused Harvard University at the Holocaust conference at Boston University this year of “remaining indifferent to the prosecution of German Jews.” He claims that Harvard University augmented the reputation of the Nazi regime when it sanctioned events in the 1930s attended by the Nazis.
“Harvard remained largely indifferent to the persecution of Germany’s Jews,” said Norwood, who is currently in the process of publishing a book about the responses of American universities to the Nazi party.
“The university was then and is now repulsed by everything that Hitler represents,” said a Harvard University spokesperson in a brief statement to The Boston Globe.
Harvard denies all ties to the Nazi party in that past and present but Norwood disagrees with this statement. He emphasized how administrators at Harvard welcomed one of Adolf Hitler’s closest deputies to a reunion, hosted a reception for German naval officials and sent delegates to a celebration at a German university that had expelled Jews.
He accuses Harvard of remaining “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.”
A past president of Harvard University, James Bryant Conant,
“Conant could easily have denounced the visit but did not,” said Norwood about Conant’s hospitality towards some of Hitler’s closest deputies at a Harvard reunion.
Conant was the chairman of the National Defense Research Committee and played a significant role in the development of the atomic bomb. In 1953 Conant was appointed as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany and later served as ambassador to West Germany.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities also played a significant and instrumental role during the war between Germany and Europe. During the 1930s and ‘40s, Jewish refugee professors took refuge at several southern Black colleges including Howard University and Hampton Institute These universities provided a new home for these professors and allowed then to continue to pursue their professions and academic research.
“They found a place where they could make a contribution, and they found a place where they could pursue their intellectual life. They found a place where they could make a difference,” said Dr. Ismar Schorsch a past Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
“It was a relationship that was based on caring and concern and it developed a respect and appreciation that lasted my lifetime,” said Jim McWilliams a former student at Talladega College, another school that harbored Jewish refugees.