“Islands and coast Asia Minor still crowded with refugees. Stop. Number there still to be repatriated estimated three hundred thousand. Stop. We are maintaining three stations in Mytilene district clothing alone being available, but food urgently needed. Stop. Above statements based on personal inspection this Commission. Stop. We recommend that work in Aegean be immediately extended to other islands like Chios, Samos and to opposite coast which can be reached by sea transport which can be secured by Greek governments. Stop.”
The text quoted above is a small portion of a long telegram (47 lines) that Colonel Edward Capps sent to Harvey D. Gibson, member of the American Red Cross War Council in Paris, on December 12, 1918 (NACP, Greece, ARC Commission to, 964.62/08). The telegram reported the activities of the American Red Cross (ARC hereafter) since arrival of its Greek Commission in Athens on October 23rd.
This is not the first time I am writing about the activities of the ARC in Greece. In 2011, together with Jack L. Davis, then Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter), we organized and subsequently published the proceedings of a conference titled Philhellenism, Philanthropy, or Political Convenience: American Archaeology in Greece (Princeton 2013). Davis’s paper, “The American School of Classical Studies and the Politics of Volunteerism,” discussed the involvement of members of the ASCSA, through enlistment in the Greek Commission of the ARC, in humanitarian aid in eastern Macedonia, as well as in the repatriation of Greek citizens who had been taken as hostages to Bulgaria. Later in 2015, on the occasion of the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli, I was invited to participate in a conference about The First World War in the Mediterranean and the Role of Lemnos, with a paper that discussed the humanitarian activities of the ARC Greek Commission in the eastern Aegean at the end of the Great War.
My paper, titled “Professors to the Rescue: Americans in the Aegean at the End of the Great War, 1918-1919,” was published in the proceedings of the conference in 2018. Since the publication, because of its modern historical focus, will hardly reach the archaeological community, I decided to post a version of my paper, enhanced with more images, here. The story to be told is another, unknown chapter in the history of the American School; it also tells the story of a number of people, such as A. Winsor Weld and Horace S. Oakley, who, strangers at first to Greece, turned into philhellenes and life-long supporters of the American School.
The Greek Commission
The ARC’s mission to Greece was organized in June and July of 1918 in response to an appeal from the Greek Red Cross. From the time that America entered the war in 1917, the ARC, with the endorsement of President Wilson’s government, had sent several commissions to Europe to provide military and civilian relief in England, France, Italy, Belgium, and Serbia. The Greek Commission was headed by Edward Capps (1866-1950), professor of Classics at Princeton University and newly appointed chairman of the School’s Managing Committee, a position he would hold for twenty years (1918-1939).
“There came from America to do the work 103 persons (60 men and 43 women), and several others were recruited in Europe. They enlisted in the service of the American Red Cross from all parts of the United States, and represented all manner of occupations and professions. There were business men, lawyers, bankers, physicians, preachers, teachers, farmers and mechanics, and among the women, trained nurses, stenographers and social workers. The authority of the Commission was vested in the Commissioner, who held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and seven Deputy Commissioners with the rank of Major.” Thus Capps described the composition of his team in his final report at the conclusion of their mission (Capps 1919, p. 11).
Henry B. Dewing (1882-1956), assistant professor of Classics at Princeton, most likely Capps’s personal choice, was appointed Secretary of the Commission. It is not clear when and how it was decided that Edward Capps would lead the ARC Greek Commission. The fact that he had been a colleague of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University must have played some role. But it was not the only reason. The ARC had created a separate department, the Insular and Foreign Division (IFD), to reach out to the thousands of Americans who resided abroad, either as employees of the State Department or working for various American corporations, institutions, and organizations (Irwin 2013, p. 76). (For information about the activities of the ARC during Wilson’s presidency I have relied on Julia Irwin’s excellent book, Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening, [Oxford 2013].)
That Capps had access to an operating base in Greece (i.e., the American School) must have given him a leg up in the selection process. In addition, the staff of the School in Athens, Bert Hodge Hill, director since 1906, and Carl Blegen, secretary since 1912, shared a deep knowledge of Greece (its geography, language, customs) and, above all, they were well connected. “An essential depository of local experience,” the School could (and would) act as a buffer to a group of newcomers ignorant of Greek realities (Hatzivassiliou 2013, p. 18).
