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From our archives: Welcome to scholars who fled fascism

What we thought: 75 years ago

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
(University of Connecticut)
The Axis partnership of Benito Mussolini (left), leader of Italy from 1922 to 1943, and Adolf Hitler, dictator of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, sparked World War II (1939-1945). Editorials in the Gazette on April 30, 1938, commented on their ominous fascist policies.

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following editorial appeared in the Gazette on April 30, 1938.

New citizens

and good ones

The United States has a new citizen in Chicago. He is Prof. G.A. Borgese, lecturer on Italian literature at the University of Chicago, who taught at the University of Milan until his refusal to take the Fascist oath made it necessary for him to leave Italy.

His remarks in the federal court which made him a citizen should move every American. Thanking this country for its gift of friendship and freedom, he said:

“The United States has an optimistic creed about the destiny of mankind. It believes in man as a progressive being. The eighteenth century liberalism which was expressed in the Revolutionary war has been matured and continuously developed.

“Europe has a pessimistic and deadly philosophy as to the rights of man. Fascism teaches that man is born to fight; that this is a world of wickedness and opportunism. My philosophy is that of the United States, and so it is natural that I should seek citizenship at the first opportunity.

“I do so with real joy and with no longings or regret. When I left Italy, I did so with the realization that I must discard my old life entirely. This country has given me the remarkable privilege of creating a new life. It is a gift for which I shall always feel gratitude.”

Prof. Borgese is by no means the only foreign scholar to take this step. The first nine members of the “University of Exile,” as the graduate faculty at the New York School for Social Research in New York is commonly called, will receive their final papers within a short time.

Thus does the United States keep alive one of its most meaningful traditions, and in an era closely akin to that of 1848, when we made our shores a refuge to exiled and fleeing Europeans.

Sell the bad books

Four Princeton undergraduates have sent Adolf Hitler a cablegram asking him to donate to the college the “non-Aryan” books, which, it is said, the Reichsfuehrer plans to “purge” from the Austrian National Library in Vienna.

The Princeton men know better than to think Hitler will accede to their suggestion. He’ll give nothing away unless it’s Nazi propaganda.

There’s a possibility, however, that the dictator may be willing to sell the banned books. The Communists sold czarist treasures; why shouldn’t the Nazis sell books which they have banned?

The only drawback is that Hitler, who is desperate for money, may take to banning harmless and valueless works. A good deal of censorship nowadays is a put-up job, paid for in advance to advertise a new book. If Hitler enters the racket, it’s going to make the authorities of Boston, Mass., mighty angry. Who’ll want to read a book banned in Boston when Germany is exporting volumes marked “Verboten”?

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