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U.S. Major Charges ‘putzy’ Laughed at Wife’s Torture

June 17, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

While two unwieldy mobs stood glowering their hate at each other under the eyes of a wary army of police and special guards, the Europa neared New York harbor Saturday, prepared to _pew forth Dr. Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanf-staengl—”Putzy” to you and to Harvard.

Last-minute attacks against admission of Hitler’s lullaby man to this country were launched on many fronts. There was little possibility that any of them would be heeded in official quarters.

Burning indictment of the Harvard Crimson for its editorial a few days ago suggesting the award of an honorary degree to the Harvard alumnus of the class of 1909 was contained in a letter to the undergraduate daily from Major Frank Pease, World War veteran and anti-Communist.

Less than a year ago, Pease charges, his wife suffered gross indignities at the hands of Hanfstaengl while in Berlin. He tells a harrowing story of her experiences during her trip to Germany.


A paragraph in his letter declares Hanfstaengl stood by and laughed when Mrs. Pease appeared at the Amerika Institut in Berlin “in protest against having been brutally beaten, kicked, threatened, frightened nearly to death, and was black and blue from head to foot at that very moment.”

“She had been dragged from her hotel in her nightgown,” the letter continues, “flung into a stone, ice-cold cell, her shoulder blade thrown out of joint, held in the cell for twenty-eight hours incomunicado, ‘Bertillioned,’ beaten, sneered at, threatened with sexual assault, witnessed the beating to death of some poor Jew before her cell door, lost her voice through fright, . . . flung head first into a filthy bath tub in which the outlet was plugged up with . . . broken teeth and the hair of previous victims, and on top of it all caught pleurisy, from which she nearly died in Brussels, and was flat on her back for two months and is still badly injured from it all.

“Hanfstaengl Laughed at all that!”


Mrs. Pease, her husband’s letter explains, is a Radcliffe graduate in the class of 1909, the same year in which Hanfstaengl received his degree from Harvard.

She is a first cousin of Harvard’s former president, Dr. Abbott Lawrence Lowell, a Mayflower descendant and a Daughter of the American Revolution, Major Pease says.

Here is his explanation of the more than a day of horror she suffered at the hands of Nazi torturers:

Another demonstration was planned by the 15,000 students who struck here against war on April 13. The joint committee of the Student League for Industrial Democracy and the National Student League, organizations responsible for the April strike, have called on the students to gather at the pier in protest against “Putzy’s” visit to this country.

“There is no place at Harvard for Hanfstaengl,” the committee statement deciares in part.

“To tolerate Hanfstaengl is to tolerate the barbarism he represents.”

“The above outrage was perpetrated by the Brown Shirts for the purpose of attempting to frighten and squeeze out of my wife valuable securities she was supposed by them to have with her—a plain attempt at robbery, such as is wholly characteristic of the Nazi party.”


Major Pease’s attack on Hanfstaengl was augumented by those of many other organizations and individuals.

The National Committee to Aid Victims of German Fascism announced that groups numbering more than 1,500,000 members and affiliates were joining in protest against admission of the Hitler aide.

Among these it listed the International Workers Order, the Finnish Workers Federation, the International Labor Defense, the Trade Union Unity League, the Unemployed Councils and the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners.


In every case, the announcement stated, telegrams were being sent to Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins and President James B. Conant of Harvard.

It repeated charges that Hanfstaengl, ostensibly coming here for the sole purpose of attending the twenty-fifth anniversary reunion of his Harvard class, is actually bent on promoting the Nazi cause in the United States.

Among the demonstrating groups scheduled to gather at Pier 86, West Forty-sixth street, where the Europa was to dock Saturday, was one organized by the Anti-Nazi Federation of New York, which also sent telegrams of protest to President Roosevelt and Dr. Conant.

Representative Samuel Dickstein denied a report printed in Thursday’s New York World-Telegram to the effect that Hanfstaengl will be subpenaed by the Congressional committee investigating Nazi propaganda in the United States. The State Department in Washington also contradicted a story carried in the same newspaper, which declared “Putzy” will be asked to testify in the Black Tom explosion disaster of 1916.


“In the eyes of the committee Hanfstaengl has done nothing,” Dickstein declared. “So long as he attends to his own business the committee has no concern over him.”

From Cambridge, Mass., came reports ridiculing the Harvard Crimson’s suggestion that “Putzy” be awarded an honorary degree by his alma mater. Jerome Greene, New York banker, said Hanfstaengl is “a person not to be taken seriously either as a statesman or as a buffoon.”

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