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“Rather More than One-Third Had No Jewish Blood”: American Progressivism and German-Jewish Cosmopolitanism at the New School for Social Research, 1933–1939

Duke University, Carr Building, East Campus, Durham 27708, North Carolina, USA
Religions 2012, 3(1), 99-129;
Received: 5 January 2012 / Revised: 7 March 2012 / Accepted: 7 March 2012 / Published: 16 March 2012


The New School for Social Research’s University in Exile accepted more German and European exiled intellectuals than any other American institution of higher education. This paper argues that transnational, cosmopolitan ideological and interest-based affinities shared by left-leaning American progressives and German-Jewish intellectuals enabled the predominantly Jewish University in Exile to become a vibrant intellectual space accepted by the community of largely anti-Semitic American academics. These affinities also illuminate why, despite the fact that the émigrés’ exile was in large part the result of National Socialist hatred of Jews, Alvin Johnson (the founder of the University in Exile) and the faculty members that comprised it seldom discussed the University’s Jewish demographics. The Jewish faculty members ignored the relationship between their ethnicity and exile because to focus on it would have been to admit that the cosmopolitan project they had embraced in Central Europe had failed. Johnson ignored the faculty’s Jewish heritage for two reasons. First, he endorsed a cosmopolitan American nationalism. Second, he understood that the generally anti-Semitic community of American academics would have rejected the University in Exile if he stressed the faculty’s Jewishness. In ignoring the University in Exile’s Jewish demographics, Johnson and the University’s faculty successfully adhered to a strategy designed to foster the exiles’ entrance into the American intellectual community. Thus, while cosmopolitanism failed in Germany and Central Europe, the exiles’ later influence on the American academy indicates that it partially succeeded in the United States.


Of all American institutions of higher education, the New School for Social Research in New York City accepted the largest number of German and European intellectual exiles during the era of National Socialism [1]. Founded in 1933 and soon renamed the “Graduate Faculty in Political and Social Science” (Graduate Faculty), this “University in Exile” served as the wartime home to 184 exiled scholars, seventy-four of whom hailed from Germany [2]. It was at the New School that a full one-quarter of all intellectual émigrés to the United States worked. The University in Exile saved several of the most influential academics of the twentieth century, including Hans Kelsen, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Bronislaw Malinowski, Leo Strauss, and Max Wertheimer [3]. Several future policymakers, including Karl Brandt, Gerhard Colm, and Hans Speier, also made this institution their home. The story of the New School in the 1930s is one central to twentieth century American and transatlantic intellectual history.
The University in Exile has been the exclusive subject of one scholarly monograph, Claus-Dieter Krohn’s Intellectuals in Exile [4]. Krohn’s work is a complete account of the gestation, founding, and influence of the Graduate Faculty, particularly its economists, on American social science. However, in explaining how the New School thrived in the 1930s and 1940s, Krohn focuses almost exclusively on structural factors, particularly the relationship between the University in Exile and its financial backers. This work assumes that securing funds was the most crucial factor in enabling the Graduate Faculty to find an intellectual home in America. While Krohn relates how Alvin Johnson, the individual behind the University in Exile, recruited politically and culturally like-minded scholars to the New School, Intellectuals in Exile generally ignores the role ideas played in allowing the University in Exile to thrive in its early years.
This paper augments Krohn’s structural account by demonstrating how transnational ideological and interest-based affinities shared by left-leaning American progressives and German-Jewish intellectuals enabled the predominantly Jewish University in Exile to become a vibrant intellectual space accepted by anti-Semitic American academics [5]. I argue that both groups—American progressives and European Jewish exiles—embraced complementary cosmopolitan ideologies. Left-leaning progressives like Johnson subscribed to a social vision that sought to reinvigorate American nationalism by incorporating ideas and traditions from European cultures [6]. They thus supported the possible contributions European exiles could make in America. This idea was accepted, and indeed embraced, by the German-Jewish intellectuals who comprised much of the Graduate Faculty. These individuals were the inheritors of a post-emancipation German and Central European Jewish intellectual tradition that sought to deny the importance of Jewish ethnicity in favor of a secular and cosmopolitan intellectual identity. Both Johnson and the members of the University in Exile adhered to ideologies that embraced the notion of an international Republic of Letters in which intellectuals from any nation could contribute positively to a society’s development. The cosmopolitan affinities shared by Johnson and the faculty members explain why the New School functioned smoothly as an institution, with Johnson and faculty members rarely disagreeing as to the University in Exile’s American mission.
These affinities also illuminate why, despite the fact that the émigrés’ exile was the result of National Socialist hatred of Jews, Johnson and the faculty members seldom discussed the University in Exile’s Jewish demographics. The Jewish faculty members ignored the relationship between their ethnicity and exile because to focus on it would have been to admit that the cosmopolitan project they had embraced had failed. Moreover, in both the European and American contexts, integration was at stake. Therefore, when the émigrés first came to America, they continued in the same mode they had in Europe. At the same time, if Johnson mentioned the faculty’s Jewish heritage, the largely anti-Semitic community of American academics would have rejected his own cosmopolitan undertaking. In ignoring the University in Exile’s Jewish demographics, Johnson and the faculty successfully adhered to a strategy designed to foster the exiles’ entrance into the American intellectual community. Each had an interest in promoting the University in Exile’s scholarship and eliding the émigrés’ Jewishness was central to this goal. Indeed, in the late-1930s, collections published by the University in Exile received almost uniformly positive reviews, indicating that the faculty was not “tainted” by its Jewish makeup. By the end of the decade, however, the Jewish members of the Graduate Faculty could no longer ignore the special place occupied by Jews in the National Socialist imagination. In “Forms and Features of Anti-Judaism,” a biting essay released in 1939, Erich Kahler explicitly rejected the cosmopolitan project embraced by his colleagues. This essay inaugurated New School scholars’ new focus on Jewish issues. With the failure of the European cosmopolitan project, the University in Exile’s faculty turned to examining what they had so long ignored: their Judaism. Their ability to do so, however, indicated the American achievement of their cosmopolitan goals.

The Founding of the University in Exile

In 1919, a group of well-known liberals, radical democrats, and philanthropists that included Charles A. Beard, John Dewey, Horace M. Kallen, Thorstein Veblen, and Felix Frankfurter founded the New School for Social Research. These liberal progressives created the New School in response to Columbia University president Nicholas Murray Butler’s dismissal of several professors for refusing to take a loyalty oath to the American government and opposing U.S. engagement in World War I [7]. Angered at Butler’s stifling of intellectual expression, these intellectuals formed the New School as a self-conscious bastion of academic freedom, partially modeled on the German Volkshochschulen dedicated to adult and worker education [8]. Similar to many American educational progressives of the day, these intellectuals hoped to use social science to achieve liberal socioeconomic goals [9].
Alvin Johnson, the central force behind the creation of the University in Exile, was one of the New School’s founders. Johnson was born and raised in Nebraska, the son of Danish immigrants. He served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War, and at the end of the war matriculated as a graduate student in economics at Columbia University. At Columbia, he studied under E.R.A. Seligman and Franklin Giddings and received his Ph.D in 1902 [10]. Johnson worked in academia until 1915, when Herbert Croly, the founder of The New Republic, invited him to join the magazine as an assistant editor [11]. Johnson accepted the offer, and through The New Republic became involved with the progressive New York intellectual circle that founded the New School. He was naturally attracted to John Dewey’s progressive educational philosophy and eagerly accepted a position as one of the New School’s first faculty members. By the early 1920s, Johnson had become the New School’s first president. For the next decade, he improved the institution’s finances, enlarged its scholarly focus from the policy and social sciences to the humanities, and built its reputation as a local leader in arts education.
Transatlantic connections forged in the 1920s became the seeds of the University in Exile’s germination. Johnson was fluent in German and had since the beginning of his career been interested in German academia [12]. In 1924, Johnson and the Jewish financier-statesmen Bernard Baruch traveled to Germany to study the hyperinflation and derive lessons for how American policymakers could avoid a similar economic crisis. On this trip, Johnson made the acquaintance of Emil Lederer, a Jewish economist and member of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) then teaching at the University of Heidelberg. Johnson and Lederer retained their friendship and continued to correspond throughout the 1920s. In 1927, Johnson accepted Seligman’s offer to serve as associate editor of an American encyclopedia of the social sciences modeled on the Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften. Upon doing so, he asked Lederer to recommend German colleagues to contribute [13]. Over the next several years, Lederer recommended numerous German academics that wound up contributing to the encyclopedia. By the time the Encyclopedia ofeventually fifteen-volumes began to appear in the 1930s, several future members of the University in Exile, including Lederer, Gerhard Colm, Fritz Lehmann, and Hans Speier, had written entries.
These positive experiences with German academia generally, and Lederer specifically, enlarged Johnson’s already considerable respect for German social science. As he watched the rise of National Socialism from abroad, Johnson began to recognize that, if Hitler triumphed, many left wing and Jewish academics would require a home in exile. Soon after Hitler’s seizure of power in January 1933, Johnson began to create an institution dedicated to preserving the German academic tradition he correctly believed the Nazis would destroy. He hoped that this new “University in Exile” would serve “as a liaison between American university culture and the pre-Nazi German university culture [14].” Echoing his colleague Dewey’s idea of developing an “international nationalism,” Johnson maintained that providing a safe haven for German academics would be beneficial not only to the rescued Germans, but to American society and intellectual culture as well. This intellectual migration, Johnson hoped, would reinvigorate American social science and provide it with the necessary tools to affect social change.
Lederer was centrally involved in the University in Exile’s creation. In February 1933, Harold Butler, the Director of the International Labor Office, invited Lederer to participate in a Parisian conference on the relationship between technological progress and unemployment. After leaving Germany to attend the conference, Lederer never returned, immigrating instead to London. This was a prescient decision, as Lederer was one of the first professors the Nazis intended to dismiss, likely due to his socialism. From the beginning, Johnson had intended Lederer to be the major German intellectual force behind his envisioned institution. In early 1933, he approached Lederer about his plans “to get ten or a dozen [German professors] to the U.S. to set up a German university in exile [15].” Lederer quickly accepted Johnson’s request and turned down a position at the University of Manchester to move to New York [16]. According to Lederer’s student, Hans Speier, who himself became the youngest founding member of the University in Exile, Lederer “was impressed by Johnson’s pragmatic liberalism and considered work at a new free university, which in the prevailing circumstances could become a political symbol, to be more worthwhile than joining a well-established institution [17].” In joining the University in Exile, Lederer symbolically demonstrated to the German and international academic community that, despite the attempts of domestic political reactionaries, academic freedom would always find an international home.
Throughout the spring and summer of 1933, Johnson diligently worked to raise funds for his institution [18]. By May 13, he had collected $120,000 from the Jewish philanthropist Hiram Halle and the Rockefeller Foundation, which allowed him to fund fifteen professorships at a salary of $4,000 per year [19]. To win American intellectual support for his and Lederer’s venture, Johnson drafted a letter signed by several hundred social scientists supporting the University in Exile’s founding [20]. In June of that year, Johnson applied for and received a provisional charter from the Board of Regents of New York State [21].
At Lederer and Johnson’s request, throughout the summer of 1933, Speier, who was a Lutheran (although married to a Jewish pediatrician), traveled back and forth between London and Germany with contracts for the University’s founding members. Over that summer, Johnson, Lederer, and Speier successfully recruited ten academics to found the University in Exile. In the schema of early- to mid-twentieth century United States immigration law, intellectuals were considered “non-quota” immigrants and could thus immigrate more easily than members of other social groups [22]. The ten founding members of the University in Exile were Karl Brandt (agricultural science); Gerhard Colm (economics); Arthur Feiler (economics); Eduard Heimann (economics); Erich von Hornbostel (sociology of music); Herman Kantorowicz (law); Lederer (economics); Speier (sociology); Max Wertheimer (Gestalt psychology); and Frieda von Wunderlich (social policy). The progressive Johnson recruited these scholars because each “supported the democratic government under the Weimar constitution [23].” Additionally, most were Social Democrats or held social democratic sympathies, were empirically oriented social scientists, and were associates of Lederer [24]. The New School scholars hailed primarily from three institutions: the University of Frankfurt, the Kiel Institute for World Economics, and the Berlin-based Hochschule für Politik (College for Politics) [25]. Most importantly for Johnson and Lederer, each New School member was an intellectual concerned with using social science as a means to reach social and economic progressive ends [26].
With the faculty and funding in place, the University in Exile—renamed the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science because the New York State Department of Education would not allow an institution with only a single faculty to call itself a “university”—opened its doors in October 1933 [27]. The Graduate Faculty grew significantly over the next few years. In the spring of 1934 there were 18 faculty members; by the summer of 1939, there were 33. After Germany’s defeat of France in the summer of 1940, many more came. Student enrollment also increased as the Graduate Faculty’s reputation rose in the 1930s. In the fall of 1933, the University in Exile had only 92 students; by 1940 that number had risen to 520. [28]. As these numbers indicate, the Graduate Faculty flourished in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Presentation of the University in Exile, 1933–1939