The Greek Commission, in addition to Capps and Dewing, also included seven deputy commissioners:
Clifford W. Barnes, Chicago. Minister (1864-1944)
Carl E. Black, Jacksonville, Illinois. Surgeon (1862-1944)
Cyril G. Hopkins, Urbana, Illinois. Professor of Agronomy (1866-1919)
Alfred F. James, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Businessman (1870-1959)
Horace S. Oakley, Chicago, Illinois. Lawyer (1861-1929)
Samuel J. Walker, Chicago, Illinois. Physician (unknown dates)
A. Winsor Weld, Boston, Massachusetts. Businessman (1869-1956)
We do not know the selection criteria for the deputy commissioners and how much say Capps had in the selection process. That the majority of them had some connection with the state of Illinois, Capps’s home state, makes me suspect that he was involved in the selection of the deputy commissioners, and probably already knew some of them personally. Capps had been born in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1866, received his B.A. from Illinois College (1887), his Ph.D. from Yale (1891), and had taught at the University of Chicago before he moved on to Princeton. With the exception of Dewing, who was in his mid 30s, the rest of the officers were mature men in their early 50s with families and established careers. Each commission must have had representatives from a number of professions. Naturally, doctors and nurses, but also ministers, bankers, and lawyers were highly desirable members, as this telegram to Horace Oakley reads: “… this commission should include lawyer and you have been suggested as eminently fitted for this position” (Newberry Library, Horace S. Oakley Papers, Alfred James to Oakley, Sept. 3, 1918).
A New Elite Emerges
While for the younger people personal development and career opportunities might have been an additional motivation for joining the different missions of the ARC in Europe, it is not entirely clear why older and established people would leave their homes to subject themselves to hardships and suffering. There are several reasons to consider. First of all, a strong sense of patriotic duty must have influenced their decisions. Although service in the ARC was not a substitute for combat, the militarization of the ARC after 1917 was viewed as an alternative form of service by many men who were beyond draft age. Businessmen, doctors, and professors, including Edward Capps, became majors and lieutenant colonels overnight (Irwin 2013, pp. 119-121).
One also has to acknowledge the cosmopolitan nature of American society during the Progressive Era, a prospective that encouraged international activities. But most of all, by being part of the ARC in the first two decades of the 20th century, one belonged to a new professional elite, “drawn from the ranks of the U.S. government and corporate America” (Irwin 2013, p. 7). These men and women were similarly minded and well-educated people who had embraced the scientific management theory for economic efficiency and labor productivity.
The new elite, proud to manage philanthropic foundations and organizations such as the ARC, also shared President Wilson’s larger vision for global peace and international order. In addition to substituting “dollars for bullets,” America had found another way to reach out to the world by offering a new type of civilian aid: non-sectarian, preventive, and constructive. By trusting its humanitarian mission to an army of professionals, the ARC conferred “a greater sense of cultural prestige” to the international work of the organization (Irwin 2013, p. 36).
The ARC Greek Commission at Work
With the preceding discussion as a background, I now come to the main part of my post: that is, the work of the ARC in the Aegean. The members of the Greek Commission arrived in Greece, via Paris, on October 23rd, 1918. Upon their arrival in Athens, Commissioner Capps and his deputies were taken to the ASCSA, which had been rented by the ARC to be used by the deputy commissioners as sleeping quarters. The rest of the commission boarded in Athenian hotels. For its headquarters, the Commission rented a large private mansion at 19, Kephissias Street.
By December the Commission had already dispatched three missions: one to Eastern Macedonia to facilitate the repatriation of more than a hundred thousand Greeks who had been taken as hostages to Bulgaria during the war; a second to Southern Epirus to investigate reports of extreme starvation, and a third to Mytilene and the adjoining islands to offer civilian relief to Greek refugees from Asia Minor. (For the ARC mission to the Eastern Macedonia, Davis 2013; and Hatzivassiliou, 2014.)
I have consulted three types of sources for the mission to the islands: a) ARC’s published reports; b) professional correspondence and unpublished reports in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C.; and c) personal papers of members of the Greek Commission housed in various U.S. libraries and archives. In one case, I was fortunate to locate and buy from an antiquarian bookseller a rare privately circulated volume reproducing letters that A. Winsor Weld, one of the deputy commissioners, sent to his family from Greece in 1918-1919 (Aegean islands: Dec. 10-24 and Febr. 15-25). Weld, an investment broker from Boston, was placed in charge of civilian relief in the Aegean, and is also the author of a long report about the activities of his mission. (For Weld’s first impressions of Athens and Greece, read “Athens 1918: “In Every Way a Much More Attractive City than Rome.”)
