Refugee Scholars Enjoy Luxury of Free Speech in U.S.
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Refugee Scholars Enjoy Luxury of Free Speech in U.S.

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Two noted German scientists, driven from their homes by Hitler’s persetion of the Jews, sat in an office at Carnegie Institute of Technology and told of their determination to become American citizens and of their appreciation of America’s gift of freedom.

“You cannot possibly know the relief of being able to sit and talk to one’s friends without being constantly in fear,” declared Prof. Otto Stern, who resigned his post at the University of Hamburg when his assistant, Dr. I. Estermann, was dismissed by the Nazis. “In Germany, it is impossible to talk freely; you must watch to see if you are overheard, you must make sure the windows are closed, that you are not even observed.”

Stern and Estermann, who have spent their recent scientific lives in atomic and molecular research, were persuaded to join the faculty of Carnegie Tech by Dr. Thomas S. Baker, president of the university, upon his “mystery voyage” to Europe last summer. Dr. Estermann, who has shared in some of the most important recent discoveries concerning the movement of atoms, was simply ousted from his position after the Nazis seized power. Prof. Stern, refusing to accept the Nazis’ “concession,” which permitted him to retain his post because of his war record, quit in protest at the persecution he saw all around him.

A reliable index to conditions in Germany even today was given when both men declined to speculate upon the possibility that Hitler’s course will provoke another war.

“Such speculation is too dangerous,” Dr. Stern declared. “It would react against relatives and friends.”

Both agreed, however, that the apparently pointless course of the Nazis has crippled Germany’s scientific leadership. The Hitler party, they said, seems not to care about the fate of science, it is unconcerned about increasing the limits of man’s knowledge, except of course, where the investigations being carried on have a military value.

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