Edward R. Murrow: Emergency Cmte in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars

Edward R. Murrow

“The thing that really concerns me is the general indifference of the university world and the smug complacency in the face of what has happened to Germany. There is a tendency to consider the matter as a Jewish problem and a failure to realize that it represents a threat to academic freedom in this county as well as in Europe. Part of this attitude undoubtedly has its roots in the latent anti-Semitism which in my judgment in increasing very rapidly over here.”

-Edward R. Murrow,  Asst. Director
The Emercency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars

Abbott Hamilton wrote in Scribner’s Commentator in 1941, “Must or should America shoulder problems, burdens and anxieties thrust upon her because of the violent policies of European dictators? Must we help the alien at the expense of our own citizens? Do we wish our educational institutions to be powerfully influenced by aliens?”

Frank Ritchie countered, “To slam shut the gates of immigration for such a reason is tantamount to admitting that American democracy has failed in the past and no longer exists today. All humanitarian considerations aside, Americans must look on these refugees as valuable assets cast adrift by the totally illogical policies of Nazi Germany”         

Marjorie Lamberti observed in “The Reception of Refugee Scholars from Nazi Germany in America” that by the early 1940s, refugees were considered “citizens by conviction” and the Emergency Committee reported that émigré chemists and physicists were doing work critical to the war effort. Alvin Johnson of the New School felt that émigré scholars in the social sciences could “de-provincialize” American higher education and provide faculty for programs in world economics, comparative government, and international relations.

In today’s environment of travel bans and restrictions on the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S., there has been renewed and increased efforts on the part of some of these organizations to provide aid to a new generation of displaced scholars. The New School has created the New University in Exile, providing two-year visiting positions for faculty from Syria, Turkey and other countries. The Institute of International Education – Edward R. Murrow’s former employer - has a Scholar Rescue Fund which has provided support to more than 750 professors and researchers from more than 50 countries since 2002. Murrow said of his time at the Institute, “It was the most personally satisfying undertaking in which I have ever engaged, and contributed more to my knowledge of politics and international relations than any similar period in my life.”


Edward R. Murrow: Emergency Cmte in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars