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George Washington U Hosted Nazis, New Research Reveals

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George Washington U Hosted Nazis, New Research Reveals

By:  Fern Sidman

New research by a leading historian has revealed that George Washington University repeatedly hosted Nazi diplomats in the 1930s, and later honored a Nazi collaborator—yet the university so far is refusing to apologize for those actions.

Holocaust historian Dr. Rafael Medoff found evidence in the university’s own records that GW welcomed Nazi representatives to its campus in 1933, 1934, and 1937.

In a widely-published essay ( https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/opinion/371059/the-nazis-at-george-washington-u/ ) , Dr. Medoff described how in October 1933, Gustav Struve, an official of Nazi Germany’s embassy in Washington DC, spoke on the GW campus under the auspices of  the university’s German Club.

The following year, Gerrit Von Haeften, Third Secretary of the German Embassy, visited GW and addressed its German Club. In 1937, two Nazi representatives, the wife and daughter of the German embassy’s Chancellor, Franz Schulz, took part in a campus event sponsored by GW’s International Studies Society.

“Friendly attitudes toward Nazi Germany appear to have permeated the campus,” Medoff wrote. “The visits by Nazi officials proceeded without any sign of objections or protests.”

The university also repeatedly hosted screenings of films that were “procured through the [Nazi] German Consul,” according a document cited by Dr. Medoff , who is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and author of more than twenty books about the Holocaust and Jewish history.

Dr. Medoff pointed out that long after Hitler’s book-burnings, mass firing of Jews from their jobs and the enactment of the infamous Nuremberg Laws, the GW campus newspaper “ran advertisements from the Nazi government’s tourism department and touted upcoming summer tours by GW students to Europe that included visits to Nazi Germany.”

The Wyman Institute director described how George Washington University also maintained a junior-year student exchange program with the Nazi-controlled University of Munich, “despite the purging of Jewish faculty, implementation of a Nazi curriculum, and mass book-burning at the Munich school.” The Hitler regime “viewed such exchanges with American universities as a way to soften the Nazis’ image abroad,” he noted.

GW students who took part in the program, and GW faculty who visited Germany in the 1930s, publicly praised the Nazi regime, Medoff found.

 

 

Similar student exchange programs with the Nazis were run by Harvard, Columbia, and other universities, according to the book The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower, by historian Stephen Norwood.

Dr. Medoff’s essay also reported that GW awarded an honorary doctorate to a Nazi collaborator, Mircea Eliade, in 1985. Eliade was an official of the Nazi-allied “Iron Guard” regime in Romania during the Holocaust, and wrote sympathetically about the Iron Guard in his autobiography more than 20 years later.

Medoff called on today’s GW administration to apologize for hosting Nazi officials in the 1930s, and to revoke the doctorate they gave to Eliade.

The Jewish Voice asked the university’s Executive Director of Media Relations, Joshua Grossman, for GW’s response to the revelations. Grossman replied that the university “categorically condemns Nazism” and opposes “all forms of discrimination and violence.”

Asked by the Jewish Voice whether GW will either apologize for what it did in the 1930s or withdraw Eliade’s doctorate, Grossman wrote: “The university appreciates and will take Professor Medoff’s suggestion under advisement.”

The university has responded in a very different way when other groups on campus have protested about their concerns in recent years. In 2022, GW removed the name of its longest-serving president, the late Cloyd Heck Marvin, from the university’s student center because he was an advocate of racial segregation. Last year,  the GW administration changed the school moniker from “Colonials” to “Revolutionaries” because of the  injustices associated with colonialism.

Meanwhile, GW students have been at the forefront of pro-Hamas protests since shortly after the October 7 massacres. They were the first to use light projection to beam gigantic pro-terrorist messages on campus buildings, a tactic that was subsequently copied by other student radicals around the country.

The university also gained notoriety recently when a student in one of the pro-Hamas rallies on its campus held up a sign calling for a “Final Solution,” the Nazi euphemism for the mass murder of millions of Jews. The Jewish Voice asked GW spokesman Grossman what action has been taken to penalize that student. Grossman’s reply did not address that matter.

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