Anti-Semitism at Stanford

Letters to the Editor: What Stanford’s anti-Jewish bias looked like on campus in the 1950s

Stanford University’s board of trustees and administration have long had a pro-Israel track record, but anti-Semitism has been on the rise at Stanford since the 1930s. During the 1930s, the anti-Semitic movement on campus was far smaller in size and impact due to a lack of exposure and education. The war between the pro- and anti-war sides brought a resurgence of anti-Semitism, and the Stanford administration was once again caught red-handed.

As the war was nearing its end, as many as 300 students demanded that they all be thrown out of campus for their pro-Soviet Union and pro-Hitler affiliations. The administration took a number of actions to avoid having to expel them, including moving them to other buildings on campus, or in some cases, to other countries.

In November 1942, on the same anniversary as the German attack on Pearl Harbor, the entire Jewish student body was removed from campus to an undisclosed location. All but four had been arrested in the fall, and placed in the San Mateo jail. Stanford University President Robert G. Goerner made it clear in his message at the time, that the university would stand against any act of discrimination, on any basis, against any student. Stanford’s Jewish students and professors in the 1940s protested by wearing yellow stars; on Jan. 2, 1947, President George J. Goerner apologized and wrote, “I want you to know that I sympathize with and fully support you in your efforts to protect yourselves against the intolerance of our community.”

At the time when Goerner wrote the letter, anti-Semitism was on the rise at Stanford. In 1942, a Jewish law professor from Germany, Dr. Hermann Oberth, was invited by Stanford’s president to participate in an anti-Nazi conference in San Francisco, where he gave a speech calling the German Nazis “Hitlers of the twentieth century.” Oberth

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