Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars

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The Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, (1933–1941), assisted scholars who were barred from teaching, persecuted and threatened with imprisonment by the Nazis. The Institute of International Education appointed Edward R. Murrow to lead the effort. In the first two years of the Committee's existence, Murrow received requests for help from educators and researchers across Europe. The program expanded to include Austria, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy. Over 300 scholars were rescued, some of whom became Nobel Laureates in diverse fields such as literature, medicine, and Physics. As well as many whose work and ideas helped shape the post-war world.[1]

In 1932, at age 24 and well before he began his broadcast career, Murrow was hired as Assistant Director by IIE's founder and Director, Stephen P. Duggan. Murrow's main assignment at IIE was to identify European scholars who were at risk in their home countries and arrange for them to lecture and teach at U.S. colleges and universities. It was first called the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars, and later expanded to help other “Displaced Foreign Scholars” fleeing Nazi repression throughout Europe. Hundreds of European scholars were successfully relocated to America, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Foundation, and generous hosting by American campuses. Murrow worked with the Emergency Committee until early 1937, overlapping the first year of his long career at CBS News. Murrow would go on to serve as a member of IIE’s Board of Trustees until his death in 1965.[2]

The Emergency Committee would prove to be the early forerunner of IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund, which was established in 2002.

Notable Scholars[edit]

Fritz Reiche (1883–1969) was a German theoretical physicist. He completed his higher education at the University of Berlin under Max Planck (1858–1947); his subsequent work at the University of Breslau was with Otto Lummer (1860–1925); he returned to Berlin in 1911, where he completed his Habilitation thesis in 1913, married Bertha Ochs the following year, became a friend of Albert Einstein (1879–1955), and worked during and immediately after the Great War. In 1921 he was appointed as Ordentlicher Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Breslau and worked there until he was dismissed in 1933. He spent the academic year 1934–1935 as a visiting professor at the German University in Prague and then returned to Berlin, where he remained until, with the crucial help of his friend Rudolf Ladenburg (1882–1952) and vital assistance of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, he along with his wife Bertha, and their daughter Eve were able to emigrate to the United States in 1941 (their son Hans had already emigrated to England in 1939). From 1941-1946 he held appointments at the New School for Social Research in New York, the City College of New York, and Union College in Schenectady, New York, and then was appointed as an Adjunct Professor of Physics at New York University, where his contract was renewed year-by-year until his retirement in 1958.


Murrow’s work with the Institute of International Education played a key role in the plot of the film Good Night, and Good Luck, produced, directed and written by George Clooney.


  1. ^ [ The Rescue of Science and Learning: The Story of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948)]
  2. ^ The Life and Work of Edward R. Murrow: Tufts University

External links[edit]