The problems of Indiana University immediately following World War II were very great, perhaps as challenging as any set of problems faced by the university in a similar period of time. We had an overwhelming increase in the number of students year after year. It was very difficult to construct housing fast enough to accommodate them. Much of the structure of the university had been fractured by the absence of many key members of the faculty and staff on war assignments. The Indiana General Assembly, the governor, and the entire state felt as we did at the university that the task of providing for the education of returning veterans whose education had been interrupted by service in the war was a matter of high priority. It was later to be our proud boast that we had accommodated all veterans who were qualified and who sought to enroll.
But those were strenuous days—days that put enormous pressure upon the staff, the faculty, the administration, and the Board of Trustees. In view of these problems, some members of the board had lingering doubts about the wisdom of having granted me leave of absence for the Greek mission. Too, my enthusiasm about my Greek experience may have caused apprehension among them that I might find work of that type sufficiently attractive to entice me away from the university permanently. Whatever the cause, the board suggested that I not accept any long-term commitments away from the campus thereafter unless they were connected in some way with education. This informal policy I respected and until my retirement breached only once, namely, when I accepted appointment as a member of our delegation to the Twelfth General Assembly of the United Nations. That particular post, however, was one of such prestige and indirect importance to the university, and matters on campus were sufficiently in hand, that the board fully approved my acceptance of the invitation.
But, to return to the period of immediate postwar problems in its midst I was approached by a representative of the United States Military Government in Germany with the request that I head the new Education and Cultural Affairs Branch of the Occupation. Some serious organizational and staff problems had developed within the military government’s education branch, and it was felt that improvement of the situation required an outside person. When I made this request known to the trustees, they were not favorably disposed and for good reason. Neither were the governor and some members of the legislature. However, with their approval I accepted General Lucius Clay’s invitation to visit Germany briefly for the purpose of meeting the personnel, seeing the organization, and getting some sense of the problems to be solved and what might be done about them. At the conclusion of my visit I made some recommendations to Clay that he countered with a question: would I consider becoming his personal adviser on educational and cultural affairs? As such I would have responsibility for advising not only on the entire German educational system within the American sector but also on associated cultural activities. General Clay was not to get an answer on my availability for more than two months and then only after extensive debate and editorializing in the state followed by telegrams from Clay to Governor Ralph Gates and to the president of the Indiana University Board of Trustees, Judge Ora Wildermuth (see Appendix [E]).
On October 17, the Board of Trustees having arranged for an administrative committee composed of John Hastings1 as chairman and deans Herman Briscoe and Wendell Wright and Joseph Franklin to discharge the duties and responsibilities of the presidency, I was granted leave for six months with the concurrence of Governor Gates. I joined Clay a month later. My stay in Germany, from November 21, 1947, to May 27, 1948, was punctuated by two necessary visits home and other absences on behalf of my mission. From the very beginning I had made it clear to General Clay that my stay in Germany could only be temporary and short-term because I felt I could not be away from the university for a long period. This he had accepted since he wished primarily to accomplish an administrative reorganization of the division and to have me recruit someone of competence who could undertake the task for an extended period of time.
I was able to persuade Peter Fraenkel to join me as my assistant. Peter was of German background, had a degree with honors from Indiana University, and was at the time in Harvard’s graduate school studying for his master’s degree. I could not have made a better choice. As he, too, was a bachelor, it was an easy matter for us to maintain a common living and working arrangement in Berlin. He early proved himself to be very perceptive about political and educational matters and was invaluable to me from his arrival in mid-January onward. In fact, he stayed on for some months after my departure to close the office and, upon his return, as I mentioned in chapter 18, became my assistant in the president’s office, where he served in a highly effective manner for about fifteen years. He next had a long career in international activities with the Ford Foundation before becoming assistant to the current president of Indiana University, John Ryan.
When I arrived in Berlin in the late fall of 1947, the city was still in ruins. I was told by persons who had been present three years earlier, at the time the German forces surrendered, that every aspect of the German society had completely collapsed2. There was no responsible government—national, state, or local. The men who participated stated that, as the U.S. Army took one town after another, it had to organize fire departments, police departments, and even the collection of garbage. Industry was at a standstill, agriculture was disorganized, and trade and commerce were nonexistent. Schools were closed and children roamed the streets. Looters robbed bombed-out homes and stores. The people were sullen, disappointed, dispirited. Germany was truly a beaten nation.