The Aegean Expedition
On November 6, 1918, Weld dispatched to Mytilene an expedition accompanied by a shipload of supplies to provide civilian relief to thousands of refugees from Asia Minor. Dewing, the Secretary of the Commission, headed the mission; he was no stranger in the Aegean. From 1910 until 1916 he had served as dean of Robert College in Istanbul. Capps must have included Dewing in his party for his familiarity with the region and the language. The problem of language communication is not mentioned in the official reports but appears frequently in Weld’s letters to his family. Once outside Athens the members of the Commission could hardly find any Greek who could speak more than a few words of French. Dewing would do most of the talking when members of the Commission conducted business with Greek officials in the islands (Weld, Letters, p. 94).
Using Mytilene as a base, relief was also distributed to the islands of Tenedos, Imbros, and Samothrace, as well as to the city of Aivali in Asia Minor. Two more stations were established on Chios and Samos. Each station maintained a residence for personnel, a warehouse for supplies, and suitable quarters for its various activities (Weld, “Relief Work”, p. 4). In the official and unofficial reports it is repeatedly mentioned that transportation of supplies and people from Piraeus to the islands but also from one island to the other was “exceedingly difficult.” To facilitate island communication in January 1919, the U.S. navy placed at the disposal of the Greek Commission six submarine chasers (Weld, Letters, p. 117).
A Wretched Situation
The Commission found the refugees underfed and clad in rags. “Very few children have shoes and stockings,” Weld described in his report (Relief Work, p. 9). The soup kitchens that the Greek state ran in Mytilene allowed for one dish of soup or vegetable each day and such kitchens did not exist outside the town (Weld, Relief Work, p. 18). In addition, a large epidemic of influenza had stripped the hospitals of medicines. The refugees lived like squatters in abandoned and half-destroyed Turkish houses, in deplorable sanitary conditions. In the towns, because of lack of space, families of 8-10 people were forced to live in one room. On the island of Mytilene alone, the Greek Commission reported “a refugee population of 52,000 quartered on a native population of 180,000)” (Weld, Relief Work, p. 19). How wretched the situation was on the islands is best described by Weld who, while attending a funeral, was shocked to see that “the beautiful burying clothes and everything is taken off before the body is covered, clothing too valuable to lose” (Weld, Letters, p. 105).
The ARC organized its civilian relief on these islands along three lines: a) it opened workshops for making clothes (ouvroirs); b) it distributed food and clothes; and c) medicines were dispensed by trained nurses. Since the Greek authorities had established Refugee Bureaus, distribution of relief was done in an organized and fair manner.
Putting Refugees to Work
Opening workshops to make clothes was an intelligent way to occupy women refugees, and to teach them a skill; by earning some income to support their families these women avoided prostitution. On the island of Samos, the workshop occupied 65 women, who worked from 8.30 to 5.30 and produced from 200 to 300 garments daily. The nurse supervising the Samos workshop reported that “no work was too great for them, and each was paid according to the number of garments made and the quality of her work. The rivalry kept a sharp edge on the results” reported nurse Ethel G. Hazlewood (Weld, Relief Work, p. 40).
Paid work was part of the ARC’s overall philosophy, which did not focus only on temporary relief, but strongly emphasized creating foundations for “orderly, industrious postwar societies,” where people remained productive and self-supporting, and children were well-fed and educated (Irwin 2013, p. 71). Clothing was distributed in small parcels. Getting these parcels to the population that lived outside the large towns on the islands was a real trial for the members of the Commission. Travelling by donkeys and mules, sometimes it would take a full day to reach an isolated village.
The ARC had a tradition of distributing farm equipment and seeds to encourage agricultural work. In fact, when the Greek Commission was being formed, the Greek government asked “if we should include in our mission an expert in soil fertility,” Capps wrote in his report (Capps 1919, p. 27). It is no surprise, therefore, that one of the seven deputy commissioners, Cyril Hopkins (1866-1919), a professor of agronomy at the University of Illinois, came to Greece to study the soil and suggest ways of improving its efficiency. His report was the only one of the Greek Commission’s reports that was published in Greek. His report also explains the mystery of the capital Greek letters appearing on the photos of the Greek Commission. What originally looked like fraternity letters but did not make any sense in the context of an ARC photo were, in fact, the symbols for chemical elements. During his time in Greece, Hopkins had collected and analyzed hundreds of samples of soil, in an effort to make Greek soil more productive. Unfortunately, Hopkins died of malaria at Gibraltar in October 1919 on his way back to America.
Aiming at better nourishment for the starving refugees, the Commission added rations of beans twice a week. As a complement to the rice that the Greek government had sent, the ARC added milk and sugar to transform it into a nutritious ρυζόγαλο. Finally, the ARC supplied the kitchens with flour in order to add macaroni to their sparse menu (Weld, Relief Work, p. 28). The Commission also made sure that supplies of food and clothing were distributed to the orphanages.
