Case of the Nazi Professor
In 1935, the abrupt dismissal of a German professor at Rutgers University received national attention, arousing the interest of the FBI, ACLU and N.J ... Show synopsis In 1935, the abrupt dismissal of a German professor at Rutgers University received national attention, arousing the interest of the FBI, ACLU and N.J. state officials, and inciting a university hearing and report. Twenty-six-year-old Lienhard Bergel's contract was terminated, allegedly because of lack of funding, but in fact Bergel's politics clashed with department chair Friedrich J. Hauptmann's pro-Nazi views. Bergel's departure from Rutgers occurred amid a flurry of controversy that polarized students and administrators alike. Alan Silver, who had been a student activist in 1935, republicized the Bergel incident in 1985, prompting this volume. The authors, all Rutgers history faculty, here offer a chronicle of the school as well as re-create the political climate of those earlier times. However, a larger story never emerges from their assembled details. Vital matters, such as freedom of speech, the politics of academia and the activities of student peace groups, are obscured by a long roster of names and dates. Bergel's involvement with the FBI (he gave the agency information on Hauptmann's Nazi activities) is considered only in passing. Hauptmann's collaboration with the Nazis, a fascinating story, and his eventual repatriation during the war to Germany, is told too briefly. Though perhaps a document useful to Rutgers academics, the book is unlikely to command widespread attention. Illustrations not seen by PW.