All the important cities were from 50 to 75 percent destroyed. I often traveled through streets in which the rubble on both sides was piled higher than my car. Blackened, broken concrete and twisted steel were ghostly reminders of war’s toll on government buildings, hospitals, museums, factories, and apartment houses. On the streets one could observe bitter-faced people dragging behind them small carts loaded with stumps of trees dug up in the woods for fuel, women standing in long lines to buy a small piece of meat or the first pair of shoes in eight years, and teenagers, who wore madeover Army uniforms, selling American chocolate and cigarettes on the black market. Although there was less physical destruction in the rural areas, they had not escaped the effect of war; as in the urban centers, the shortages were acute and the disintegration of social institutions was complete.
Despite the war-wrought destruction and the loss of millions of lives, Germany had 10 percent more inhabitants when I arrived than in 1939. The population of the United States zone had increased 18 percent in the same period. Millions of refugees from the territory east of the Oder Neisse River and now under Polish administration and further millions of German expellees from Germany’s eastern neighbors were crowded into the farm houses and into the towns and villages of the west. Of course, the mere fact that these villages had not been leveled served to attract the influx. The once symmetrical age-sex structure of the German population, as well as the religious and social composition of German society, was upset by the destruction of male youth in the war and by the huge influx of the newcomers who added to the confusion, friction, and unrest. German society had been shaken to the core and a tremendous readjustment had to be made. This readjustment, of course, had to be made under the severe economic handicaps resulting from the dismantling of German industry, production, and trade.
My title was that of cultural affairs adviser to the military governor, one of four advisers who constituted an informal cabinet that reported directly to Clay in the Berlin headquarters. This was a staff position. In addition, I was acting director of the Education and Cultural Relations Division of the Office of Military Governor for Germany (U.S.), or OMGUS. This was a line, operating position. Because the civilian advisers were given the simulated rank of two star generals, they had considerable authority in carrying out their work. OMGUS had charge of the American zone throughout Germany, but the American sector in Berlin had a status similar to that of the länder, or “states,” in the field and was under its own director, Colonel Frank L. Howley. Those of us in general headquarters shared responsibility for the whole of the American zone in Germany. Our office was located in one of the buildings of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Dahlem, and Peter and I were assigned a comfortable four-story, twenty-four-room house in the suburbs at 24 Am Kleinen Wannsee. It had been the home of a former German movie magnate and was a typical upper-class German home: spacious, comfortably and completely furnished, and graced with a delightful formal garden. There was a good staff to operate the whole, including a splendid executive housekeeper, Helene Schuster, of whom we became very fond. She served to make our stay in Berlin agreeable.
I moved immediately to learn from the existing staff all that I could about the problems that needed to be solved. The principal figure in the education section was Thomas Alexander, a recognized authority on German education, on leave from Teachers College of Columbia University. He had moved from the position of deputy director of the Education and Religious Affairs Branch to that of acting director when John Taylor, the previous director, had left to become president of the University of Louisville. For many years Dr. Alexander had taken his graduate students in comparative education to Germany for study and was acquainted with the personalities in German education as well as with its structure and its strengths and weaknesses. He was a brilliant man from whom we learned a great deal, but he was not especially gifted as an administrator and his view of the Germans was troublesome. Not only was he dogmatic, he could sometimes be vindictive as well. He believed, as did a sizable group in the United States, that we should follow a very hard line in attempting to restructure the German educational system, since he felt that the structure that had existed had been responsible in no small part for the fact that the Germans had been the aggressor in two successive world wars. Our official policy, however, was a little less rigid, and my own point of view was that the Germans had to be responsible for their own reforms and that the best we could do was to aid the reform by suggestion and persuasion rather than by order and decree. We believed that this was the only way to achieve a lasting reform, and we certainly had no desire to impose the American system on the Germans, an attempt that would have been self-defeating. Although Alexander was not generally in accord with this point of view, he welcomed us heartily, cooperated with us, and was a tower of strength to us in all of our work. I had great admiration for him and the friendship we formed there lasted as long as he lived.