Weld makes another important point in his report. The distribution of the supplies was done directly by members of the Commission, “in order that our help should not be merely of the physical kind but should also bring into it something of a personal element and thereby help to cement a friendly feeling and to show that the American people were directly interested in their lives and comfort” (p. 15). Chester H. Aldrich, an American architect and head of the Italian Commission, had blatantly reminded his delegates that all relief needed to possess “an American character pronounced enough to constantly remind everyone connected with it that this help comes from America” (Irwin, p. 119, and n. 48).
By creating an environment of lasting appreciation of the United States, knowingly or unknowingly, the ARC workers of the Greek Commission (and the other Commissions) were spreading the seeds for Wilson’s peacetime visions of a safe and well-ordered world, evoking his famous Fourteen Point speech of January 1918 (Irwin 2013, p. 125). Dewing in his report exalted the friendly reception of his team by the habitants of Mytilene. “The streets resounded, during the progress through the city, with cheers for the American people and for President Wilson. The name and fame of Wilson is familiar in every household on the Island of Mytilene as, indeed, it is through the length and breadth of Greece” (Weld, Relief Work, p. 17).
The issue of U.S. propaganda surfaces also in Weld’s report: first, the ARC workers were initially suspected by locals of being agents of political propaganda by the local inhabitants but, when they went about their business not favoring any parties, that idea soon ended. Then they were suspected of religious propaganda but “the number of priests who came to watch our work, and frequently to share in its benefits, proved that was wrong” (Weld, Relief Work, p. 36).
Teaching Preventive Care
While the European Red Cross societies limited their aid to the battlefield, the American Red Cross from the beginning embraced a broader mission by investing heavily in preventive, long-term care. As soon as America entered the war in 1917, the ARC, with financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, undertook a large anti-tuberculosis campaign in France to fight the resurgence of tuberculosis during the Great War. The French campaign initiated a series of other public health initiatives which included educating women in the principles of public health and nursing (Irwin 2013, pp. 129-130). The Greek Commission included two experienced doctors from Chicago: surgeon Carl E. Black (1862-1944) and physician Samuel Walker. After surveying 47 military and 49 civilian hospitals Black produced a report about their needs and, accordingly, the ARC distributed aid (Black 1919).
In the papers of deputy commissioner Horace S. Oakley (Newberry Library, Chicago) I found a snapshot taken at the ARC dispensary on the island of Chios. The head nurse is demonstrating to expectant mothers how to bathe and clothe babies properly. At the end of each of these demonstrations the future mothers would receive a layette containing a blanket, soap, and clothes for the infant. Weld recorded in one of his letters that the layettes were so eagerly sought after by the refugees that it led to “attempts to obtain them by false pretenses, through the use of padding to give the necessary appearance” (Weld, Letters, p. 90).
With the repatriation of the Greeks from Bulgaria and the return of the refugees to Asia Minor, the Greek Commission concluded its relief work in May 1919. Capps and some of the deputy commissioners, including Weld, stayed throughout the summer to write their reports.
Presenting final reports to the ARC administration in Washington was part of the organization’s concept of scientific management. In addition to describing past activities, the reports also included plans for constructive work of more permanent character. Capps was pursuing appropriations from the ARC to support a training school for nurses, child welfare stations, and orphanages for a period of five years. Instead, Greece received funding for one year only.
Financial reversals had forced the ARC to suspend most of its European long-term programs by June 1st, 1920. The American people not only had limited their contributions to the ARC, but they were also expressing serious concerns about its plans for international expansion during peacetime. Wilsonian internationalism and the public support for the ARC, once kindred spirits, waned completely after Wilson retired from the U.S. presidency in 1921. From now on the ARC would only respond to emergency calls.
When in the early fall of 1922 Greece placed another emergency call to the ARC, there was a robust American community already in Athens to take immediate action. The Athens American Relief Committee included Harry Hill, the manager of the American Express Company, and W.S. Taylor, the representative of Standard Oil. The person who organized the actions of this temporary committee was none other than Bert Hodge Hill, the director of the American School. And it was Edward Capps to whom Eleftherios Venizelos wrote in January 1923 asking for his support in the organization of refugee settlements after the departure of the ARC. From 1923 to 1928 Bert Hodge Hill would take time off from his director’s duties (which ended in 1926) to work diligently for the Refugee Settlement Commission, personally inspecting refugee settlements in all parts of Greece, including the Aegean islands (Daleziou 2013, pp. 54-57).