Two-thirds of the Graduate Faculty’s founding members were Jewish [29]. Many more Jewish academics came to the New School as the Nazi erawore on. However, throughout the 1930s, Johnson, Lederer, and the rest of the New School faculty refused to present the University in Exile as a haven for German Jews. They instead offered the New School as an institution dedicated to defending intellectual freedom and the best aspects of the pre-Nazi German academic tradition. There was very little talk of Judaism or the role the faculty’s ethnicity played in their immigration. At first, such a position was defensible, as the Nazis’ initial program was premised upon removing political as opposed to racial enemies. Nevertheless, by April 1933, the Nazis had begun to strip Jews of their rights and it was clear that the Jews were no longer welcome in Germany.
This unwillingness or inability to discuss the New School scholars’ Jewish identity had two intellectual sources, each of which hailed from one side of the transatlantic divide. The first was an American progressive vision, argued most explicitly by John Dewey, which sought to incorporate European intellectual, social, and cultural traditions into a reinvigorated American nationalism. Dewey, Johnson, and other left-leaning progressives believed that they must work to create a new “international nationalism” that was nevertheless American. This international nationalism, they hoped, would result in a cultural exchange that would undergird a progressive American future [30].
Nonetheless, this ideology did not necessarily mean that Johnson had to deny completely the faculty’s Judaism. He could have mentioned their ethnicity but downplayed it. I argue that Johnson’s total elision of the faculty member’s Jewish heritage was both a consequence of his progressive commitments and a strategy designed to avoid the anti-Semitism that permeated American higher education during the interwar period. Johnson hoped that American academics would accept the University in Exile as a peer institution. At the time, however, many American universities were permeated with anti-Semitism. Most, including almost all of the elite colleges, had imposed strict quotas on Jewish students and faculty. Johnson was very much aware of educational anti-Semitism and railed against it from his position as president of the American Section of the International League for Academic Freedom [31]. He had himself received criticism from colleagues who believed that there was no room for Jews in American academia [32]. If Johnson had stressed the faculty’s Judaism, he would have alienated his academic peers.
The post-emancipation German-Jewish embrace of the universalist Bildung educational philosophy constituted the second, European intellectual source of the New School’s position regarding its Jewish demographics. Traditional Bildung referred to the idealist-romantic process of “cultivating” oneself through extensive reading in classical texts of the Greco-Roman and German traditions and the conduct of original research in one’s Wissenschaft (science). Engagement with Bildung and Wissenschaft was supposed to engender a coherent Weltanschauung (worldview) in a student [33]. As one scholar notes, the “pursuit of truth was to lead to something like integral insight and moral certainty” [34]. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Central European Jewish intellectuals believed that participation in Bildung was the key to their acceptance by secular society. This Jewish embrace of Bildung, however, came at the expense of particularist Jewish identities. Jews denied their Judaism and appropriated the cosmopolitanism of Bildung. This was Jewish intellectuals’ strategy of assimilation and acceptance (ironically, this cosmopolitanism was primarily about Jewish integration into a national community). By ignoring their Judaism in the 1930s, the majority of faculty members did the same in America as they had in Germany, defining themselves as secular intellectuals, not Jews [35]. With this vision, they believed they could contribute positively to society’s advance while fostering their own acceptance into the American intellectual community.
In the 1930s, the New School’s University in Exile was an institutional site that saw the merging of two coherent and complementary philosophies. Both the left-leaning American progressive and Central European Jewish traditions were cosmopolitan in character. As we will see, even in the face of the Nazi threat, Johnson, Lederer, and the majority of the New School scholars remained silent about the faculty’s Judaism. This helped engender their acceptance into American academia. It was not until 1939, when it had become too clear to deny that Hitler and the National Socialists posed an existential threat to European and world Jewry, that faculty members began to address their Judaism.