We likewise moved promptly to acquaint ourselves with the headquarters staff, with the staff in our various länder in the American zone by visiting them in the field, and also with our opposite numbers in the French, British, and Russian zones. Many policy decisions were supposed to be made on a quadripartite basis, and a great deal of time and energy of the headquarters staff had to be devoted to preparation for quadripartite meetings and to the effort to reconcile the points of view of the various occupying powers. The meetings went on endlessly, for the Russians were especially difficult. They of course had an entirely different educational philosophy from ours and also a different attitude toward the Germans. Had they had their way, the entire educational system would have been restructured along Russian lines, and all subject matter content revised to conform to the current Communist-Marxist point of view. As a result, in nearly all matters, it was necessary for us to move in our zone independently of the Russians. There were some differences with the English and French, but they were minor by comparison.
A further complication in our work was the absence of agreement on the part of our own U.S. personnel within and without the Education Division as to policy, timing, and procedure. Reflecting the conflict of opinions among the educational and political leaders at home, the OMGUS personnel were split between a desire to keep Germany weak and a feeling that a rebuilt Germany would furnish the Western world a bulwark against communism. The education staffers were, in some cases, traditionalists and, in others, Dewey progressivists.
In our field visits we soon discovered that we had many dedicated men and women of high competence and superb background, although there were a few spots in which we found weak personnel whom we had to transfer, and we did so as rapidly as we could. We tried also to gather from our field staff as well as from the headquarters staff their views of what revisions should be made in American policy and what actions needed to be taken by OMGUS headquarters in Berlin. It was then our task to carry these recommendations to the proper source at the general headquarters, which from time to time meant carrying them to General Clay himself.
We had not been in Germany long before we realized that there was a communications problem between the military men and the education specialists. They did not understand each other’s language. One of my duties, therefore was to interpret to the general, in a manner comprehensible to him and his staff, the substantive concerns and tensions within my division.
I early learned to have great respect and admiration for General Clay. He was a brilliant man and a superb executive with a sound vision of our responsibilities and our tasks as an occupying power in Germany. He was a man of courage and determination and well able to hold his own when challenged by the other powers on major issues, as he dramatically illustrated later by his defiance of the Russians at the time of the Berlin blockade. He had great concern for achieving results in the fields of education and cultural affairs and demonstrated his concern by giving me excellent cooperation during my entire tour of duty. Clay had recruited me principally to help bring order out of considerable chaos in the cultural affairs branch, and therefore my assignment was essentially organizational and administrative. It can be briefly stated in terms of its four parts.
My first assignment was to assemble cultural activities in a single division and to arrange to have them administered under a unified policy in contrast to the somewhat divergent policies that had been followed in some divisions previously. Thus the Education and Cultural Relations Division was created. Elementary, secondary, university, and adult education; religious affairs; youth activities; women’s affairs; theaters; music; the coordination of cultural exchanges; and the allocation of textbooks and materials—all were brought under the management of a single unit of the military government. Provision was made to include in this unit also, but at some later date, the indirect media of education such as publication, press, and radio.
The second responsibility was to attempt to create an agency in the United States to serve as a cultural liaison between the American people and the new Education and Cultural Relations Division in Germany. This agency was to feature a number of technical advisory panels corresponding to the main cultural activities of the military government in Germany. An earlier visiting committee had recommended formation of the panels, which was accomplished a few months after my return to the United States.
The third task called for us to try to stimulate appropriate military-government divisions to enter reorientation work. It was felt that nearly all branches of the military government could make some contribution to the work of reorientation if a harmonious policy could be established and that they could be encouraged to assist in the work of educational reorientation.
My fourth and most important task was to recruit top-level personnel for the key positions in the new Education and Cultural Relations Division in Germany and in the stateside organization, when and if it could be created. The major objective was the recruitment of some educator to take my place because, as I have mentioned, my assignment was understood to be of limited duration. One of the reasons Clay had sought me for this job was that he felt I would be able to attract the kind of person he wanted to take the position for a more or less indefinite period of time. How I went about this and with what success I describe later in this account.
I shall not dwell here on the substantive problems and their solutions, for they are set out in greater detail in the speech I made immediately upon my return.3 However, to understand the nature of our task, a picture of the German situation when OMGUS began its operation is necessary.