The School through its involvement with ARC would also gain the life-long support of deputy commissioners Weld and Oakley. Both served on the Board of Trustees of the School. Weld would also become the Treasurer of the Board from 1946 until his death in 1956. Both followed the School’s affairs with great interest. In the Newberry Library at Chicago where the Oakley papers have been deposited, there is extensive correspondence between Oakley and Capps about the progress of the School’s negotiations with the Greek government concerning the concession of the Athenian Agora excavations. Furthermore, in 1926-1927, Oakley donated $5,000 to the School for the erection of an excavation house at Corinth (the so-called “Oakley House”). Oakley’s sudden death in 1929 deprived the School of a committed friend.
NACP = National Archives at College Park, College Park, Md.
Newberry Library (Chicago), Horace S. Oakley Papers
Weld, Letters = A. Winsor Weld, Letters from Greece, 1918-1919 (privately published).
–Carl E. Black, Survey of the Hospitals in Greece (Athens 1919).
–Edward Capps, The American Red Cross in Greece (Athens 1919).
–Louis P. Cassimatis, American Influence in Greece, 1917-1929 (Kent 1988).
–Eleftheria Daleziou, “ ‘Adjuster and Negotiator’: Bert Hodge Hill and the Greek Refugee Crisis, 1918-1928”, in J. L. Davis and N. Vogeikoff-Brogan (eds.), Philhellenism, Philanthropy or Political Convenience? American Archaeology in Greece, Hesperia (Special Issue) 82:1 (2013), pp. 49-65.
–Jack L. Davis, “The American School of Classical Studies and the Politics of Volunteerism”, in Jack L. Davis and Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan (eds.), Philhellenism, Philanthropy or Political Convenience? American Archaeology in Greece, Hesperia (Special Issue) 82:1 (2013), pp. 15-48.
–Dimitra Giannuli, “American Philanthropy in Action: The American Red Cross in Greece, 1918-1923,” East European Politics and Societies 10 (1995), pp. 108-132.
–Evanthis Hatzivassiliou, Βιώματα του Μακεδονικού Ζητήματος. Δοξάτο Δράμας, 1912-1946 (Athens 2014).
–Cyril G. Hopkins, Πώς η Ελλάς μπορεί να παράγη περισσότερη τροφή (Athens1919).
–Julia F. Irwin, Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening (Oxford 2013).
–A. Winsor Weld, Relief Work among the Aegean Islands (Athens 1919).
“The haughty arrogance of the Nordic people”: A Scandal in the German Colony of Athens on the 20th of April 1935.Posted: December 1, 2018
Posted by Alexandra Kankeleit
Alexandra Kankeleit here contributes an essay about an unknown episode, almost a scandal, which took place in 1935 in the German community of Athens and involved the local Catholic church and members of the German Archaeological Institute. Alexandra, an archaeologist who specializes in the study of Roman mosaics, has also since 2016 been part of an extensive project of the German Archaeological Institute (Athens and Berlin), titled The History of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens during the National Socialist Era. As part of the project, she has examined a host of bibliographic and archival sources in both countries that document the activities of the German archaeologists in Greece from 1933 until 1944. A list of her most recent publications can be found on Alexandra’s own website.
A recently discovered episode from 1935 offers a striking picture of the predominant mood in the so-called “German Colony” in Athens following the National Socialist seizure of power in Germany. (“Deutsche Kolonie” was the official name of the German-speaking Community in Greece until the end of WWII.) It illustrates in dramatic fashion what battlefronts were being drawn up at the time and what the representatives of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens (DAI Athen hereafter) saw as their role in this critical period.
I stumbled more or less by chance upon this incident while carrying out research at the Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office). The relevant documents are to be found in a folder that deals with the “Schwarze Front” (“Black Front”) in Greece, an underground organisation that was opposed to Hitler and his policies, and which was founded in 1930 by Otto Strasser (1897-1974), brother of the infamous Gregor Strasser (1892-1934). From 1934-1937 members of the “Schwarze Front” were based in Greece publishing illegal flyers and articles, and encouraging Germans living in Greece to turn away from Hitler.
It seemed unlikely that information about German cultural policy in Greece, and in particular the DAI Athen, would be hidden amongst such material, but I was in luck and a search in the proverbial haystack yielded a small but successful result. A short time later I discovered supplementary material in the archives of the DAI, the Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (German Evangelical Church) in Athens, and the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives) at Koblenz. These materials round out the picture and allow me to report on this interesting story here.
