Applications of G. I. veterans, German and Eastern European Refugees (and others) at CUA History Department, 1948 – 1950

In this situation, something unusual happened. Between 1948 and 1950, no less than thirty-five historians inquired about a position at the History Department of CUA. This was a much higher number of applications then at other times. Where did these applicants come from?  Where would they continue their careers? What does this tell us about the academic market five years after World War II and the position and status of the History Department of CUA?

Here is a list with information (including sources) on all applicants: List Two: Historians Who Applied to CUA 1949-1950

Where did they come from? 

War veterans, refugees from Germany and Eastern Europe 

Not surprisingly for the time, the overwhelming majority, thirty-two of them were men, only three women, of which two refugees from Europe. 

Half of the applicants, sixteen, were World War II veterans, two had fought in World War I, and two in foreign forces (UK, Poland). Most of the U. S. war veterans had completed their PhDs or Masters after the end of the war, profiting from the G. I. Bill. Eight of them applied with a Ph D from the best institutions: American U, Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, George Washington U, Harvard, Michigan, Pennsylvania, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Yale.  

Four PhD’s came from Catholic institutions: Georgetown, Fulham, Louvain, Rome (Vatican), others from foreign universities: Budapest, Cambridge, Paris (Sorbonne), Tuebingen.

The majority of candidates came from the north eastern United States, from cities such and Boston, Brockton and Newbury Port in Massachusetts, State Island and New York City in New York, as well as Baltimore, Maryland and Washington DC. There were a smaller number of West coast applicants who came from Berkeley, Los Angeles and Portland, OR.

Four candidates had B. A. from Catholic colleges: Immaculate Heart, St Mary’s, Loyola, La Salle, while six others from places like City College NY, Franklin and Marshall College, Yale, Tulane, Boston Teacher’s College, , Columbia. Among the M. A.’s there were also four Catholic schools: CUA, Niagara University (formerly the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels), Fordham U, and St John’s. The others came from universities of Chicago, Columbia, St Lous, UC Berkeley and LA and Middlebury College.

Six applicants were refugees who had escaped from the Nazis or the war in Eastern Europe, one was a British war veteran (Brian Tierney served in the Royal Air Force) who was called by the Chair, Msgr Ziegler, to come to teach at CUA. He had a PhD in Medieval History from Cambridge (1951). And there was Robert Lacour-Gayet, a World War I veteran and senior French civil servant and diplomat who had diplomas from a Grand Ecole and from the Sorbonne in Law and Economy and who taught courses in French history at St. John’s in New York. In 1950, he became Chair of the History Department and then started to teach at New York University after he did not get a position at CUA. 

The lives of the three Eastern European refugees tell us much about the drama of World War II and the early Cold War: 

The Hungarian historian Ida Bobula Helcz had a PhD from the University of Budapest but also an M.A. from Bryn Mawr College, where she had studied in the 1920s. Until the end of the war, Bobula had taught history as adjunct in Budapest and was a leader of the conservative women’s movement. In 1947, in the time of the Communist take-over of power, she had to leave the country. The Czech historian Francis (František) Dvorník, was a priest and academic, and one of the leading twentieth-century experts on Slavic and Byzantine history who had taught at Charles University in Prague until he had to escape from the Nazis in 1938. He taught at Trinity College in Cambridge until 1946 before he moved to the United States. Since CUA could not employ him, he took a position at Harvard. 

The most dramatic life was that of another internationally renowned scholar, the Polish economist and social scientist Stanisław Tadeusz Skrzypek. After graduating in Law at the University of Lviv (Ukraine today, at the time Polish Lvov) in 1932, he taught there until World War II broke out. During the war, he participated in the defense of Warsaw and was then active in an underground movement. After the Soviet occupation of Galicia, he was arrested and held prisoner in the Moscow Lubianka and in a Soviet Labor Camp. After Germany and her allies invaded the Soviet Union, Skrzypek fought in a voluntary unit of the Red Army. At the end of the war, he escaped to London, where he worked for the Polish government-in-exile. Since 1951, he worked for the Free Europe Committee in New York, and later in Washington where he worked as an analyst for the U. S. Information Agency. 

A university in Washington, D.C., was, for those refugees, a very attractive place since many Eastern European lobby organizations were active here. 

The three Germans who applied at CUA between 1945 and 1950, were all refugees from Nazi persecution. Two of them were Jewish, Georg Iggers from Hamburg and Luitpold Wallach from Munich. Both Iggers and Wallach became very famous historians. Iggers taught German Intellectual History and the History of Historiography at the University of Buffalo, NY, Wallach was a specialist of Medieval and Jewish Studies. He had a PhD from the university of Berlin (1932) and worked as a Rabbi in Wurttemberg until he was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp. His sister Sally in New York and many friends helped him to get a U. S. visa but his father and his younger sister were murdered by the Nazis. His edition of the chronicles of Berthold of Zweifalten were published under the pseudonym of Karl Otto Müller in 1941. In 1957, he published a revised and enlarged edition under his name. In the US, he first served as a rabbi in Alabama and Tennessee. He wanted to pursue his academic career but this proved difficult. In 1947, he obtained a second PhD in classics at Cornell, and in 1951, he got a first assistant professorship in Oregon. Luitpold Wallch later taught in Oklahoma and finally CUNY. 

The third German refugee was Eva Maria Jung (after her marriage Jung-Inglessis) from Berlin. She came from a Prussian Protestant background of higher civil servants but she was very critical of the Nazis and converted to Catholicism. During the Nazi period, she continued her studies of history at the Papal Archival School in Rome, where she obtained a PhD in church history. During her time in Rome, Jung was in close contact to Msgr. Ludwig Kaas, the former leader of the Catholic Center Party and friend of Pope Pius XII. In 1949, Jung worked as a researcher, instructor and librarian at the Department of History of Notre Dame University. In 1950, she moved to Washington, DC, teaching at Georgetown University, after Ziegler, head of CUA History, had told her that there was “no reason” for her to be at CUA. In 1959, Jung returned to Rome where Pope John XXIII celebrated her marriage to the Greek Church historian Emilios Inglessis who had known the Pope from his time as Apostolic Delegate in Istanbul.