The task of occupation is not an easy one in any situation, I suppose, and it certainly was not easy in ours because we were attempting to reconstruct, encourage, and reorient the whole of the educational and, to some extent, the cultural life of Germany along democratic lines. The days were filled with staff meetings, visits with members of the staff, visits to the field, visits with German educators, officials, and churchmen, and endless discussions with our experts on what to do next. I attempted to absorb as much as I could about German life, its philosophies, its organization, and its potential. Every waking moment was spent in study or in discussion with informed individuals. In time I began to feel that I had some grasp, although fragmentary at best, of the German scene. A few incidents and anecdotes that remain in my memory may add to the information contained in the formal speech, which is a part of the record.
Because of our interest and their importance, we attempted to maintain as close contact as possible with leading German scholars and with rectors of the principal universities. In mid-May the University of Frankfurt held a major convocation to celebrate the centenary of the 1848 revolution. The university invited Robert Hutchins, then president of the University of Chicago and a leading critic of American education, to come as the speaker for the occasion. Because Hutchins was a traditionalist in education, arguing for the classical curriculum with great rhetorical license, his selection was a strategem on the part of the conservative professors who opposed our efforts toward reorientation and democratization in German education. General Clay was invited to attend the convocation, but he declined and delegated me to represent the military government and to serve as host for Hutchins, who was to be in Germany for a few days.
I went to Frankfurt and Bob Hutchins and I had a delightful visit at the Castle Kronberg, where he was staying. I remember at this particular time he was not very well and was under some personal stress. Nevertheless, he made a brilliant speech at the convocation, and the university put on an impressive show. It was the first major academic festival following the conclusion of hostilities, and all the German universities were represented, their rectors in their magnificent robes and others in beautiful academic costumes. The whole affair was brought off with great pomp and circumstance. Bob’s speech that day, although it gave some aid and comfort to the conservative element, did no serious harm to our efforts.4
Another incident is especially clear in my memory. It was our custom to hold open house at our home in Wannsee on Sunday afternoons and evenings for students, scholars, German intellectuals, and other interesting personalities. On one such afternoon a number of German students from the Technical University of Berlin, located in the Russian sector of the city, came with some young newspaper friends to state that they were being stifled in their studies by the Russians’ insisting on a Marxist orientation for all scholarship and on censorship of class materials. Their plea was for the Americans to sponsor the establishment of a free university of Berlin, free in the sense that students might have the freedom to study that a true university accords. The discussion went on for some time, and the students, very earnest and persuasive themselves, were supported by Kendall Foss, a young American newspaperman who accompanied them. I finally agreed to take the idea to General Clay. I had no sense of how he would react, but I thought the proposal deserved a hearing.
One could get in to see Clay easily on Sunday mornings, when typically he was in his office by eight, refreshed, without pressure because few people were willing to get up that early on Sunday, and ready to listen. Taking advantage of that circumstance, I presented the proposal for a free university of Berlin to him and, I think perhaps to my surprise, his reaction after considerable questioning was positive. In fact, it was so positive that it startled me. He said, “It’s a fine idea and I think we should accept it and act at once.” He added that we should plan to have the university open by the next fall. That took my breath away. I explained that starting a university is a complicated business, that we had to have a faculty, a library, laboratories, and so on. I was sure that we would have plenty of eager students, but I was not sure that we could accommodate them in such a short time. He brushed aside all my doubts, said it could be done, and asked me to put the machinery into motion. When I reminded him of the need for space in a city that was practically devastated, he suggested that we commandeer part of the space at headquarters, where the buildings had originally been devoted to education and research since they were all buildings of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. I gingerly mentioned the fact that each building had in it, very comfortably situated, top-level military personnel who would not be much impressed by my suggestion that they vacate on behalf of a university. He replied that when we needed the building he would order the place vacated. It was from this initiative that the Free University of Berlin sprang. I did not stay long enough to do more than start the machinery to establish it, but the university opened the following fall after I had returned to Bloomington. It started with almost two thousand students and became a powerful influence for freedom and democracy in German higher education for a number of years.