This episode is naturally embedded in a broader context, titled History of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens during the National Socialist Era. This project was created in 2016 on the initiative of Professor Katja Sporn, Director of the DAI Athen. (I am immensely grateful to both her and the staff in charge of the above-mentioned archive ‒ Lucia van der Linde, Johanna Müller von der Haegen and Hilde Hülsenbeck. I also want to thank Neil Bristow, who is responsible for the English translation of this article, and Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan for presenting it in her blog.)
A Casual (?) Evening Lecture
On 20 April 1935 there was something of a scandal among the German community in Athens: to mark Hitler‘s birthday the German prehistorian Peter Paulsen (1902-1985) gave a talk in the Gesellschaft Philadelphia (a German-Greek Association named “Philadelphia”) on the topic “Cultural Policy in the New Germany.” Unfortunately the text has not survived (or at least it has not been discovered in the relevant archives), but fortunately there are testimonia concerning the varied reactions of the audience. All Germans living in Athens were invited to attend the event (as part of a so-called “comradeship evening”). It is not clear exactly how many people turned up. At this time approximately 600 Germans lived in Athens (out of a total of 1,000 in Greece), while Greeks with an interest in Germany also often attended the community evenings in the “Philadelphia” association. The talk dealt with, among other topics, the reintroduction of German cults and neo-heathen rituals to supplant Christianity. The response of the attendees appears to have been mixed: some offered wild applause, others were shocked by and rejected Paulsen’s theses. Reports on the evening offer no consistent picture.
Only three persons in attendance voiced criticism and demonstratively left the hall before the end of the talk. According to the sources, the persons in question were Father Richard Liebl, Dean Gödicke, and Ms. Sörgel. For Ms. Sörgel, this action was to have consequences: Johann Friedrich Crome (1906-1962), researcher at the DAI Athen and regional group leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP hereafter), threateningly reminded her “that her case […] in relation to the party has not yet been settled.” The exact repercussions for Sörgel are unfortunately not known.
In the case of Father Richard the situation was more complicated, as his position and personality made him a respected person in the “Germany Colony.” It was not so easy for over-eager party members to attack and silence him. A few weeks later, on 1 June 1935, he published an article in the Catholic community newspaper “Der Rufer” (“The Caller”) that was to provoke more consternation among National Socialist sympathisers in the community.
The topic of “Germanness versus Christianity” seems to have also occupied the Evangelical priest Carl Kindermann (1896-1936?). In January 1935 he gave a talk on the topic entitled “Does Christ still have something to say to the Germans?”. In his case, too, the text has not survived, and so we are left in the dark concerning Kindermann’s precise intention and aim.
In this era of high tensions, Georg Karo (1872-1963), First Secretary of the DAI Athen, tried to play a mediating role. Two letters survive that show how he tried to soften the increasingly bitter opposition between the two camps of Germans based abroad. One letter was addressed to Peter Paulsen, who as recipient of a DAI scholarship in the spring of 1935 enjoyed the hospitality of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens. Karo thus felt responsible for him, and it is plausible to assume that the DAI Athen provided the original impetus for Paulsen’s talk at the “Philadelphia.” The second letter was addressed to Father Richard Liebl. It is not known whether Karo’s letters were ever answered, but this one-sided correspondence nevertheless offers a window into the prevailing atmosphere in Athens at the time. Karo’s involvement is particularly noteworthy when one bears in mind that, although he was christened as a Protestant, in the eyes of the National Socialists he was classified as “Volljude” (fully Jewish). His Jewish roots led him to flee Germany in 1939 and spend thirteen years in exile in the United States. (About Karo’s escape to America, the help he received from his American friends, especially Carl W. Blegen, and his life thereafter, read Jack L. Davis, “A Preamble to the Nazi Holocaust in Greece: Two Micro-Histories from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens,” published on November 1, 2014 in this blog.)
In 1935, however, Karo still felt safe and the extracts from the correspondence that are presented here illustrate the degree to which he identified with the National Socialist regime. Karo expressed understanding and solidarity towards Peter Paulsen, while Father Richard was subject to his criticism, a fact that both the German Embassy in Athens and Peter Paulsen were made aware of. But now we will let the participants speak for themselves.