Johnson and Judaism

In the Graduate Faculty’s first course catalogue, which was almost certainly written by Johnson (perhaps with minor aid from Lederer and other faculty members), there was no mention of National Socialist racial policy nor the regime’s specific animosity toward Jews [36]. Johnson justified the creation of the University in Exile with reference only to “the reorganization of German university life under the National Socialist revolution.” Because of Nazi political regulations, Johnson continued, scholars of “international reputation have been dismissed” or given indefinite furloughs from teaching. He declared that the Nazis denied politically problematic scholars “academic liberty” and, as “an American institution,” the New School was obligated “to express by word and act its own faith” in intellectual freedom [37]. Throughout the catalogue, Johnson continued to downplay the faculty’s Judaism. His only critique of Nazi racism occurred within a discussion of the regime’s educational policy. According to the catalogue, all faculty members believed “that real education begins where racial, religious and political intolerance ends.” A salient display of Johnson’s general unwillingness to underline the unique position occupied by Jews in the Nazi racial imagination was the fact that the catalogue never mentioned the word “Jew.” He instead repeatedly referred to the faculty as comprising only “German professors.” Johnson thus presented the founding of the University in Exile as a defense of democracy and intellectual freedom, not a rejection of Nazi racism [38].
Theoretically, in the first months of Hitler’s rule, one could have argued that the Nazis mainly were persecuting political enemies. By the autumn of 1933, however, the National Socialist perspective regarding Jews was very clear. Events such as the April 1, 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses, the April passing of laws that banned Jews from serving as civil servants (including university professors), lawyers, or editors—and which also enacted Jewish student quotas—andthe thousands of anti-Semitic references that recurred throughout Nazi speeches, propaganda, and publications made the degraded position that Jews now occupied in Germany clear. In spite of these obvious signals, however, this first course catalogue presented the University in Exile as a space where liberal German professors could teach “German methods” and the “German point of view” (both of which were, in actuality, the German-Jewish point of view) to American students. It was Nazi “political requirements,” not racial hatred, which had resulted in the dismissal of the new faculty members [39]. Throughout the 1930s, Johnson offered similar claims in Social Research (the journal created to popularize the Graduate Faculty’s work in America), for example referring to the National Socialist triumph solely as a “political” revolution [40].
In the first course catalogue, Johnson repeatedly appealed to the language of international scientific cosmopolitanism when discussing why a university in exile was “an institution long overdue in the modern world [41].” When praising German universities, for example, Johnson singled out for special admiration the fact that earlier in history German universities retained “a highly international” character [42]. When discussing Social Research, he declared that it would focus exclusively on “international tendencies” in the social sciences [43]. In the first issue of the journal, he similarly stated that the knowledge produced by the Graduate Faculty was “of the world at large [44].” Declarations that “scholarship is international” and that all defenders of intellectual freedom, particularly Americans, who “justly clai[m] a position of leadership in civilization,” must work together to create institutions dedicated to serving exiles for the purpose of reinvigorating American culture, peppered his writings. Such claims mirrored typical left-leaning progressive language. Echoing Dewey and other leftist progressives, in Johnson’s conception the international, European contributions of the New School would contribute to the renewal of American life. Eventually, this would benefit not only America, but the world.
Johnson thus presented a vision of a world characterized by an international society at the center of which stood the American nation. This society, he declared, must become the haven for all intellectuals rejected by their homelands. Anyone dedicated to democratic values, whether from Europe or America, could help create new, practical, and progressive knowledge. In the post World War I era of crisis, Americans must incorporate exiles’ ideas to aid in their quest for a progressive future.
The desire to elide the faculty’s Judaism was made starkly clear in Johnson’s 1935 declaration that:
The men who compose this German faculty were expelled from their posts essentially for one reason only. They chose to be free. In the majority of cases the official ground for dismissal was ‘political unreliability.’ They could not consent to stultify themselves by accepting the official political and social doctrines and thereby forfeit their scholarly right to follow the truth wherever it might lead. They regarded liberty as worth whatever sacrifices it might entail, and therewith placed themselves in the honored company of the [American] men who, by their readiness to endure sacrifice, won liberty for the English-speaking peoples [45].
This is an astonishing passage. In presenting the search for intellectual freedom and adherence to democratic political values as the reasons for the Graduate Faculty’s exile, Johnson downplayed the importance of the race-based dogmatisms of National Socialism. Although it was true that many of the faculty were politically unacceptable to the Nazis, being socialists, fellow travelers, or liberals, many left for racial reasons. Even Speier, a non-Jew, fled Germany because he was married to a Jewish woman. Yet in Johnson’s presentation, it was only intellectual and political, not racial, considerations that necessitated the University in Exile’s creation. Johnson’s denial of the ethnic heritage of the faculty members was further evident in the historical precedents for the Graduate Faculty that he cited. For instance, he referred to the University in Exile as the intellectual-institutional heir of the University of Padua, which was founded in the early 13th century in response to political oppression experienced at the University of Bologna. This ignored cases to which the University in Exile was truly analogous, such as Puritan exiles’ founding of Harvard in 1636. Johnson asserted that what the Nazis rejected was “liberalism,” not Judaism [46].
Johnson’s most outrageous denial of the faculty members’ Judaism came in the section of a 1935 report to the New School’s trustees entitled “Racial and Political Constitution of the Faculty.” Here, Johnson explicitly disavowed the Jewish character of the Graduate Faculty. As he said, “[t]here is a prevalent conception that the German professors expelled from their chairs were all either ‘Marxians’ or Jews. This conception is not valid so far as the Graduate Faculty is concerned. In selecting scholars for the faculty,” Johnson continued, “no attention was given to such irrelevant matters as race and religion” [47]. He stressed that “rather more than one-third [of the faculty] had no Jewish blood at all and of the others several could be classed as non-Aryan only by virtue of the ‘grandparent clause [48].’” Johnson took pains to portray the faculty as specifically non-Jewish, as only Jewish under the ridiculous laws of the Nazis. The University in Exile was not to be tainted publicly by the Jewish blood that did in fact comprise it.
Johnson’s presentation of the University in Exile as a cosmopolitan intellectual haven for political refugees closely mirrored John Dewey’s educational philosophy and views of cultural immigration. Johnson and Dewey were colleagues who belonged to the same progressive New York intellectual circles. Dewey and Johnson also worked together at the New School, and Dewey was on the University in Exile’s board. The respect Johnson had for Dewey was clearly reflected in his helping to found the John Dewey Society, an organization devoted to progressive education and educational philosophy, in 1935 [49]. Moreover, at Dewey’s ninetieth birthday, Johnson was invited to give a tribute to him, a favor which Dewey repaid at Johnson’s seventy-fifth birthday [50]. Later in life, Johnson would designate Dewey as one of the “great men” of twentieth century American thought [51]. In addition to these personal connections, Dewey’s philosophy strongly influenced Johnson, which one sees when comparing the former’s work with the latter’s presentation of the University in Exile.
In the pre-World War I era, many progressives believed that the large number of European immigrants who began settling in America in the nineteenth century needed to undergo a process of “Americanization [52].” Right-leaning progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt adopted an avowedly nationalistic perspective that advocated immigrants’ complete divestment of their European cultural heritage and full embrace of “American” values. Many other progressives, such as Jacob A. Riis, similarly believed that one must work to dissolve and replace the ethnic heritages of European immigrants. Dewey and other left-leaning progressives rejected these arguments. They instead advocated for immigrants to retain aspects of their cultural heritages and inject them into American life [53]. Dewey and others believed these cosmopolitan injections would lead to a rejuvenated “cosmopolitan American nationalism” that would support the achievement of progressive goals [54].
Thus, before 1918, Dewey wanted to create a new, international American nationalism, undergirded by core American ideals but enriched by European cultures [55]. A number of well-known progressives advocated a similar position, including Horace Kallen (the immigrant son of an orthodox rabbi who taught at the New School in the interwar years), Jane Addams, Emily Greene Bach, and Randolph Bourne [56]. However, after World War I, many left-leaning progressives abandoned this cultural focus in favor of highlighting American economic injustice [57]. When in the early-1930s Johnson advocated the use of the New School as a means to create an international American culture, he was somewhat of an atavism. But, unlike most progressives, Johnson had since 1924 been very much concerned with German developments, particularly the rise of National Socialism. This likely led him to be more sensitive to cultural issues than his economically focused contemporaries. Indeed, progressives would re-embrace cultural arguments in the 1930s and 1940s, as Nazi and Soviet successes re-indicated the important role culture played in modern life.
Johnson’s cosmopolitan presentation of the German exiles as strengthening American social science with their own European intellectual traditions mirrored Dewey’s philosophy of international American nationalism. But why, then, did Johnson downplay the faculty’s Judaism while stressing their German-ness? In theory, he could have highlighted the faculty’s ethnic identity while maintaining that, once the best parts of this identity were assimilated, it would be transcended. The answer to this question lies in the prevalent anti-Semitism of the American university system in the interwar period. The problem of Jewish quota systems at major universities was well known at the time, with a variety of newspaper and magazine articles addressing the subject [58]. Although elite, American protestant culture had long been defined by what scholars have termed “genteel anti-semitism”—a type of polite, non-violent, yet pervasive distrust and fear of Jews—it was only in the interwar years that Protestant-dominated American colleges and universities began to engage in serious efforts to limit Jewish enrollment [59]. Johnson, a college president interested in educational administration and philosophy, was very aware of this issue. To overcome it and reach his cosmopolitan goals, Johnson strategically ignored the faculty’s Judaism. This, he hoped, would foster their American acceptance.
Johnson was also likely worried about the New School’s standing as an elite institution. Since its founding as a progressive offshoot of Columbia, the New School had attempted to position itself as an alternative to other elite American universities. The fact that Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler and Harvard president Abbott Lawrence Lowell had made clear their belief that Jewish enrollment would endanger Anglo-Saxon protestant culture must have strengthened Johnson’s commitment to ignoring the exiles’ Judaism.
Various trends bolstered American academics’ fear of Jews in the 1920s and impelled the creation of the quota system. There was worry over immigration (which manifested in the 1924 Immigration Act) and the concomitant rise of nativism and racial science. Protestant elites also feared that they could not compete with Jews academically and that Jewish business success (enabled by education) would lead to the erosion of their own economic standing and social prestige. In addition to such academic and economic anxieties, protestant elites shared the cultural fear that the infiltration of supposedly effeminate Jews into the American aristocracy would attenuate the masculinity of the next generation of elites [60]. The ancient religious charge that the Jews were the murderers of Jesus Christ fortified these anti-Semitic impulses. The process of American universities’ democratization also strengthened these economic and cultural fears [61]. In the 1920s and 1930s, then, many American Protestant intellectuals considered the Jews as economic and cultural challengers who must be prevented from entering the American elite [62].
Such attitudes manifested in the quota systems, limiting Jewish student enrollment and faculty appointments. In the interwar years, many universities, including Adelphi, Barnard, Brown, Cincinnati, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Princeton, Rutgers, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington and Lee, and Yale, imposed quotas on Jewish students and faculty [63]. Yale did not promote a Jew to the position of full professor until 1946. The humanities, in particular, were bastions of anti-Semitic prejudice [64]. In their anti-Semitism, American protestant intellectuals echoed more general social attitudes toward Jews [65]. Unique among immigrant groups, the more Jews succeeded in American society the more Americans resented them [66]. Presenting the New School as a Jewish institution in an overtly anti-Semitic educational environment would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for Johnson to achieve his cosmopolitan goal of popularizing German academia among American intellectuals. Had he stressed the faculty’s Judaism, he would have done little but contribute to their American alienation.
The argument that Johnson’s ignoring of the ethnic identities of the Graduate Faculty was a strategy designed to increase the likelihood of their American success is bolstered by the fact that Johnson was by no means an anti-Semite and was quite attuned to Jew hatred. In addition to his personally saving more than one hundred European-Jewish scholars, Johnson repeatedly devoted himself to fighting educational anti-Semitism. He did so throughout the 1930s as a member and president of the American Section of the International League for Academic Freedom. Later, in 1946, he helped found the New York State Committee against Discrimination in Education specifically to fight the Jewish quota system [67]. Johnson was very clearly not an anti-Semite. However, given the interwar climate of intellectual and university-associated anti-Semitism, it would have been an imprudent strategy for Johnson to focus on, or even acknowledge, the faculty’s Jewish identity. This could have, in theory, alienated not only fellow academics but also some of the non-Jewish associated funding sources upon which the Graduate Faculty relied. Indeed, representatives of the Rockefeller Foundation had made disparaging remarks about Jews in the past [68]. Doing anything to limit exiles’ acceptance into American academia would have been foolhardy [69]. For cosmopolitanism, Johnson denied the faculty’s Jewish demographics.