On one occasion it was necessary for me to go to Paris to see Julian Huxley, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). We felt it desirable to have UNESCO’S understanding of what we were attempting to do in Germany and to secure its cooperation if possible. I had a satisfactory visit with Huxley about our problems and received his pledge of cooperation, but first he wanted to ask me about some of the friends he had made on several visits to Bloomington. His first question was, had I heard from the Tracy Sonneborns recently? Then he inquired concerning the Herman Mullers, and after two or three other inquiries he asked, “Well, how is Kinsey?” I said, “Quite well, I think.” He paused for a moment, reached into his desk and pulled out a recent issue of the New Yorker that had in it the now famous cartoon of a character inquiring of his wife, “My dear, is there a Mrs. Kinsey?” Huxley showed me the cartoon with a chuckle and after another pause said, “Well, is there a Mrs. Kinsey?” I assured him that there was, that she was a wonderful lady, the mother of three fine children, and that the Kinseys enjoyed a happy married life.
Another incident that I remember quite well involved Clay’s readiness to make decisions and to back our work. Our staff became increasingly convinced that it was time to begin a major exchange of students and scholars between Germany and the United States. A mission headed by George Zook, president of the American Council on Education, had surveyed the educational activities of OMGUS during the month of August, 1946, and had made many recommendations, one of which had called for the beginning of a wide-scale exchange program and for enlisting the support of the private sector in the United States for such a program. As a result of this recommendation and no doubt also because of the keen interest of Henry Kellermann, then in the State Department with responsibility for formulating government policies relative to education and cultural affairs in the Occupation, the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee on March 31, 1947, issued a directive announcing the decision of the United States Government to “permit and encourage the revival of visits of Germans to the United States . . . and of persons from the United States to Germany.” 5
Even though such exchanges had become an official policy of the United States, there were many operating problems on the German side as well as very limited funds, since the government had not included in the Occupation budget any allocation for this purpose. In fact, in all of 1947 there were only eighty-one persons traveling on government funds, and most of these were specialists going to Germany or German leaders going to other countries. Although no students or trainees traveled on government funds, there were perhaps fifty German students attending a variety of American universities under private auspices. It was against this background that I undertook to express to Clay the belief of our staff that the time had come for widespread introduction of German-American exchanges of student scholars, which would of course require appropriation of funds to finance the movement of the Germans to the United States and of the Americans to Germany. I took this idea to Clay early one Sunday morning and found him quite interested in it, but skeptical of its practicality. In fact, he said he believed it was too soon to begin such exchanges; in his opinion American collegiate student bodies, which included a high proportion of veterans, would be antagonistic to the reception of Germans and unpleasant incidents would probably occur. I stood stoutly for our position and finally he said, “If you believe it’s not too early and you can get Congress to insert the necessary funds in the appropriation bill for OMGUS, I will support it.”
Accordingly, I made a trip to Washington and, with the help of friends in the American Council on Education (ACE), was able to get a modest appropriation put into our budget that enabled us to begin the movement of German students and scholars to American campuses the following September.6 I am convinced that the successful launching of a widespread exchange program this early in the Occupation was due in large part to the vision and sensitive and astute leadership of Henry Kellermann. There was a rapid increase in the number of exchanges sponsored by the U.S. government, from the 81 in 1947 that I have mentioned to 354 in 1948, of which 232 were Germans going to the United States, 214 of them German exchange students. Clay’s fears were not well founded. In fact, the Germans were welcomed wherever they appeared, and the process of German-American scholarly exchanges, which had been a very important part of the American university scene prior to World War II, was resumed and has continued at an increasing volume ever since. When the Federal Republic of Germany did me the honor of conferring upon me the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit in 1960, that recognition came in part, I am convinced, because of this initiative. Objective observers believe that the German-American exchange program helped to achieve the cordial relationship that has existed between Germany and the United States in the postwar era. It also was the prototype for the postwar expansion of foreign scholarly exchange as an instrument of American foreign policy. Many of Germany’s present political, financial, and academic leaders are alumni of the program.
My other important assignments for that Washington trip were to recruit personnel for our organization in Germany and also to attempt to find the right man to direct the newly reorganized division. We had many vacancies throughout the organization. I addressed a general session of the American Association of School Administrators in Atlantic City, where there were more than ten thousand in attendance, and made a plea for cooperation in our work, explaining to them something of the opportunities and requirements of service in the Occupation. Lieutenant Colonel Irwin of the Civil Affairs Division in Washington accompanied me, and following the speech we were flooded with questions, applications, and requests for interviews during the remaining days of the convention. My speech was reported widely in the United States and thus stimulated many other inquiries. As a result we were able to find people for our vacant positions. The most important task, how ever, was to find a director of the new Division of Education and Cultural Relations. In pursuit of the proper person, I made contact by letter, personal interview, and long-distance telephone with nearly one hundred persons who I thought had special competence to nominate candidates and to evaluate their qualifications. In this way I accumulated a prospect list of about fifty men. In the course of the recruiting endeavor, a few men were suggested over and over again, principal among these being Alonzo Grace from Connecticut. He paid us a visit in the spring and we were able to recruit him for the position, which he occupied very capably for some two or three years.