The “Schwarze Front’s” Reaction
In May 1935 an article appeared in the “Deutsche Revolution” (German Revolution) newspaper entitled “Zerfall der NSDAP in Griechenland. Hitlersystem sprengt Auslandsdeutschtum” (“Collapse of the NSDAP in Greece. Hitler System Destroys German Culture Abroad”). It was written by the “Schwarze Front” organisation, which was opposed to the regime. Here is an excerpt:
“In his talk Dr. Paulsen contends that the revolution is not yet complete, and that the bloody final reckoning still lies ahead. The main battles will be against reactionaries and the church. […] In an impassioned manner Dr. Paulsen attacked the Catholic Church and the thoroughly corrosive influence of the Pope. The reckoning with the church, which is both an enemy of the German race and alien to the German people, will soon take place and will be bloody.
The contents of the talk were coolly received by the modest audience, which reacted in amazement and silence. There was no applause. The oppressive atmosphere was only heightened when Father Richard, head of the Catholic community here for many years, and Dean Gödicke, who has quickly made himself very popular among all strands of the Christian faith in the German Colony thanks to his selfless acts, left the event in protest. Father Richard described Dr. Paulsen’s arguments as “nonsense,” and both departed while the talk was still in progress. As soon as the Deutschlandlied [German national anthem] had been sung, the old party fighters also departed. As is known, this group has become increasingly resentful and angry about the antics of the “neo-Hitlerites” over the last few months.
This event led to much lively debate. The courage of the Catholic priest was praised and compared to the cowardly behaviour of Father Kindermann, who, apparently more concerned with holding onto the privileges of his position, remained until the event was over; in recent months this individual had fought against National Socialist ideas in a caustic yet clandestine way in his newsletter “Glaube und Heimat” [Faith and the Fatherland], but is now grovelling before the new rulers.”
The Catholic Church’s Reaction
On June 1, 1935 Father Richard Liebl offered his perspective in “Der Rufer,” the newsletter of the Catholic Church in Athens:
“Among us today there are circles that reject Christianity because it came from the East. There is talk of how Christianity represents a betrayal of the Nordic-Germanic spirit, and that, instead, a faith or rather relationship to God should be pursued that is born of blood and soil. Christianity, they say, did not spring from the German race. It is a Semitic offshoot that the Nordic people must shake off if its noble qualities are not to perish. The argument continues in the same vein, its representatives convinced that they are tapping into, God only knows, what sources of wisdom.
On Good Saturday 20 April 1935 we had the pleasure of hearing one of these individuals give a talk in the large hall at the Philadelphia. The speaker was Dr. Peter Paulsen, lecturer at Kiel University. From the very beginning of the talk the promise of the material was evident: Cardinal Faulhaber had the temerity to claim that prior to its adoption of Christianity, the Germans had no culture or civilization.… The 12 minutes of the young man’s talk that I managed to force myself to listen through displayed nothing but contempt towards Christianity, priests and monks in general and the Catholic Church in particular. These 12 minutes offered ample opportunity for me to admire the paltriness of historical knowledge, the ignorance concerning the essence of the Christian religion, the prejudice towards the Christian priesthood, the deep aversion towards the Catholic Church and the haughty arrogance of the Nordic people.
Holding such talks abroad is most certainly no way to improve the world’s opinion of Germany. I would go as far as to say that if these are the characters our universities are now producing then the good reputation of German universities will soon be a thing of the past. We are already the subject of enough animosity and envy in the world without having to go and make ourselves look ridiculous as well. We will not be deprived of Christianity. Christianity alone is the religion that belongs to our race, because God Himself gave it to us. Whoever claims the opposite was either never a Christian and has never understood the essence of Christianity, or has a personal interest, due to the high demands Christianity makes, in rejecting and negating it. Such speakers, far from fostering a much-needed unity in the German nation, rather heighten and deepen what are already grave divisions. Is this man still unaware of just how much damage the lack of unity since the 16th century has done to us?“
A “Volljude” as Mediator
Georg Karo, First Secretary of the DAI Athen, reacted immediately by writing, the same day (June 1, 1935), a long letter to Father Richard:
Most Esteemed Father,
When we parted this morning I had not yet properly read your article in “Der Rufer”, but only skimmed the first couple of paragraphs. […]
While I am not in a position to get involved in affairs of the Church or the Party, this article does concern me directly, as it deals with a young scholar who was sent to the south as a recipient of a scholarship from our institution [the scholarship in question is the DAI’s Reisestipendium, or travel grant]. These recipients are selected annually, based upon them being the best of the respective year. It would truly be a sad sign for German academia if your comments were valid.