The Graduate Faculty and Judaism

The fact that Jewish New School scholars similarly kept silent about their Judaism facilitated the Graduate Faculty’s success and aided Johnson’s strategy of assimilation. Like Johnson, the Graduate Faculty publicly denied that the creation of the University in Exile had anything to do with Nazi racial policy. As a collective they first displayed this belief in their academic constitution. Mirroring Johnson’s language, the University in Exile’s constitution declared that the Graduate Faculty was primarily “founded upon the principles of academic freedom” [70]. The only mention of race or religion came in a sub-clause that forbade discriminating against a potential hire for “scientifically irrelevant considerations.” As late as 1939, when National Socialist persecution of German Jews had become incontrovertible, the Graduate Faculty still refused to mention their Judaism in official reports to the New School’s board and donors (implying that fears of pulled funding contributed to their denial of Judaism) [71]. In no way did faculty members wish publicly to portray the University in Exile as a Jewish institution.
To understand how Jewish New School scholars portrayed themselves to the outside world, one must examine the articles they wrote for Social Research. Although the journal was intended to promote not only faculty scholars’, but also other exiles’ work, for its first few years the majority of Social Research contributors were members of the University in Exile. Johnson and the faculty were fairly successful in disseminating Social Research: by September 1936, the journal had 523 American and 114 foreign subscribers [72]. What is most striking about 1930s articles from Social Research is the almost complete lack of discussion regarding Judaism, Jews, and the German and European Jewish problem. Throughout the mid-1930s, the word “Jews” was mentioned in only 21 Social Research articles and book reviews; “Jewish” in 16; “Judaism” in six; variations on “anti-Semitism” in six; variations on “anti-Semitic” in five; and “Jew” in four. Many of these terms were used in the same articles. Zionism was not mentioned at all [73]. Compare this to the fact that the term “intellectual” was used in 111 articles and book reviews.
When Jewish New School scholars did discuss Judaism, it was primarily in an oblique, passing fashion. In 1935, for example, Albert Salomon briefly referred to “the pariah existence of the Jews” in an essay that discussed Max Weber’s sociology [74]. Arthur Feiler made a similar fleeting reference to Jews in 1937, declaring that the “great changes” in social life that occurred under German fascism came from “the degradation of Jews, socialists, liberals, Catholics, Protestants and women [75].” The fact that Feiler mentioned Jews as the first group in a series of those persecuted by fascism implied he understood Jews occupied a special place in the Nazi racial pantheon. He did not, however, engage in a protracted analysis or discussion of the Jews’ position.
The few articles that did discuss Jewish issues at some length submerged these discussions within other subjects. In an essay on “Education in Nazi Germany,” Frieda Wunderlich mentioned that in the National Socialist imagination, political and civil rights were “derived from the folk,” a “mystic community of blood” from which the Jews were excluded [76]. Wunderlich further underlined that a major goal of the National Socialists was to awaken “sound racial forces [77]”. In a later book review, she argued that racial restrictions had led to a decline in the quality of German scholarship, while elsewhere she emphasized that the Nazis considered the Jews to be their major enemy [78]. However, Wunderlich’s statements were made with reference to a specific topic, be it Nazi education or philosophical justice. Her essays indicate that she was well aware of the special place Jews occupied in the Nazi imagination, but she remained unwilling to discuss the Jewish problem at length.
The example of Wunderlich demonstrates that faculty members were aware of the centrality of the Jewish question to the Nazi project. For the most part, however, the Graduate Faculty ignored Judaism, even in instances where it would have made sense to mention it. When talking about the loss of liberty under dictatorships, Lederer argued that every autocracy prosecuted “a ‘purge’ eliminating all those who dare to resist” [79]. He made no mention of Judaism. Of course, few Jews resisted National Socialism, and Lederer’s 1937 remarks make little sense. Moreover, his description of dictatorship included no mention of the racial aspects upon which Nazi autocracy rested. He simply declared that dictatorships “extol violence and brutality, they appeal to the ferocious instincts, they build up a sinister mythology of national pride and superiority, and establish crude standards of discipline and of stereotyped thinking to which everyone must conform [80].” Lederer could have added that the German dictatorship was premised upon racial exclusion, an exclusion that caused his own and his colleagues’ exiles. The fact that he did not demonstrates his unwillingness to address the Jewish issue [81].
Between 1933 and 1939, the Graduate Faculty spent no time discussing the peculiar features of modern German anti-Semitism or the Jewish nature of their exile. Faculty members did, however, collectively define themselves as cosmopolitan intellectuals. That the Jewish scholars of the New School identified strongly as intellectuals may first be seen in the fact that one of their major proffered explanations for Nazism’s success was that intellectuals had failed in their duty to defend Weimar democracy [82]. Lederer blamed intellectuals—and hence himself and his colleagues—for failing to overcome the German labor movement’s inherent wariness of them. Lederer maintained that because intellectuals were unaware that policy was not a completely rational phenomenon, but depended on the manipulation of emotions, they were unable to speak to German workers in an effective manner [83]. Without intellectuals, workers, who did not understand the world’s complexity, were unable to seize power [84]. Eduard Heimann similarly maintained that Weimar intellectuals were unwilling to develop a philosophical principle that had the capacity to unite the disparate elements of the German nation and thus organize an anti-reactionary political bloc able to seize and retain power. Heimann further declared that intellectual democrats were unable to use education to give students a coherent Weltanschauung that would have allowed them to reject National Socialist appeals [85]. Adolf Löwe also blamed the German university system for failing to provide students with a “social consciousness” that had at its center the defense of democracy. Without such a social consciousness, Löwe retrospectively argued, the interwar explosion of academic unemployment was bound to result in a general social upheaval that found academics serving as the “propagandists and officers of the counterrevolution [86].” Wunderlich and Colm echoed this latter viewpoint [87].
In blaming intellectuals for democracy’s failure, the Jewish New School scholars were implicitly placing responsibility for Weimar’s collapse on themselves. Yet they were also signaling to American audiences that they identified primarily as intellectuals, not Jews. Faculty members’ self-identification as intellectuals was further displayed in their strong advocacy of intellectual involvement in American life. Throughout the 1930s, Lederer argued that science was integral to political life, and that exiled intellectuals like himself and his colleagues must do what they could to have their work speak to the contemporary problems of their adopted homeland. Without social science, “complicated procedures of government and administration, of business, industry, commerce, journalism,” could not possibly be performed [88]. This was doubly true during the Great Depression, which many of the faculty members—reflecting their German experiences—believed threatened democracy. In Lederer’s opinion, the basic calling of modern intellectual life, especially for exile intellectuals denied academic freedom in their homeland, was to defend democratic values. Intellectuals must become men of action, “uniting and giving strength” to liberty’s defense [89]. These actions, however, had nothing to do with overcoming the racial hatred that led to their exile.
Other Jewish faculty members echoed this appeal to intellectual engagement in social and political life. Salomon declared that periods of economic and political crisis like the 1930s created the social conditions that allowed intellectuals to “arrive at definite insights into the primordial phenomena of social life and the intellectual connection of antagonistic concepts within a higher spiritual unity [90].” He argued that European exile intellectuals, who retained a deeper philosophical knowledge than pragmatic American colleagues, must remove religious, moral, and social values from dogmatism. Doing so enabled societies to rediscover universal humanism, the philosophical basis of Western civilization [91]. Without such an attitude, democratic political life could not be maintained. Salomon argued that by promoting humanism, intellectuals enabled “the statesman to gain from philosophy a spiritual and intellectual power which enables him to suffer the adversities of political and social life with calmness of soul [92]”. This resulted in political moderation, the sine qua non of democracy. As with Lederer, the goal remained defending democracy, not combating anti-Semitism [93].
Gerhard Colm similarly emphasized that exiled social scientists had a “social responsibility” to defend democratic values. Academic work, while objective, retained within it an “element of responsible decision.” Social science must speak to “the task it has to fulfill in a specific historical situation,” which in the 1930s centered upon defending democracy and fighting fascism. Like Salomon, Colm argued that moments of crisis allowed intellectuals to revise traditional assumptions, enabling them to reach greater insights than in the past and prepare the way for a civilized future [94]. In addition to Lederer, Salomon, and Colm, Wunderlich maintained that social scientists must dedicate themselves to preventing fascism’s spread, while Löwe declared that intellectuals must seek, through creativity and rationalism, to “satisfy the social and spiritual demands” that led people to dictators by fostering “a new spirit of conscious cooperation and solidarity” dedicated to social reconstruction [95]. The Jewish New School scholars discussed themselves and their social mission with reference to their intellectual identity and need to defend democracy. There was little to no discussion of Jewish issues.
In these ways the graduate faculty identified with democratic cosmopolitanism while dismissing the role anti-Semitism played not only in modern life but also in their own experiences of exile. What explains this lacuna? The New School scholars’ impulse to ignore their Jewish identity and stress their collective belonging to an intellectual Republic of Letters reflected a defining cultural characteristic of the post-emancipation German-Jewish intelligentsia. Since the nineteenth century, many Jews had rejected their Jewish identity and replaced it with German Bildung [96]. In an attempt to navigate a middle path between Judaism and particularist German nationalism while becoming part of the German cultural community, German Jews seized upon Bildung and membership in the Bildungsbürgertum (educated middle class) as a replacement identity [97].
This embrace led Jewish intellectuals to advocate the primacy of Kultur over race. In the fin-de-siècle, Jewish intellectuals hoped joining the Bildungsbürgetum indicated wider German society’s acceptance of them as Germans. This was especially true amongst left-leaning Jews like those who joined the Graduate Faculty. As several scholars have argued, this (incorrect) belief impelled Jews, during the rise and triumph of National Socialism, to project “their ideals of a tolerant Germany onto a quite different, far more brutal reality [98]”. The Graduate Faculty’s essays reflect this phenomenon. Accepting this perspective entailed willfully ignoring the anti-Semitic undercurrents permeating late-19th and early-20th century German society. Throughout the Wilhelmine era, for example, the terms “cosmopolitan,” citoyen du monde, and Weltbürger developed anti-Semitic overtones [99].Anti-Semites regularly mocked the Jews’ for their cosmopolitan dreams [100]. Nevertheless, the desire to be exiled for what you thought, as opposed to who you were, led many Jewish intellectuals to ignore the realities of racialist National Socialism. As evidenced above, this denial continued during many intellectuals’ first years in exile. Lederer and his colleagues believed that, first and foremost, they were intellectuals, not Jews. The Nazis, however, thought differently.
This belief in universal, cosmopolitan intellectualism was not confined to German Jewish culture. It was also a characteristic of Central European Jewish intellectual culture generally. During the interwar years, throughout Central Europe, particularly in the areas formerly united into the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Jewish intellectuals maintained that each had a “universal intellectual self” that enabled them to belong to a “cosmopolitan scholarly community [101].” As the majority of non-Jews abandoned whatever allegiance they may have had to cosmopolitanism, German-speaking Jewish intellectuals continued to uphold and defend this ideology. In Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the other areas of Central European Jewish settlement, Jews, caught between various ethnonationalistic particularities, declared their membership in an imagined, supranational intellectual community [102]. Like their German counterparts, this led Jews stubbornly to ignore the realities of radical, racialist nationalism. Thus, when non-German Jewish intellectuals came to find safe haven at the University in Exile from the mid-1930s onward, their intellectual identities overlapped with their German antecedents. In sum, the belief in a universal, cosmopolitan intellectual identity led the Jewish members of the Graduate Faculty to downplay their Judaism in their first years of exile. The exiles also, of course, hoped to be accepted by the American academy, and eliding their Judaism contributed to this goal. The émigrés’ ideology and interests thus overlapped with Johnson’s.
Their cosmopolitan dreams and hopes for acceptance led Johnson and the Jewish members of the Graduate Faculty to deny the faculty’s Jewish demographics. Johnson hoped to use the European exiles to reinvigorate American life. The only way to do so was to have the exiles’ scholarship accepted by an anti-Semitic American intellectual community. To foster this acceptance, Johnson ignored the faculty’s Jewish heritage. The Jewish faculty members, for their part, were unwilling to emphasize the role Judaism played in their exile because doing so would have denied the cosmopolitan project that had characterized the German-Jewish intelligentsia since the late-19th century and further contributed to their alienation. They wanted to participate in American intellectual life. This similarity in beliefs enabled the New School to function smoothly throughout the 1930s. There was little disagreement between Johnson and faculty members regarding the goals of the New School or how it should present itself to the outside world. These intellectual congruencies engendered the University in Exile’s acceptance by American academics.
The faculty’s American acceptance was reflected in the very positive reviews their essay collections received in scholarly journals. For example, Merle Fainsod called the New School’s 1937 collection Political and Economic Democracy “suggestive,” “stimulating,” “rewarding,” and, in parts, “brilliant.” Fainsod also referred to the Graduate Faculty only as a “distinguished company of European scholars [103].” The 1939 collection War in Our Time received similarly positive reviews [104]. In the latter case, Nathan Leites referred to the volume’s “high level of analysis [105]”. None of these reviews mentioned the faculty’s Jewish demographics. Although there was some trepidation about the non-empirical focus of some of the essays, in no way was the New School “tainted” as a Jewish institution. These reviews indicate that Johnson and the faculty members successfully disassociated the University in Exile and the German-Jewish scholars that largely comprised it from Judaism.
By 1939, however, the degraded sociopolitical space the Jews occupied in National Socialist Germany had become too obvious to ignore. In 1935, the Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws, which forbade marriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans; made it illegal for Jews to employ German women under the age of 45 as domestic workers; and stripped Jews of German citizenship. In 1938, the Nazis forced Jewish men to adopt the middle name Israel and Jewish women to take the middle name Sarah and forbade Jews from attending German schools. These laws, coupled with the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom, clearly signified not only that the Nazis hated the Jews, but that that they had made Jew hatred an organizing principle of German society.It was too much for even the Jewish members of the Graduate Faculty, who remained committed to a cosmopolitan intellectual identity, to ignore.
For these reasons, in 1939 the first essay in Social Research dedicated to examining anti-Semitism, Erich Kahler’s “Forms and Features of Anti-Judaism,” appeared. Unlike his colleagues, Kahler, a Czechoslovakian Jew, highlighted the specifically anti-Jewish aspects of National Socialism. Broadly, the essay argued that anti-Semitism was a universal feature of history that could be found in all societies in different, yet recurring, forms [106]. In Kahler’s opinion, the modern period of anti-Semitism was unique in that for the first time in history, anti-Judaism was not predicated on religious hatred, but was rather undergirded by patently false “scientific” racial theories. Unlike other faculty members, Kahler placed racial hatred at the center of the National Socialist triumph. He declared that the rise of the Nazis had demonstrated the utter failure of cosmopolitan Jewish attempts at assimilation. Christians had never accepted the Jews, and “[w]hen the time came,” the Nazis made easy “use of popular [anti-Semitic] tendencies which had always lain ready beneath the surface” of Christian society [107]. By arguing this, Kahler implicitly rejected the entire cosmopolitan project of German and German-speaking Central European Jewry. There was no such thing as a Republic of Letters for the Jews to join. In the eyes of their enemies, they would always be first and foremost Jews. The Jewish intellectuals had been naïve to believe that their oppression could ever end.
Kahler emphasized that the Nazi attack on the Jews was not only an attack on Judaism, but also an attack on the cosmopolitan project of liberal democracy itself. He stressed that because “their spiritual law [was] never compatible with an unlimited claim to human power,” the Jews had always “stood for democracy, for social equality and for peace [108]”. The fact that the Jews lived in all countries also made them a potent symbol of cosmopolitan internationalism. For these reasons, Nazi attacks on the Jews were really attacks on the cosmopolitan project and the Nazi victory signaled this project’s death [109].
Kahler’s essay represented a strong blow against the German and Central European cosmopolitan ideal still embraced by the Jewish members of the Graduate Faculty. In painstaking detail, Kahler elucidated how from antiquity to the present Jew hatred was endemic to western society. Anti-Semitism crossed borders and cultures like no other ideology. He implied that it was foolhardy for his colleagues to think differently. Their cosmopolitan project, while admirable, had ended in defeat. Indeed, in the next years Social Research displayed a new sensitivity to Jewish issues. Between 1940 and 1945, the term “Jews” appeared in 45 articles and book reviews; “Jewish” in 40; variations on “anti-Semitism” in 17; “Jew” in 16; “Judaism” in 10; and variations on “anti-Semitic” in 4.
 The death of the European cosmopolitan project led to the emergence of a new focus on Jewish particularism. However, one must recognize that it was American progressive cosmopolitanism that helped save the generation of scholars who found a home at the New School; it was this cosmopolitanism that allowed the University in Exile’s faculty members to examine their Jewish particularism. Although the cosmopolitan project failed in Central Europe, it partially succeeded in America.