My trip to Washington had still other objectives. One was to get some clarification of budgetary matters dealing with the Education and Religious Affairs Branch and the Information Control Division in the reorientation section of the OMGUS budget. I also carried with me proposals to the Rockefeller Foundation requesting funds for certain cultural reorientation projects that had been developed by our staff in Germany. Furthermore, I attempted to initiate a stateside organization of private agencies for the promotion and support of cultural exchange with Germany. George Zook, who had headed the mission previously referred to, at our request called a conference on education in the American zone in Germany to which were invited representatives of the leading associations in education. The conference was held in the National Education Association Building in Washington on February 19, 1948. Out of that meeting grew the Advisory Committee on Cultural and Educational Relations that was formally created in the fall of 1948 under the auspices of the ACE and financed by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. It later was renamed the Commission on Occupied Areas, and I was from the beginning its chairman; Harold Snyder, a member of the ACE staff, became its executive director. The commission continued for some years under my chairmanship, enabling me to maintain contact with the activities in Germany and perhaps be of help from this side.
I had an unpleasant brush with the Russian military. On one Sunday afternoon, Peter Fraenkel and I had driven into the Russian sector of Berlin to deliver a CARE package to Peter’s childhood nurse. Before he and his father had emigrated to South America, Peter had been cared for after the early death of his mother by an old German nurse, whose present welfare concerned him. Berlin, as is well known, was divided into four sectors—American, English, French, and Russian—but, by a four-power treaty, all sectors were open to personnel of all four powers. Enroute home about four in the afternoon from delivering our CARE package, we saw a brightly lit shop in the otherwise dark Potsdamer Platz near the boundary of the American zone. I asked our driver, PFC Wade Ferris, to take us over to see what was going on. Later we learned that it was a fence run by Russian soldiers for antiques taken from German houses. All innocent, Peter asked a Russian soldier nearby if the store was open. The soldier shook his head and, as Peter returned to the car, detained us with an order to halt, reinforced by a gun. We asked repeatedly why we were being held—as we sat in the car, while we were guarded in a building to which we were led, and after we had been taken to headquarters by a young Russian captain. The soldier accused us of driving round and round Potsdamer Platz taking pictures in a manner unfriendly to the Soviet Union. Though it was evident that the charge against us was fabricated because we had no camera, it was two hours before we were released into the custody of an American Military Police captain. We were never in real danger, I suppose, but the detention was discomfiting and unpleasant.
The next morning I went in to report the incident to Clay, who had already learned of it from Intelligence sources. There had been several baseless arrests of American personnel, which were thought to be a method of trying to harass us and to soften us up for the blockade that our intelligence told us the Russians would try to impose. Clay told me that the American newspapers were making much of my arrest because of my rank, and it was being interpreted as a deliberate signal that something was about to happen. He asked me for my assessment of the incident and I replied that I felt it was a green Russian G.I. who had seen an American military car come into Potsdamer Platz and had thought “This is the enemy,” hence he should do something about it, and he had stopped us. Clay agreed with my analysis, noting that a regiment of green Russian troops had just arrived in Berlin, many of them from Asiatic Russia, who had never seen a big city before and who hardly knew what to do. He said, “We will have Howley protest vigorously and see what happens”—Colonel Frank L. Howley being the American director of OMGUS for the Berlin sector. Howley did make a strong protest concerning our arrest to his opposite number in the Russian sector of Berlin, who called upon Howley in about two weeks to make a formal apology. The American newspapers barely mentioned the apology, but actually it was more significant than the arrest. Although I was not the only staff member of the American military government ever arrested up to that time, the subsequent apology from the Russians was certainly a rarity.
