In Response to: Speak Freely!

Whenever I hear about how important the role of professors at universities and college is in the defense of free speech and tolerance I am forced to reflect on the following unhappy fact: Before the rise of Hitler in Germany, from the late 19th century to the post WWI period, those calling for ultra nationalist policies, aggressive imperialism, and for anti-semitism in German life were most conspicuous on university campuses. No group was more reactionary and aggressively bigoted than the German higher teaching corps and its students. This is of course most distressing for academics and others who think well of the university and believe it should be at the forefront of what is best in society. That this was not true in Germany before 1933, a country with perhaps the best universities in all fields in the whole entire world, is something to wonder about. Neither businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats, even Junker aristocrats, not to mention ordinary workers and farmer were as proto-Nazi as the professoriat and the medical profession and their students. Something not only to think about but to worry about.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.