In Intellectuals in Exile,Claus-Dieter Krohn convincingly demonstrates that the success of the University in Exile relied extensively upon receiving the necessary funding to support exiled German scholars. In emphasizing the financial structures that undergirded the New School’s becoming the largest institutional home for intellectual exiles, however, Krohn largely ignores how ideological similarities contributed to the Graduate Faculty’s flourishing. This paper illuminates how the cosmopolitan and interest-based congruencies between left wing American progressives and German- and Central European-Jewish intellectuals helped engender the University in Exile’s achievements by allowing the institution to function well and impelling its acceptance by American academics. In demonstrating this, it also explains why in the 1930s Johnson and other faculty members devoted so little attention to Jewish issues.
There still remains much work to be done on the University in Exile’s faculty members’ relationship to Judaism. Questions that remain to be answered include: To what degree was the cultural-intellectual life of the faculty members “Jewish,” that is to say, informed by Jewish cultural traditions? Were Johnson and faculty members speaking in a coded language when referring to the New School’s “German” professoriate? How did de-emphasizing the faculty members’ Judaism affect how Jewish donors like Halle viewed the Graduate Faculty? Did faculty members discuss their Judaism in publications outside of Social Research? If so, how?What, if any, were the New School scholars’ opinions regarding Zionism? How did the faculty members relate to the New York intellectuals, many of whom were Jewish? These and other questions open up fruitful areas of future research.


The author would like to thank Malachi Hacohen, Julie Mell, Jody Bessner, Vanessa Freije, Abby Goldman, Katie Rosenblatt, David Weinfeld, and the anonymous reviewers of Religions for their helpful comments and suggestions.


