View Full Version : Germans Studying in US: Pre-WWII

09-17-2012, 06:48 PM
I'm seeking a plausible small detail. I have a German soldier in WWII who speaks English because his family intended him to study some field in the US, where he would get a better education in whatever it was that he would in Germany.

That means the field of study would have been dominated by US academic institutions in the mid-1930s and be suitable for a young man from a prosperous family which could afford to send him off for studies.

I'm at a loss for researching this online. Since it's quite a small detail, I'm hoping someone here just happens to know an area of study in which the US was absolutely cutting edge, leading the world in the Thirties.

Maryn, sweating the small stuff

09-17-2012, 07:06 PM
It would not have been that unusual for a reasonably well off family to send their children to the University of Cincinnati then. Germany was in chaos. Cincinnati was still conducting city meetings in German at the time. It would be a nice flavor of home with ample oppurtunity to pick up American dialogue and accent.

09-17-2012, 07:07 PM
Petroleum engineering?

Elaine Margarett
09-17-2012, 07:18 PM
My grandfather worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey (maybe Patterson?) during that time. He received his engineering degree from Rutgers and it was considered the place in the country to be for electrical engineering. Albert Einstien(sp) was somehow involved but I'm fuzzy on my history.

Anyhoo, that was THE place during that timeframe for highly skilled and inovated engineering. Certainly it would attract the best minds from all over, including Germany.

In fact, wasn't there a scandal involving a member of the atomic bomb team (of which my grandfather was also a member of) who gave info to Russia?

I'd google it and see what you can come up with from that time. Google is awsome!

09-17-2012, 10:47 PM
Einstein went to Princeton in the 30s, I think, so maybe physics? Or astronomy with Hubble? Or medecine/biomedical research at the Rockefeller Institute in New York. But those would all be advanced study.

Would it have to be a particular subject? Things were sufficiently unsettled in Germany during the 30s that the kids parents may just have wanted him out of the country.

09-17-2012, 11:07 PM
German Jews, and Germans of Jewish descent from the mid-1930s on came to the U.S. because it was not safe to be a Jew and study at German universities.

Dave Hardy
09-17-2012, 11:15 PM
I'm not sure Germany took academic second place on much, at any time.

But, you might be interested in Putzi Hanfstaengel, a close confidant of Hitler and a leading Nazi. He was born in Bavaria and attended Harvard in the 1900s, I think he had family connections in the US. He went back to Germany after WWI and met Hitler in Munich. He polished Hitler's manners, provided money for Nazi activities, & sheltered him after the Beer Hall Putsch. He wrote fight songs for the Nazis replacing Harvard! with Sieg Heil!

Hanfstaengel eventually lost Hitler's favor. He tried, perhaps to hard, to build a favorable image of Nazi Germany in the US. There was a high-profile visit to Harvard and some intrigues with Martha Dodd (US Ambassador Dodd's daughter). After a prank where Goering told him he was going to parachite behind Red lines in Spain to be a spy for Franco, Putzi went to England.

He was arrested at the start of WWII, but appealed to his college chum FDR and was put to writing reports on Nazism for the president. I understand Hanfstaengl's son joined the US Army during the war (as did Hitler's Irish nephew from Liverpool). After the war he returned to Germany.