Another interesting incident involved a number of leading German industrialists who came to lunch at my house one day with Walter Hallstein, rector of the University of Frankfurt and a distinguished economist, supportive of the American Occupation. Hallstein had been a prisoner of war in the United States in Texas and had grown to have a great admiration for Americans because of the treatment he received there. He later was to become the first president of the Commission of the European Economic Community and played a very important role in postwar German and European recovery. At this luncheon, the conversation turned to the dismantling of German industry then in full sway. I remarked that I regretted the fact that our policy might cripple recovery and the future welfare of the German economy. Their response was surprising to me. They smiled and said, in essence, “We are not truly disturbed by this move although we have been protesting loudly. Actually what is happening will be of great benefit to us for the future. You are dismantling our obsolete and worn-out machinery and plants and sending them to our principal competitors in Europe—the Belgians, the French, the Dutch, and the English. As soon as that has been completed you will undoubtedly furnish us capital with which to rebuild our plants, and we will rebuild them incorporating the latest technological advances and consequently have plants of far greater efficiency than those with which we will have to compete. So we will be able to compete as never before.” I have thought of that conversation many times since. Nothing could have been more prophetic or accurate. Germany has been able to compete as never before in international trade, in no small part because her factories were all rebuilt along the most modern and efficient lines.
It would be inaccurate to leave the impression that my life in Berlin was too full of serious matters to allow enjoyment of my stay. In my letters home, along with the weather I always mentioned the sights—particularly of flowering trees and blooms—and the sounds. On December 21, I wrote, “During my walk this afternoon, I saw scores of children out coasting with their homemade sleds. Their shouts of joy seemed to fill the air.” A few days afterward I entertained some Berlin children in my home and wrote to my parents about it:
Now I will tell you more about our Christmas party held the day before Christmas. We gathered the children up in the car and brought them to the house. They ranged in age from five to eleven—about half boys and half girls. Before dinner, they looked at magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Life with keen interest because all German children are eager to see the pictures in our magazines. They were extremely well behaved and of course filled with expectancy. We had a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings: soup, turkey, dressing, vegetables, cranberry sauce, fruit cake, and ice cream. There was also all of the milk that the children could drink. Since the food nearly all came out of army cans, it didn’t compare in quality with the dinner I know you had at Aunt Rosie’s (she sent me the menu), but it tasted good to the children. They ate and ate. They took small bites to make it go farther, and, until they realized that they could have more than one glass of milk, they sipped it very carefully. The little five-year-old didn’t want to eat his turkey. He didn’t know what meat was and consequently wasn’t sure that it should be eaten.
After dinner, the tree was lighted with real candles and the children were led into the room. The room (in the front parlor) had been closed before dinner and so they saw the tree in all of its glory and surrounded by many gaily wrapped packages. The boys got shoes, the girls dresses and beads, and then all of them received toys, books, packages of cookies, apples, oranges, candy, and nuts. They really had fun. One lad halfway through the opening of his presents said, “My, but I was lucky to get to come.” They were so appreciative that I am afraid that I was a little mistyeyed when they told me goodbye. Smitty, my G.I. driver, had located the children and helped organize the party, get the consent of the mothers, etc. He had dinner with me and the children. The maid, the cook, and the gardener also helped generously and joined in the fun around the tree.
Many competent men had been recruited by Clay to help with the complex job of occupation and of helping the Germans to begin the process of restoration and recovery. George McKibbin, a successful Chicago lawyer, who as a young man had been assistant to the president of the University of Chicago, his alma mater, became a close friend. He was Clay’s adviser on governmental administration but was always interested in the work of the education division. Robert Murphy, then in mid-career, was the top diplomatic officer in the occupation as political adviser with the rank of ambassador. He was a born diplomat, keen, courteous, and very likable. Later he was to cap his distinguished public career in the post of under secretary of state for political affairs under President Eisenhower. A brilliant young political scientist by the name of Edward Litchfield was in charge of the Civil Administration Division. He became dean of the Cornell School of Business and Public Administration, and finally chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. (We were to travel to Russia together shortly after he assumed the Pittsburgh post.) I also met for the first time Ruth Woodsmall, a member of a prominent Indianapolis family and an alumna of Indiana University. She was head of the women’s affairs section in the Office of Public Affairs. For many years she had been general secretary of the World’s YWCA C ouncil in Geneva and as a byproduct of her travels and investigations had written the definitive book on the status of Moslem women.
