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October 25, 1933

Introduced by President MacCracken as a “specialist in democracy,” Dr. Friedrich Schoenemann lectured in Sknner Hall on “The New Democracy in Hitler’s Germany.” On a tour of American campuses, the professor from the University of Berlin compared Hitler’s putsch to the American Revolution, proclaimed Hitler fundamentally “a democrat” and—although he claimed that they were the leaders of world communism—denied any persecution of German Jews. Speaking to students after his lecture, Schoenemann urged them, according to The Miscellany News, to keep an open mind about Hitler and the Nazis, explaining, for example “the German meaning of the word ‘propaganda’—not a deliberate distortion of the truth for the purpose of duping the people, but a means to mass education and solidarity.”

More than 100 people were turned away from Schoenemann’s lecture, and The Vassar Quarterly reported “The campus is reverberating with discussion of Hitler and the Nazis.” On November 3, the émigré military historian Dr. Alfred Vagts, formerly of the University of Hamburg, speaking in the Students Building on “Germany Under Hitler,” found it “strange that a philologist [Schoenemann] should confuse the terms democrat and demogogue.”

Friedrich Schoenemann lectured at Vassar on the German youth movement in November 1929.

The Miscellany News

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