  1. From 1935 onward, the Graduate Faculty received over 5,000 requests a year for positions. The New School also became a place where academics from other universities could ferry exiles they did not want or could not take. The faculty members themselves were committed to helping fellow and possibly future exiles. For example, Graduate Faculty members donated 3% of their salaries to aiding exiles, particularly young scholars whom the aid committees designed to help persecuted intellectuals often ignored. Robert Jackall, “Book Review: Peter M. Rutkoff and William B. Scott, New School: A History of The New School for Social Research,” Contemporary Sociology Vol. 16, No. 3 (May 1987): 277 and Claus-Dieter Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research, trans. Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993), 16, 76–78.
  2. The entire list of faculty who found a home at the New School in the 1930s and 1940s may be found here: “The University in Exile,” accessed December 31, 2011, . Krohn also produces a list. Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 205–210.
  3. Besides the obvious influence of a luminary like Strauss, the New School was a center of some major intellectual traditions. Due to Wertheimer, the New School was the first center of Gestalt psychology in America; Alfred Schütz helped introduce phenomenology to American philosophy and sociology; Arnold Brecht and Schütz helped develop the comparative study of governments; and the work of New School economists has been recently rediscovered and evaluated. For more on the New School’s influence, the major account remains Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile. See also D. Brett King, Michael Wertheimer, Heidi Keller, and Kevin Crochetiére, “The Legacy of Max Wertheimer and Gestalt Psychology,” Social Research 61, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 907–935; Elisabeth Allgoewer, “Emil Lederer: Business Cycles, Crises, and Growth,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 25, no. 3 (September 2003): 327–348; George Psathas, “Alfred Shutz’s Influence on American Sociologists and Sociology,” Human Studies 27, no. 1 (2004): 1–35; Harald Hagemann, “Dismissal, Expulsion, and Emigration of German-speaking Economists after 1933,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 27, no. 4 (December 2005): 405–420; Gary Mongiovi, “Emigré Economists and American Neoclassical Economics, 1933–1945,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 27, no. 4 (December 2005): 427–437; Gerhard Loewenberg, “The Influence of European Émigré Scholars on Comparative Politics, 1925–1965,” American Political Science Review 100, no. 4 (November 2006): 597–604; George Steinmetz, “Ideas in Exile: Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Failure to Transplant Historical Sociology into the United States,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 23, no. 1 (March 2010): 1–27; and Harald Hagermann, “European Émigrés and the ‘Americanization’ of Economics,” The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 18, no. 5 (2011): 643–671.
  4. Other works on the University in Exile include Monika Plessner, “Die deutsche ‘University in Exile’ in New York und ihr amerikanischer Gründer,” Frankfurter Hefte 19 (March 1964): 181–186; Benita Luckmann, “Eine deutsche Universität im Exil: Die ‘Graduate Faculty’ der New School for Social Research,” in Soziologie in Deutschland und Österreich, 1918–1945: Materialien zur Entwicklung, Emigration, und Wirkungsgeschichte, ed. M. Rainer Lepsius (Opalden: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1981), 427–441; Benita Luckmann, “Exil oder Emigration: Aspekte der Amerikanisierung an der ‘New School for Social Research’ in New York,” Leben im Exil: Probleme der Integration deutscher Flüchtlinge im Ausland, 1933–1945, ed. Wolfgang Frühwald and Wolfgang Schieder (Hamburg: Hoffman und Campe, 1981), 227–234; Peter M. Rutkoff and William B. Scott, New School: A History of the New School for Social Research (New York: The Free Press, 1986); Stanford M. Lyman, “A Haven for Homeless Intellects: The New School and Its Exile Faculties,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 7, no. 3 (Spring 1994): 493–512; Wilfred M. McClay, “Historical Research on the Refugee Intellectuals: Problems and Prospects,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 7, no. 3 (Spring 1994): 513–524; and Claus-Dieter Krohn, “Differenz oder Distanz? Hybriditätsdiskurse deutscher refugee scholars im New York der 1930er Jahre,” in Exil, Entwurzelung, Identität, ed. Claus-Dieter Krohn, Erwin Rothermund, and Lutz Winckler (Munich: Edition Text + Kritik, 2009), 20–39. The intellectual migration has also attracted an enormous amount of scholarly attention. The major general works on the subject include: Laura Fermi, Illustrious Immigrants: The Intellectual Migration from Europe, 1930–1941 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972); Lewis Coser, Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and Their Experiences (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984); Ilja Srubar, ed., Exil, Wissenchaft, Identität: Die Emigration deutscher Sozialwissenschaftler, 1933–1945 (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1988); Ernst Stiefel, Deutsche Juristen im amerikanischen Exil, 1933–1950 (Tübingen: Mohr, 1991); Sven Papcke, Deutsche Soziologie im Exil: Gegenwartsdiagnose und Epochenkritik, 1933–1945 (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 1993); Alfons Söllner, Deutsche Politikwissenschaftler in der Emigration: Ihre Akkulturation und Wirkungsgeschichte, samt einer Bibliographie (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1996); Mitchell G. Ash and Alfons Söllner, eds. Forced Migration and Scientific Change: Émigré German-Speaking Scientists and Scholars after 1933 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Jean-Michel Palmier, Weimar in Exile: The Antifascist Emigration to Europe and America (New York: Verso Press, 2006); David Kettler and Gerhard Lauer, eds. Exile, Science, and Bildung: The Contested Legacies of German Émigré Intellectuals (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Axel Fair-Schulz and Mario Kessler, eds. German Scholars in Exile: New Studies in Intellectual History (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011); and David Kettler, The Liquidation of Exile: Studies in the Intellectual Emigration of the 1930s (New York: Anthem Press, 2011).
  5. The émigrés’ occasionally used the terms “cosmopolitan” and “cosmopolitanism,” which are also widely used in the secondary literature. For these reasons, I use the terms. Also, the division of progressives into “right-leaning” and “left-leaning” is taken from Gary Gerstle, “The Protean Character of American Liberalism,” American Historical Review 99, no. 4 (October 1994): 1051.
  6. Daniel Rodgers examined in great detail the connections between American and European ideas in the progressive era. See Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000).
  7. Professors fired included James McKeen Cattell, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana, and Leon Fraser.
  8. This did not mean that New School scholars would never work for Butler or at Columbia. For example, in the 1930s Johnson worked on Butler’s Commission on Economic Reconstruction at Columbia.
  9. The educational philosophies of Dewey and Veblen, who viewed the primary goals of education as being the creation of “critical and inquisitive minds” dedicated to solving society’s ills through research and a commitment to “democratic cosmopolitanism,” were particularly influential on the New School’s founders. Rutkoff and Scott, New School, 12–18 and Jackall, “Book Review,” 276.
  10. Seligman had studied in Germany under Karl Knies and Gustav Schmoller. Perhaps he helped stir Johnson’s interest in German academia.
  11. Croly offered Johnson the position because he had read and admired his essay “The Soul of Capitalism,” written for the April-June 1914 edition of The Unpopular Review. Dorothy Ross briefly discusses Johnson’s work from this period in her well-known The Origins of American Social Science. In this discussion, however, Ross paints Johnson as a “Roosevelt progressive” and “antisocialist,” ignoring his close connections to Dewey and other left-leaning progressives as well as his recruitment of a number of prominent German socialists. Dorothy Ross, The Origins of American Social Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 408.
  12. Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 61.
  13. Johnson edited the encyclopedia with his former mentor Seligman. Both the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations contributed $1.25 million to the project, which the Social Science Research Council oversaw. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” New School for Social Research Archives, New School for Social Research, New York, New York (hereafter referred to as the NSSRA), Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 3. For more on the encyclopedia, see Rutkoff and Scott, New School, chapter 4. In the end, more German social scientists produced articles for the Encyclopedia than academics from any other country.
  14. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 2.
  15. Alvin Johnson to Agnes deLima, April 13, 1933, Alvin Johnson Papers at Yale. Quoted in Rutkoff and Scott, New School, 274. Also see “Faculty of Exiles is Projected Here,” New York Times, May 13, 1933, 7.
  16. Lederer and Johnson also hoped that Karl Mannheim, the famed founder of the sociology of knowledge and Lederer’s former colleague from the University of Heidelberg, would join the New School faculty. Mannheim declined, instead accepting a position as a lecturer at the London School of Economics. This remained a sour point between Lederer and Mannheim for the rest of their lives (Lederer died in May 1939, Mannheim in January 1947).
  17. Hans Speier, “Emil Lederer, Life and Work,” Hans Speier Papers, German and Jewish Intellectual Émigré Collection, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Speier Papers), Box 7, Folder 2: 27.
  18. Alvin Johnson Papers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Archives and Special Collections, Lincoln, Nebraska (hereafter referred to as the Johnson Papers at Nebraska), Box 47, Folder Graduate Faculty-University in Exile and Rutkoff and Scott (1986), 94.
  19. This did not mean that the University in Exile was, in its first years, on sound financial footing. According to Speier, “almost every month, and certainly at the end of every semester, one did not know whether the [University in Exile] would continue or not.” “Gesprächsweise Mitteilungen zu einer intellektuellen Autobiographie,” Speier Papers, Box 2, Folder 31: 129; Johnson Papers at Nebraska, Box 47, Folder Graduate Faculty-University in Exile; and Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 10. Halle was part owner of the Gulf Oil Company and associated with the Rockefeller Foundation. For more on the Rockefeller Foundation and other philanthropic organizations and anti-Semitism, see Marjorie Lamberti, “The Reception of Refugee Scholars from Nazi Germany in America: Philanthropy and Social Change in Higher Education,” Jewish Social Studies 12, no. 3 (Spring-Summer 2006): 157–192. Interestingly, Lederer and Marschak had, in April and May 1933, asked the foundation to support the immigration of several scholars. Between 1933 and 1945, the Rockefeller Foundation spent $1.4 million helping displaced scholars. For more on the Rockefeller Foundation, see Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 29–38. The philanthropist Doris Duke eventually aided Johnson in his project, contributing $250,000 to the New School. Additional important exile aid committees included the British Academic Assistance Council; the Zurich based Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenchaftler im Ausland; and the United States Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars. There were a number of specifically Jewish aid agencies, including the Joint Distribution Committee, the Hicem, and the Jewish Agency for Palestine, which helped intellectual exiles. Aid committees sometimes paid half of an exiles scholars’ salary. All told, the Emergency Committee gave $800,000 to support 335 scholars; the Rockefeller Foundation gave $1.4 million dollars to aid 303 scholars (which represented half of all U.S. money given to aid exiles; roughly half of this aid, approximately $540,000, went to the New School); the Oberlaender Trust gave $317,000 for 300 scholars; the Carnegie Foundation gave $110,000; the Lucius D. Littauer fund donated $100,000; the New York Foundation offered $23,000; and the Rosenwald family, into which Max Ascoli married, donated $100,000, all to exile causes. Most foundations assisted only scholars who were above 30, so as not to affect young American academics’ job prospects (Oberlaender did not abide by this). Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 28, 72.
  20. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 5 and “Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science (‘The University in Exile’), 1933–1934,” in Graduate Faculty of the New School Catalogues, Fall 1933-Summer 1937, NSSRA. In its first year, the Advisory Committee for the University in Exile included Charles C. Burlingham (a lawyer); Wilbur L. Cross (governor of Connecticut); Dewey (then emeritus professor of philosophy at Columbia); Felix Frankfurter (professor of law at Harvard); Ernest Gruening (director of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions for the U.S. Department of the Interior); Oliver Wendell Holmes (former U.S. Supreme Court Justice); Robert M. Hutchins (president of the University of Chicago); Robert M. MacIver (professor of political science and sociology at Columbia); William A. Neilson (president of Smith College); George A. Plimpton (a publisher); Seligman (then professor emeritus of political economy at Columbia); and Herbert Bayard Swope (a journalist).
  21. The New School was not permanently chartered until January 17, 1941. Until then, all masters and doctoral exams needed to be taken at New York University. “Absolute Charter of the New School for Social Research,” Johnson Papers at Nebraska, Box 47, Folder Graduate Faculty-University in Exile.
  22. Palmier, Weimar in Exile, 468. Krohn has described the American government’s attitude toward refugees as apathetic. It is estimated that 7,500 “academic professionals, doctors, lawyers … as well as students” lost their jobs. If one includes artists, writers, and others who made their living off of cultural pursuits as well as intellectuals, approximately 12,000 individuals lost their jobs. In April 1933, 16% of university faculty were dismissed. By 1938, 39% of all university faculty were fired. In the social sciences, 47% of all faculty were lost. Approximately 60% of dismissed faculty emigrated, with the United States becoming the most popular home for exiles. Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 11–15, 25.
  23. “University in Exile,” Johnson Papers at Nebraska, Box 47, Folder Graduate Faculty-University in Exile and Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 8. Other individuals whom Johnson hoped to bring over included Mannheim, Ascoli, Brecht, Rudolf Littauer, and Werner Hegemann. All except Mannheim would join the New School. In 1934, Johnson added several members to the faculty, including Hans Staudinger, Albert Salomon, Alfred Kähler, Fritz Lehmann, Carl Mayer, and Hans Simons.