There were many other outstanding men and women on the staff, and interaction with several of them has continued from that time to this. Here, too, I first met Landrum Bolling, who was covering the Occupation as a newspaperman. I was subsequently on the board of Earlham College and of the Lilly Endowment, which Bolling headed in succession. Young Frank Banta, now a valuable member of the German department at Indiana University, was in the Education and Cultural Relations Division of OMGUSas acting chief of the Cultural Exchange Branch. Two other Indiana colleagues were with us at that time, Robert Ittner of the German department, who had served for a time as my assistant in the president’s office, and A. E. Zucker, then from the University of Maryland but formerly chairman of our German department.
My service in the Occupation was a mindstretching and stimulating experience as well as a very strenuous one—strenuous because of the very nature of the work, strenuous because of my initial unfamiliarity with many of the problems, and strenuous also because of the constant necessity of maintaining some contact with the affairs at Indiana University. Moreover, in addition to the work in Berlin it was necessary for me to come to the United States twice for congressional contacts and to transact other business in connection with the Occupation. I had to return for personal reasons, too. My father became ill during the middle of the year and declined very rapidly. I was called home to be with him and stayed as long as I could but felt I had to return to Germany. Within a week or so after I was back in Berlin, he died tragically and I returned to the United States once more. This, of course, was the most difficult feature of the year. I adored my father and I had a sense of guilt that I had not been able to be with him when he may have needed me most. I had some feeling that, had I been with him, his death could have been avoided. It is difficult even now to accept that event philosophically. My father, mother, and I were a very close-knit family and I felt guilty also about being unable to help Mother during that difficult period. But I had to go back to Germany right away. By late May the principal tasks that we had been assigned were accomplished, and I returned in time for the June Commencement at Indiana University and the opening of summer school.
General Clay had requested that my leave be extended for another six months but, with the G.I. surge onto our campus and the attendant problems of accommodating the influx, my responsibility clearly called me back to the university. It was nevertheless a source of regret that I did not have a longer time to assist with new and emerging problems, but I was gratified that we had had some success in accomplishing my original assignment. General Clay wrote of that effort:
I am grateful for your letter of 24 July and even more grateful to you for having put our Cultural and Educational program on a sound basis. I can already see the returns.
I am not going to fill the post of Cultural Affairs Adviser for the moment while I watch how Mr. Grace works out. I may call on you for recommendations later though. I do want to count on you for help there and in a consulting capacity here if the need arises.
I know your work here can bring you little returns except in your own satisfaction in having contributed to a great American experiment. That contribution was of high order and, even more important, of lasting effect.
If I can ever be of service, it would be a pleasure to have you call on me to give me at least the opportunity to show in small measure my sincere appreciation.
1. Judge Hastings, chairman of the Board of Trustees, possessed a remarkable understanding of the university, a facility in working with people, rare wisdom and common sense, and a gentle sense of humor. Had he chosen to go into education instead of law, he would have made a masterful university president. He later resigned from the Board of Trustees when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
2. The substance of the following observations on Germany at the time, somewhat modified here, was presented in a speech to the Indiana Library Association on October 28, 1948, in Indianapolis.
3. “The United States and the German Problem,” Convocation Address, Indiana University, June 23, 1948.
4. The wife of one of our senior advisers in headquarters was also present on that occasion. She had once been an editor of Vogue and a designer. She asked me whether the robe I wore as president of Indiana University was as gorgeous as the one worn by the rector of the University of Frankfurt, who was addressed as “Your Magnificence.” When I replied that our robes were very sedate and plain, she began drawing on her imagination to design a robe for me. As I recall it, she would have had the robe crimson, decorated with a liberal amount of white ermine and with corn stalks and hogs rampant embroidered in gold thread on either side of the robe’s front. Obviously in her mind Indiana was strictly an agricultural state. It would have been great fun to have had her design executed and to have worn the robe on some occasion. But I am indulging in fantasy.
5. SWNCC 269/8, which in turn cited the MacLeish Committees’ Long-Range Policy Statement on German Reeducation incorporated in SWNCC 269/ 5 (August 21, 1946). See Henry J. Kellermann, Cultural Relations—Instrument of Foreign Policy, U.S.—German Exchange, 1945–54 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 1978), p. 20.
6. Clay wrote on my report of the trip to Washington: “Dr. Wells: A lot done in a short time. Thanks again. Please follow Washington developments closely and let me know if you receive any ‘flack.’”