Well Worth Sav­ing: Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ties’ Life-and-Death Deci­sions on Refugees from Nazi Europe

Lau­rel Leff

  • From the Publisher
January 13, 2020

A har­row­ing account of the pro­found­ly con­se­quen­tial deci­sions Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties made about refugee schol­ars from Nazi-dom­i­nat­ed Europe

The Unit­ed States’ role in sav­ing Europe’s intel­lec­tu­al elite from the Nazis is often told as a tale of tri­umph, which in many ways it was. Amer­i­ca wel­comed Albert Ein­stein and Enri­co Fer­mi, Han­nah Arendt and Her­bert Mar­cuse, Rudolf Car­nap and Richard Courant, among hun­dreds of oth­er physi­cists, philoso­phers, math­e­mati­cians, his­to­ri­ans, chemists, and lin­guists who trans­formed the Amer­i­can acad­e­my. Yet for every schol­ar who sur­vived and thrived, many, many more did not.
To be hired by an Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ty, a refugee schol­ar had to be world-class and well con­nect­ed, not too old and not too young, not too right and not too left, and, most impor­tant, not too Jew­ish. Those who were unable to flee were left to face the hor­rors of the Holo­caust. In this rig­or­ous­ly researched book, Lau­rel Leff res­cues from obscu­ri­ty schol­ars who were deemed not worth sav­ing” and tells the riv­et­ing, full sto­ry of the hir­ing deci­sions uni­ver­si­ties made dur­ing the Nazi era.

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