  24. Johnson took pains to explain that “[n]o member of the Graduate Faculty is a Marxist as the term is understood in America.” “University in Exile,” Johnson Papers at Nebraska, Box 47, Folder Graduate Faculty-University in Exile.
  25. Arthur J. Vidich, “Book Review: Peter M. Rutkoff and William B. Scott, New School: A History of The New School for Social Research,” Contemporary Sociology 16, no. 3 (May 1987): 275.
  26. As Johnson said, “the German social scientist stands nearer to the political and administrative life of the country [than American academics], participating in expert commissions and in national and city governmental bodies.” Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 3.
  27. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 3. For details on the University in Exile’s founding and funding, see Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, chapter five.
  28. 71. Intellectuals in Exile. Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 71.
  29. Five of the founders were also economists.
  30. In The Jewish Origins of Cultural Pluralism, Daniel Greene traces this idea through Horace Kallen and the Menorah Association at Harvard. See Daniel Greene, The Jewish Origins of Cultural Pluralism: The Menorah Association and American Diversity (Bloomington, ID: Indiana University Press, 2011).
  31. Other prominent members of this organization were Dewey, Kallen, and Albert Einstein.
  32. Aid organizations also recognized that anti-Semitism was a significant barrier to the émigrés finding jobs in America. Even academics sympathetic to the exiles’ plight were wary of recruiting too many Jews. For example, when attempting to create a temporary committee to help European colleagues, Joseph Schumpeter declared that he wanted this committee to aid “as few Jews as possible.” There were also political difficulties involved in aiding exiles, and aid organizations regularly received complaints that the New School scholars were communists dedicated to undermining America. Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 22–24, 35; Alvin Johnson to Clara Mayer, May 17, 1945. Cited in Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 22 and Joseph A. Schumpeter to W.C. Mitchell, April 22, 1933. Cited in Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 23.
  33. Fritz Ringer, The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 1890–1933 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969), 6.
  34. Fritz Ringer, Max Weber: An Intellectual Biography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 9.
  35. Recent scholarship has argued that one must see this embrace of a secular-intellectual culture as representing not a rejection of Judaism, but rather its transformation. That is to say, although Jews did reject elements of their Jewish heritage, they formed a new identity in distinctly Jewish spaces and in accordance with Jewish cultural-intellectual traditions. See, for example, Malachi Haim Hacohen, Karl Popper: The Formative Years, 1902–1945: Politics and Philosophy in Interwar Vienna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), chapter 1 and chapter 7 and Till van Rahden, Jews and Other Germans: Civil Society, Religious Diversity, and Urban Politics in Breslau, 1860–1925, trans. Marcus Brainard (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008).
  36. It is the unfortunate fact that the Graduate Faculty meeting minutes from the years 1933 to 1944 are presently lost. According to Sonia Salas, Associate Director of Administration at the New School for Social Research, when the Graduate Faculty relocated from 65 5th Avenue in 2007 the faculty’s archival material was sent offsite without an inventory. The person in charge of moving the material has since left the New School, and presently New School administrators are unable to pinpoint the material’s location. Hopefully, these files will one day be found.
  37. “Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science (‘The University in Exile’), 1933–1934,” in Graduate Faculty of the New School Catalogues, Fall 1933-Summer 1937, NSSRA.
  38. See reference 37.
  39. See reference 37.
  40. Alvin Johnson, “Foreword,” Social Research 1, no. 1 (February 1934), 1.
  41. See reference 37.
  42. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 1.
  43. See reference 37.
  44. Johnson, “Foreword,” 2.
  45. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 1.
  46. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 2.
  47. Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 8.
  48. See reference 47.
  49. Daniel Tanner, Crusade For Democracy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), 17.
  50. John Dewey, The Later Works of John Dewey, volume 17, 1925–1953 (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008), 147–148, 597–598.
  51. Alvin Johnson, “Eclipse of the Great Man,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 20, no. 4 (July 1961): 424.
  52. There were a variety of responses to immigrants from various world regions. Dewey, for example, believed (Western and Central) European immigrants could contribute more to the American nation than non-European immigrants. This discussion centers on progressive responses to European immigrants. See Thomas D. Fallace, Dewey and the Dilemma of Race: An Intellectual History, 1895–1922 (New York: Teachers College Press, 2010), 127.
  53. John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy (New York: Henry Holt Press, 1920), 202–205. See also Robert B. Westbrook, John Dewey and American Democracy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 212–215 and Fallace, Dilemma of Race, 101, 124.
  54. Rivka Shpak-Lisak, Pluralism and Progressives: Hull House and the New Immigrants, 1890–1919 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 141–142 and Gerstle, “Protean Character,” 1051–1052, 1055.
  55. He repeatedly stressed that America, as an exceptional nation, needed to incorporate—but move beyond—its old and new European roots. Westbrook, American Democracy, 214 and Fallace, Dilemma of Race, 121.
  56. Noah Pickus, True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration and American Civic Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 7 and Douglas Charles Rossinow, Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 41. During the war, Kallen termed this “cultural pluralism.” Sidney Ratner, “Horace M. Kallen and Cultural Pluralism,” Modern Judaism 4, no. 2 (1984): 185–200 and William Toll, “Horace M. Kallen: Pluralism and American Jewish Identity,” American Jewish History 85, no. 1 (March 1997): 57–74. Rossinow stresses that among left-leaning progressives, there was “no consensus on questions of race and ethnicity.” Thus, one should not ignore that amongst these progressives, there were differences in thought. Kallen, for instance, argued that America should become a nation of nations, that is to say, ethnic groups should fully retain their identity, using English as a common, public language. He did not believe they should assimilate into a so-called “melting pot” (a well-known progressive term from the period) that would see European immigrants abandon their cultural heritages and embrace American (i.e., Anglo-Saxon) culture. Dewey, however, believed that America should assimilate European contributions in the service of creating a new, American identity (although he too rejected an embrace of Anglo-Saxondom). This is seen in a letter Dewey wrote Kallen in 1915, responding to Kallen’s 1915 essay “Democracy versus the Melting Pot.” Dewey argued in favor of immigrants “assimilat[ing] to one another—not to Anglosaxondom[.]” John Dewey to Horace Kallen, March 31, 1915, Horace M. Kallen Papers, Box 7, Folder 13, American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH. This rejected the “melting pot metaphor” of complete assimilation which Dewey “never did care for[.]” Thanks to David Weinfeld for sending me a copy of this letter. The citation for Kallen’s piece is Horace M. Kallen, “Democracy versus the Melting-Pot, Parts I and II,” The Nation, February 18 and 25, 1915. Addams’ (and William I. Thomas’) beliefs more closely echoed Dewey’s than Kallen’s. Shpak-Lisak (1989), 25–29. For Kallen’s views, see Horace M. Kallen, Culture and Democracy in the United States: Studies in the Group Psychology of the American Peoples (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1924). For more on Dewey and Addams, see Eric P. Kaufmann, The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 98–100. There is a significant debate about Dewey’s opinions toward immigrants. See Walter Feinberg, “Progressive Education and Social Planning,” Teachers College Record 73, no. 4 (May 1972): 484–505; Clarence J. Karier, “Liberalism and the Quest for Orderly Change,” History of Education Quarterly 12, no. 1 (Spring 1972): 57–80; J. Christopher Eisele, “John Dewey and the Immigrants,” History of Education Quarterly 15, no. 1 (Spring 1975): 67–85; Charles L. Zerby, “John Dewey and the Polish Question: A Response to Revisionist Historians,” 15, no. 1 History of Education Quarterly (Spring 1975): 17–30; and Ronald K. Goodenow, “Racial and Ethnic Tolerance in John Dewey’s Educational and Social Thought: The Depression Years,” Educational Theory 27 (Winter 1977): 48–64. As Westbrook has noted, these debates center on the so-called Polish question, which refers to Dewey’s wartime analyses of Polish immigrants’ politics. Westbrook, American Democracy, 212. A full-length work that presents Dewey as more conservative than traditionally supposed has recently been published. See Fallace, Dilemma of Race. For more on Dewey, see Eisele, “Immigrants” and Pickus, True Faith, 71–75. Also see Jonathan Hanse, The Lost Promise of Patriotism: Debating American Identity, 1890–1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
  57. Gerstle argues that the left-leaning progressives shifted from a cultural to an economic focus in the interwar years because they adopted the perspective that cultural questions were fundamentally irrational and unable to be measured. By contrast, they believed that economic issues, being quantifiable, could be measured and thus changed. This latter belief was undergirded by the new sciences of psychology and psychiatry, which emphasized that ordinary people’s behaviors were subject to irrational emotions. To Dewey and other progressives, cultural politics no longer appeared a useful means to achieve progressive aims. After Hitler’s rise, however, left-leaning progressives returned to cultural questions. In particular, the 1940s saw a boon of left-leaning progressive (now termed liberal) literature discussing long-ignored issues like civil rights, Zionism, and immigration reform. This shift was fostered not only by Nazism, but also by liberals’ analysis of the Soviet Union. Whereas in the 1920s, they viewed collectivist Soviet projects as rational, by the 1940s—in the wake of Stalin’s purges, the starvation of the kulaks, and other Soviet crimes—they considered these projects economic manifestations of (irrational) totalitarianism. Now, culture appeared just as rational as the irrational economy. Gerstle, “Protean Character,” 1057–1059, 1065, 1070–1071. See also David A. Hollinger, “Ethnic Diversity, Cosmopolitanism and the Emergence of the American Liberal Intelligentsia,” American Quarterly 27, no. 2 (May 1975): 133–151.
  58. M. R. M. Fay H. Babbe. See, for example: Norman Hapgood, “Schools, Colleges, and Jews,’ Harper’s Weekly 62, January 22, 1916, 78; Norman Hapgood, “Harvard ‘Talk’ about Jews,’ Literary Digest 73, June 24, 1922, 28; E.S.M., “As for the Jews of Harvard …” Life 80 (2070), July 6, 1922, 15; Victor S. Yarros, Robert M. Lovett, Fay H. Babbe, M. R. M., Joseph Girdansky, Charles Sheres, Donald A. Roberts, and W.L. Whittlesey, “Anti-Semitism and the Colleges,” The Nation 115, no. 2975, 45–46; “‘What Was Your Father’s Name?’” The Nation 115, no. 2987, 323; “Colleges Deny Bias Against Any Sect: Columbia, Brown, Harvard, and Dartmouth Say Jews Are Not Discriminated Against,” The New York Times, April 30, 1926, 11; “Denies Yeshiva Is Protest: G.A. Rogers Says Jewish College Will Not Bar Outsiders,” The New York Times, June 3, 1926, 22; “Dr. Wise Criticizes Greek Fraternities: Urges Jewish Students Not to Deny Their Race—Decries College Quota System,” The New York Times, April 4, 1927, 23; “Jewish University Is Planned Here: First College of Kind Will be Non-Sectarian, Its Organizers Decide,” The New York Times, May 16, 1929, 6; “Sifts Anti-Jewish Bias in Trade and Schools: American Jewish Congress Is Weighing Group Action to Combat Discrimination,” The New York Times, May 22, 1930, 14; “Bias in Colleges Denied: Dr. Rypins Finds Medical Schools Do Not Bar Jews,” The New York Times, December 17, 1934, 39. These systems were of course responses to the fact that Jews were making inroads into American universities and beginning a process of “de-Christianization” of the university system. See David A. Hollinger, Science, Jews, and Secular Culture: Studies in Mid-Twentieth Century American Intellectual History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), chapter 2.
  59. The term “genteel anti-Semitism” seems to have been derived from the 1947 Gregory Peck-starring drama Gentleman’s Agreement. In this film, Peck played a journalist who pretended to be a Jew to expose the anti-Semitism of the protestant community of Darien, Connecticut. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm), and Best Director (Elia Kazan). It was nominated for five other Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Film Editing, and Writing for a Screenplay. Leonard Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 83–84 and Robert A. Rosenbaum, Waking to Danger: Americans and Nazi Germany, 1933–1941 (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2010), 40–42.
  60. In the late-nineteenth century, the Protestant elite coalesced around the idea that educational training needed to reproduce an aristocratic class composed of men who retained a “manly, Christian character.” Jews were naturally excluded from this process. Jerome Karabel, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005), 29, 132.
  61. Michael Greenberg and Seymour Zenchelsky, “Private Bias and Public Responsibility: Anti-Semitism at Rutgers in the 1920s and 1930s,” History of Education Quarterly 33, no. 3 (Autumn 1993): 295–296.
  62. For a discussion of these issues, see Oliver B. Pollak, “Antisemitism, the Harvard Plan, and the Roots of Reverse Discrimination,” Jewish Social Studies 45, no. 2 (Spring 1983): 113–122; Harold S. Wechsler, “The Rationale for Restriction: Ethnicity and College Admission in America, 1910–1980,” American Quarterly 36, no. 5 (Winter 1984): 646, 650–651; and Karabel, The Chosen, 133–134. Wechsler argues that the restriction on Jewish immigration at Columbia indicated the shift from elite secondary schools to elite colleges as the gatekeepers of American aristocracy.
  63. Marcia G. Synott, “The Admission and Assimilation of Minority Students at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1900–1970,” History of Education Quarterly 19, no. 3 (Autumn 1979): 285–304; Marcia G. Synott, The Half-Open Door: Discrimination and Admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1900–1970 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979); Pollak (1983); Wachsler (1984), 650–652; Tamar Buchsbaum, “A Note on Antisemitism in Admissions at Dartmouth,” Jewish Social Studies 49, no. 1 (Winter 1987): 79–80; Greenberg and Zenchelsky (1993), 297; Dan Oren, Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000); Karabel (2005); and Zev Eleff, “‘The Envy of the World and the Pride of the Jews:’ Debating the American Jewish University in the Twenties,” Modern Judaism 31, no. 2 (May 2011): 230. For example, at the May 1918 meeting of the members of the Association of New England Deans, there were fears about the rise of Jewish students at universities. Synott, “Admission and Assimilation,” 288–289.
