Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars

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The Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars (1933–1945)[1] assisted scholars who were barred from teaching, persecuted and threatened with imprisonment by the Nazis. The program began in Germany soon after Hitler took power and expanded to include Austria, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy. Over 300 scholars were assisted, some of whom became Nobel Laureates in diverse fields such as literature, medicine, and physics. The work and ideas of many of the scholars assisted by the Emergency Committee helped shape the post-war world.[2]

The committee was first called the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars, and later expanded to help other “Displaced Foreign Scholars” fleeing Nazi aggression throughout Europe. One of the early leaders of the effort was Alvin Saunders Johnson, co-founder and first director of The New School.[3] Hundreds of European scholars were successfully relocated to America, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Foundation, and generous hosting by American campuses. Johnson brought a significant number of the scholars to The New School, founding the "University in Exile" which became the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science.[4]

In 1932, at age 24 and well before he began his broadcast career, the Institute of International Education appointed Edward R. Murrow to the position of Assistant Director by its founder and Director, Stephen P. Duggan. Late in 1933, Murrow also became (without pay) the Assistant Secretary of the Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars.[5] In the first two years of the Committee's existence, Murrow received requests for help from educators and researchers across Europe. His main assignment was to identify those at risk in their home countries and arrange for them to lecture and teach at U.S. colleges and universities. 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.[6]

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

Notable Scholars[edit]


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. ^ http://archives.nypl.org/mss/922 Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library
  2. ^ Stephen Duggan and Betty Drury, The Rescue of Science and Learning: The Story of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948)
  3. ^ Peter Rutkoff and William B. Scott, New School: A History of The New School for Social Research (New York: Free Press, 1986)
  4. ^ The University in Exile and the Garden of Eden: Alvin Johnson and his rescue efforts for European Jews and Intellectuals
  5. ^ Murrow at the IIE, 1932-35
  6. ^ The Life and Work of Edward R. Murrow: Tufts University

External links[edit]