The Chargé in Germany (Gordon) to the Secretary of State

No. 2354

Sir: I have the honor to report that a law has been passed by the Cabinet governing the Studentenschaften, or student corporations, a translation of which is being transmitted to the Department by the Consulate General.94 The Studentenschaften are statutory institutions with certain legal functions which gives them a voice in the administration of the university. Their status is without parallel in Anglo-Saxon countries. According to the new law, membership in these bodies is open only to German-speaking and non-Jewish students.

Imbued with the spirit of the national revolution, the Studentenschaften in Prussia, which are completely under Nazi control, are developing an activity which has led to conditions in the universities that may be described as chaotic. Parallel with the purging of the universities of all professors of Jewish extraction or Left political leanings, on the basis of the Civil Service Law of April 7, 1933 (see despatch No. 2309 of April 19, 193395), the Studentenschaften have been demanding and obtaining the dismissal of other professors objectionable to them. They have also resorted to excesses which have led to conflicts with the faculty.

At the Kiel University, the Studentenschaft demanded the immediate dismissal of no fewer than 28 professors, some of whom enjoy international reputation, threatening to take most drastic action to enforce its demand.

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At the University in Berlin, a tense conflict has developed between the Studentenschaft and Rector Kohlrausch because the latter demanded the removal of a manifesto containing “12 points against the non-German spirit” posted by the students on the university bulletin board. The 12 points were also posted on municipal advertisement kiosks in Berlin and attracted considerable attention because of their ridiculous demands. Dr. Kohlrausch objected in particular to two of the “points” as indicating contempt for fellow-beings whom, he said, one may combat but should not defame. One of the two objectionable points, Point 5, stated: “When the Jew writes German he lies.” Point 7 stated: “Jewish works must be published in Hebrew; if they be published in German, they must be described as translations.”

The mentality of the Nazi students was further exemplified by a retort to the Rector, which referred disdainfully to his criticism and declared in substance: The German students honor the few teachers at Germany’s universities who teach in the spirit in which the students live and act, that is, the spirit of the storm detachments. They alone have the right to criticize because they have the confidence of the students.

Several professors have publicly protested against the new spirit which now pervades the universities. Professor Spranger, who stands close to the Nationalists, voluntarily resigned from the faculty of the Berlin University, giving his reasons in a letter to the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the few journals in Germany which is still permitted to express views not always favorable to the Government. Professor Spranger said that he was worried because the student organizations, which had recently been given important rights and privileges, were beginning to assume an attitude which reminded one strangely of Metternich’s attitude towards professors and students. As an avowed believer in the principle of leadership, he was alarmed to see that neither the Rector of the Berlin University nor the Prussian Minister of Education was able to remove a manifesto from the University bulletin board which, “despite its good intentions,” contained a couple of sentences that must offend even the “most national” reader. In conjunction with reports of happenings in other universities, he felt that he could not grasp the spirit of the new generation.

The new academic spirit in Germany was further reflected by the seizure in university and State libraries of works of Jewish authors and authors with Left political leanings. These works are to be publicly burned by the students, with appropriate ceremonies.

On April 26 [25], the Reich Cabinet passed a new school law against the overcrowding and over-alienization of the German schools and universities. In addition to a restriction on Jews, the law institutes a general numerus clausus, without any race or confessional angle, in all [Page 316] secondary schools and universities, to keep down the number of graduates in accordance with the actual requirements in the various professions.

The law restricts the proportion of Jews in secondary schools and universities to 1.5 per cent of the total number of pupils. This figure is only for new admissions. Of the pupils and students already attending high schools and universities, a number corresponding to 5 per cent of the total may be allowed to remain. The law applies only to high schools and universities; the primary schools, in which attendance is obligatory, do not come under its provisions.

The restrictions with respect to Jews contain more liberal provisions than the civil service law. The percentage of admissions is higher. Moreover, pupils and students one of whose parents is Aryan do not come under the Jewish quota, whereas the civil service law defines as Jews persons one of whose grandparents was a Jew.

A translation of the law is being transmitted to the Department by despatch No. 2351 of May 2, 1933.96

The Hochschule für Politik in Berlin has been transferred from the jurisdiction of the Prussian Minister of Education to the Reich Minister of Propaganda, and transformed into a State institution. Professor Jäckh, the President of the Hochschule, as well as the curatorium headed by Dr. Simons, former President of the Supreme Court at Leipzig, have resigned.

Respectfully yours,

George A. Gordon
  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.