  64. Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The ‘Objectivity Question’ and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 172–173 and Hollinger (1998), 25.
  65. John Higham, Send These to Me: Jews and Other Immigrants in Urban America (New York: Atheneum Press, 1975), 138–173.
  66. Higham, Send These, 166.
  67. From 1946 to 1947, Johnson, NYSCADE, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Bernard Austin, and Republican State Senator Walter J. Mahoney introduced the Austin-Mahoney Bill to ban quotas (the only other academic to support the Austin-Mahoney bill was president Harold Taylor of Sarah Lawrence College). The Archdiocese of New York opposed the bill by arguing that it gave the state power to make educational decisions, which violated the individual freedom of parents. To protest the Archdiocese’s opposition, NYSCADE organized rallies in New York City’s garment district to collect signatures. In the first week of March 1947, NYSCADE, the AJC, and a group of Jewish war veterans staged sit-ins at Albany’s capitol building to demand the Austin-Mahoney bill’s passage. The bill was nevertheless defeated. However, NYSCADE and the AJC redrafted the bill in such a way that religious schools were exempted from its provisions. This change enabled the bill’s passing in October 1947. Pamela Rice, “A Legislative Attack on Educational Discrimination,” The Journal of Negro Education 23, no. 1 (Winter 1954): 99; Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), 107; and Tod Ottman, “Forging SUNY in New York’s Political Cauldron,” in SUNY at Sixty: The Promise of the State University of New York, eds. John B. Clark, W. Bruce Leslie, and Kenneth P. O’Brien (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, Albany, 2010), 22–25.
  68. The foundation constantly worried that it recruited too many Jews. Indeed, the Rockefeller Foundation was considering funding the University of Frankfurt but believed that too many Jews worked there. Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 22–24, 35.
  69. Throughout the early-1930s faculty members were accused of being, variably, communists or Nazi-sympathizers. The FBI even set up an investigation whereby agents infiltrated the New School by acting as students. Unsurprisingly, no charges were ever filed against faculty members. Krohn, Intellectuals in Exile, 21–24, 72, 160.
  70. Alvin Johnson, “Report to the Trustees of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, February 1935, by Alvin Johnson, Chairman,” NSSRA, Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records, Folders 27–60, Folder 38: 12.
  71. Alvin Johnson, “Report of the Dean of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, September 1939,” Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records Folders 27–60, Folder 38 Graduate Faculty Reports 1935–1951: 3.
  72. Of the American subscribers, there were 18 public libraries; 99 university, college, and school libraries; 170 teachers, professors, and academics; and 236 businesspeople and miscellaneous subscribers. Of the foreign subscribers, there were 4 public libraries; 24 university, college, and school libraries; 34 teachers, professors, and academics; and 52 businessmen and miscellaneous subscribers. “Report of the Dean of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science in the New School for Social Research, September 1936,” Box Graduate Faculty Administration Records Folders 27–60, Folder 38 Graduate Faculty Reports 1935–1951: 6.
  73. This despite the fact that several progressives associated with the New School, including Kallen, Bourne, and Seligman, were sympathetic with the Zionist cause.
  74. Albert Salomon, “Max Weber’s Sociology,” Social Research 2, no. 1 (February 1935): 63.
  75. Arthur Feiler, “Discussion III,” Social Research 4, no. 3 (September 1937): 407.
  76. Frieda Wunderlich, “Education in Nazi Germany,” Social Research 4, no. 3 (September 1937): 348.
  77. Wunderlich, “Education,” 350–351.
  78. Wunderlich, “Education,” 355 and Frieda Wunderlich, “Book Review: Edward Y. Hartshorne, Jr., The German Universities and National Socialism,” Social Research 6, no. 3 (September 1939): 441.
  79. Emil Lederer, “The Search for Truth,” Social Research 4, no. 3 (September 1937): 279.
  80. Lederer, “Search,” 280.
  81. There is also the possibility that Lederer and other faculty members did not want to impel discussions of American racial issues. At the time, American communists placed racial concerns at the top of their agenda. Mentioning race, therefore, may have associated the New School with communism, something that faculty members wanted to avoid.
  82. In addition to this explanation, New School scholars pointed to a variety of factors that contributed to Hitler’s victory. These included Weimar politicians’ ignorance of the centralized nature of their authority (Lederer); the mass panic of the Depression, which opened a space for interest groups, notably East Prussian landowners, to support revolutionary ends (Feiler); the state’s inability to reduce unemployment (Colm and Wunderlich); urbanization (Brandt); the ability of lawmakers to change the law too often (Max Ascoli); an ill-considered constitution (Brecht); the medieval German intellectual legacy (G.A. Borgese); the state’s dominance of society and subsequent rise of a bureaucratic aristocracy (Salomon); the Nazis’ organized militancy (Ascoli); and the political and organizational skills of the Nazis (Hans Simons).
  83. Emil Lederer, “Comment on Keynes, II,” Social Research 3, no. 4 (November 1936): 487.
  84. Emil Lederer, “On Revolutions,” Social Research 3, no. 1 (February 1936): 9–11, 16–17.
  85. Eduard Heimann, “Socialism and Democracy,” Social Research 1, no. 3 (May 1934): n.308 and Eduard Heimann, “I,” Social Research 4, no. 3 (September 1937): 398.
  86. Adolf Löwe, “The Task of Democratic Education: Pre-Hitler Germany and England,” Social Research 4, no. 3 (September 1937): 383–385.
  87. Frieda Wunderlich, “New Aspects of Unemployment in Germany,” Social Research 1, no. 1 (February 1934): 109 and Gerhard Colm, “VI,” Social Research 4, no. 3 (September 1937): 411–412.
  88. Emil Lederer, “Freedom and Science,” Social Research 1, no. 2 (May 1934): 222–223, 227–228.
  89. Lederer, “Search,” 278–281.
  90. Albert Salomon, “Tocqueville, Moralist and Sociologist,” Social Research 2, no. 4 (November 1935): 407.
  91. Albert Salomon, “The Place of Alfred Weber’s Kultursoziologie in Social Thought,” Social Research 3, no. 4 (November 1936): 498–500.
  92. Salomon noted that this was what Greek intellectuals did in the past vis-à-vis the Roman world. Without Greek intellectuals, he maintained, Cicero’s De re publica would have been impossible. Albert Salomon, “II,” Social Research 4, no. 3 (September 1937): 332–334.
  93. The two were, of course, related; in a democracy, anti-Semitism would theoretically not be as salient as it was in a fascist state. This became a central argument of Jewish groups in the 1940s and 1950s. During this period, major American Jewish organizations, including the AJC, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League, argued that combating all forms of discrimination would help mitigate anti-Semitism. See Stuart Svonkin, Jews against Prejudice (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).
  94. Gerhard Colm, “Economics Today,” Social Research 4, no. 2 (May 1937): 194–197, 199–202.
  95. Wunderlich, “Education,” 360 and Löwe, “Task,” 388–391.
  96. This is the influential thesis advocated in George L. Mosse’s German Jews beyond Judaism. According to Mosse, the “classical concept of Bildung largely determined the post-emancipatory Jewish identity.” George L. Mosse, German Jews beyond Judaism (Bloomington, ID: Indiana University Press, 1997), 7. Mosse had implicitly advocated this thesis in earlier work, including George L. Mosse, Germans and Jews: The Right, the Left, and the Search for a ‘Third Force’ in Pre-Nazi Germany (London: Orbach and Chambers, 1970). Although some scholars have questioned aspects of this thesis, “the greater validity” of the notion that for many German-Jews Bildung and the universalist intellectual ideal became a “new Jewish tradition” has been generally accepted. For critiques of aspects of Mosse’s thesis, see Paul Mendes-Flohr, “Book Review: George L. Mosse, German Jews Beyond Judaism,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 5 (1989), 377–379; Steven E. Aschheim, “German Jews beyond Bildung and Liberalism: The Radical Jewish Revival in the Weimar Republic,” in Culture and Catastrophe: German and Jewish Confrontations with National Socialism and Other Crises (New York: New York University Press, 1997), 31–44; and Shulamit Volkov, “The Ambivalence of Bildung: Jews and Other Germans,” in The German-Jewish Dialogue Reconsidered: A Symposium in Honor of George L. Mosse, ed. Klaus L. Berghahn (New York: Peter Lang, 1996), 81–98 (these citations were taken from Aschheim). Works that make use of this thesis include George L. Mosse, “Das deutsch-jüdische Bildungsbürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert,” in Bildungsbürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert, ed. Werner Conze und Jürgen Kocka, (Stuttgart, Klett-Cotta, 1990), 168–180; David Sorkin, The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780–1840 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991); Paul Mendes-Flohr, German Jews: A Dual Identity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999); and Simone Lässig, Jüdische Wege ins Bürgertum: Kulturelles Kapital und sozialer Aufstieg im 19. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck .
  97. Recently, Simone Lässig has argued that German authorities impelled Jews’ acceptance of Bildung. See Lässig, Jüdische Weg.
  98. This was a major point of Mosse, German Jews. Quote from Steven E. Aschheim, “George Mosse at 80: A Critical Laudatio,” Journal of Contemporary History 34, no. 2 (April 1999): 310.
  99. Jeffrey Peck, Mitchell Ash, and Christiane Lemke, “Natives, Strangers, and Foreigners: Constituting Germans by Constructing Others,” in After Unity: Reconfiguring German Identities, ed. Konrad Jarausch (New York: Berghahn Books, 1997), 66 and Leon Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitism, volume 4: Suicidal Europe, 1870–1933 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 143–144. Jewish cosmopolitanism had, of course, come under significant attack from nationalist German scholars. For example, in the third volume of his Deutsche Geschichte im 19. Jahrhundert, Heinrich von Treitschke portrayed Jewish cosmopolitanism as a mask for Jewish hatred of Christianity. Peter Pulzer, Jews and the German State: The Political History of a Minority, 1848–1933 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002), 21. This criticism remained salient amongst academics in interwar Europe as well. For instance, in the late-teens and early 1920s, Max Hildebert Boehm railed against international, cosmopolitan Jewry. See Poliakov, Suicidal Europe, 143–145.
  100. The image of the international, cosmopolitan Jew famously recurred throughout Nazi propaganda.
  101. Malachi Haim Hacohen, “Dilemmas of Cosmopolitanism: Karl Popper, Jewish Identity, and ‘Central European Culture,’” Journal of Modern History 71, no. 1 (March 1999): 105–106.
  102. As Malachi Hacohen has argued, Jews, as the “losers of ethnopolitics,” were forced to adopt such beliefs. Hacohen, “Dilemmas,” 107.
  103. Merle Fainsod, “Book Review: Political and Economic Democracy. Edited by Max Ascoli and Fritz Lehmann,” American Political Science Review 31, no. 4 (August 1937): 729–731.
  104. For positive reviews and citations, see Ray F. Harvey, “Book Review: War in Our Time. Edited by Hans Speier and Alfred Kähler,” Public Opinion Quarterly 3, no. 3 (July 1939); Harold J. Tobin, “Book Review: War in Our Time. Edited by Hans Speier and Alfred Kähler,” American Political Science Review 33, no.4 (August 1939); Robert Gale Woolbert, “Recent Books on International Relations,” Foreign Affairs 17, no. 4 (July 1939); Boris Erich Nelson, “Book Review: War in Our Time. Edited by Hans Speier and Alfred Kähler,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 207 (January 1940); Quincy Wright, “Rights and Duties under International Law: As Affected by the United States Neutrality Act and the Resolutions of Panama,” American Journal of International Law 34, no. 2 (April 1940); Quincy Wright, “International Law and Commercial Relations,” Proceedings of the American Society of International Law at Its Annual Meeting 35 (April 24–26, 1941); and William O. Shanahan, “The Literature on War: Part II,” The Review of Politics 4, no. 3 (July 1942). An outlier is W.G. Weaver, “Book Review. War in Our Time. Edited by Hans Speier and Alfred Kähler,” American Sociological Review 4, no. 5 (October 1939).
  105. Nathan C. Leites, “Book Review: War in Our Time. Edited by Hans Speier and Alfred Kähler,” American Journal of Sociology 46, no. 2 (September 1940).
  106. Erich Kahler, “Forms and Features of Anti-Judaism,” Social Research 6, no. 4 (November 1939): 455.
  107. Kahler, “Forms and Features,” 479.
  108. Kahler, “Forms and Features,” 480.
  109. Kahler, “Forms and Features,” 482. In addition to Kahler, in 1939 Feiler published a book review where he acknowledged Jews’ centrality to the National Socialist imagination. He declared that the Nazis represented an “enormous danger” to the Jews, rightly predicting that if Eastern European governments followed the racist National Socialist lead then the future of the entire Jewish people was at stake. Feiler also disagreed with the assumption of Sir John Hope Simpson, the author of the report he reviewed, that the Jewish problem was primarily an economic one that land reforms, industrialization, and market expansion could solve. Instead, Feiler attributed Jew hatred not to any economic base, but to “the non-economic, super-economic, irrational causes of Europe’s self-destruction and decay.” By 1939, then, members of the Graduate Faculty argued that the Jews played a special historical role in the National Socialist imagination. Arthur Feiler, “Book Review: Sir John Hope Simpson, Refugees, a Preliminary Report of a Survey,” Social Research 6, no. 1 (February 1939): 117.

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Bessner, D. “Rather More than One-Third Had No Jewish Blood”: American Progressivism and German-Jewish Cosmopolitanism at the New School for Social Research, 1933–1939. Religions 2012, 3, 99-129.

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Bessner D. “Rather More than One-Third Had No Jewish Blood”: American Progressivism and German-Jewish Cosmopolitanism at the New School for Social Research, 1933–1939. Religions. 2012; 3(1):99-129.

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Bessner, Daniel. 2012. "“Rather More than One-Third Had No Jewish Blood”: American Progressivism and German-Jewish Cosmopolitanism at the New School for Social Research, 1933–1939" Religions 3, no. 1: 99-129.

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