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Reich Consul Advised Tampa U. to Curb Jews Dies Body Told; Offered Nazi Books

August 22, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The German Consul at New Orleans attempted to influence the University of Tampa (Fla.) to engage an “adequate” German professor and to establish restrictions on Jews. Dr. John Harvey Sherman president of the University, told the Dies Committee today.

The Consul. Baron Edgar Freiherr Spiegel von und zu Peckelsheim, sought to exercise pressure on the university by tying conditions to a proffer of books to the institution’s library. Dr. Sherman testified adding that the consul had said the practice of offering books was followed in other colleges to encourage the study of German.

Asked by Committee Counsel Rhea Whitley whether the Baron had referred to Jews during their conversation Dr. Sherman replied:

“The Baron told me he thought the fact that we had no restriction on Jews at our college and that we had Jews on our board of trustees and on the faculty was a mistake and that eventually we would regret it.”

The university president said a stranger named Ernest Berger called him on the telephone saying he had a friend who could be induced to give books to the library. An appointment was made for March 16 1938 but before then Berger telephoned to say that his friend the German consul could not keep the appointment because of business.

“This was the first I knew of who the donor was and it started me thinking” said Dr. Sherman who is a former World War aviator. When the Baron arrived Dr. Sherman asked if he was giving the books and the consul replied: “Not I but my Government ” The books offered were in German and about the “new Germany.”

Dr. Sherman said he talked over the Baron’s activities with President Rufus Harris of Tulane University at a meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges in Memphis last March. Mr. Harris was aroused over the consul’s activities at Tulane, saying he “snuggled up to members of his faculty effectively” according to Dr. Sherman.

Chairman Martin Dies asked if Dr. Sherman regarded the offer of books “as an effort to propagandize for the Nazis.” The witness replied: “Yes.”

Before the committee adjourned for the day Mr. Dies said he expected the Justice Department to file charges soon against the German American Bund for failure to register with the State Department as foreign agents. He said he hoped the issue could be tried in the Federal courts so that if the leaders were guilty they would go to the penitentiary

Mr. Dies said he would also ask State Governments to revoke the charters of un-American organizations.

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