Dr. Paulsen’s specialty is that branch of German prehistory that deals with the German and Nordic Middle Ages. Of course, such research cannot bypass the religious side of the Middle Ages, and so Dr. Paulsen engaged with these matters under the guidance of his teacher, the renowned church historian Professor Scheel in Kiel, with whom he also published a comprehensive work about the sources, I refer you to the 22nd “Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission” [Report of the Roman-Germanic Commission] 1933, published by our institute. Opinions in this field are, of course, very diverse and often stand in sharp contrast to one another. However, Dr. Paulsen, who was made aware of your article before his departure this afternoon, assured me that his religious outlook is indeed rooted in Christianity, albeit not in the Church. He added that he had made it known that, following his talk, he was open to discussion regarding all relevant points, including with persons such as yourself and others who left the Philadelphia and who doubtless hold very different views to his own. He is therefore understandably hurt that nobody availed of the opportunity to talk to him at the time, and that this attack has now followed more than one month later. On a personal level, as head of the DAI Athen, I have to express my displeasure that a young specialist in my field, one whom, as recipient of a scholarship, it is my duty to protect, has been subject to attacks in the press that go well beyond the disputed religious topics in question and threaten to damage his reputation and academic career. This damage is in no way offset by the explanation you plan to give in your sermon tomorrow, but rather remains undiminished in scope and is very likely to be further exploited by the anti-German publication Prags [author’s note: the »Schwarze Front« is meant here].
Most respectfully yours,
The following day, 2 June 1935, Georg Karo composed a somewhat shorter letter to Peter Paulsen:
Dear Mr Paulsen,
I deeply regret that your stay in Greece ended in such an unfortunate manner; however, I am certain that this will in no way overshadow the pleasant memories of the weeks you spent here.
I am including here a copy of a letter to Father Richard. It resulted in a detailed talk between the two of us, which concluded with the following points:
- Father Richard was never aware of your offer to discuss the relevant questions with you. He assured me that, if he had been aware, he would have availed of the opportunity, as such a discussion would have interested him greatly.
- He thought that you were a historian, and was unaware that you were a prehistorian and recipient of a scholarship from our institute.
- He deeply regrets the incident, asked me in no uncertain terms to communicate that to you, and added that he was grateful to me for providing him with an opportunity to make up for his error in as far as it is possible. He also sent a letter to this effect to Crome.
I am under the impression that Father Richard acted impulsively in a fit of indignation – which one can understand in the case of a priest who sees all that he holds most sacred being attacked – but that he bore no personal animosity towards you. At the same time, his obliging expression of immense regret is, in light of his age and status, surely impressive evidence of his desire to achieve reconciliation.
I will not write any more today, as I want to post the letter quickly, though I just wish to add what a pleasure it is to think back on the shared weeks of travel and exchanges concerning our field.
I wish you all the best for your onward journey, regards to Lullies and Bittels and Heil Hitler
signed: Georg Karo
If there was ever a “letter of apology” from Father Richard, it has not survived. In fact, a letter from the Reichsverband für die katholischen Auslandsdeutschen e.V. (Reich Association for German Catholics Abroad) to the Foreign Office in Berlin dated 25 June 1935 suggests that Father Richard did not revise his original opinion, but rather found support within his church:
“It would be a sensible step if the Reichs- und Preussische Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung [Reich Ministry of Science, Education and Culture] were advised to instruct speakers who have obtained permission to give talks abroad to conduct themselves in such a manner that similar mistakes are avoided as much as possible in future.”
Afterlives and Afterthoughts
Peter Paulsen’s biography has been relatively well researched. He was a member of the NSDAP from as early as 1928. His scholarship in 1935 preceded a rapid rise in the ranks of the SS. From 1937 Paulsen worked as SS-Untersturmführer at the Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt (Race and Settlement Main Office) in Berlin. In 1939 he became active in the SS-Ahnenerbe, a National Socialist think tank focused on racial doctrines. In Poland he led the Reichssicherheitshauptamt’s (Reich Main Security Office’s) »Sonderkommando Paulsen«, a special unit named after Paulsen himself. While holding this post he stole the Veit-Stoß altarpiece from St. Mary’s Church in Krakow, as well as many other art works from Polish collections and libraries. (On the recovery of the Veit-Stoß altarpiece, read entry for Karol Estreicher, Jr. here.) 1941 Paulsen was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer, and as of 1944 he led the “Germanische Führerschule” (Germanic Führer School) in Hildesheim. After the war he went through a denazification process (BArch Z 42-II/1269). He then became a teacher and in 1958 was employed at the Wissenschaftliche Forschungsgesellschaft Syriens (Scientific Research Association of Syria). In 1961 he was appointed curator for the Early Middle Ages department at the Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart.
Very little is known, however, about Father Richard Liebl. According to individual eyewitness reports, he provided assistance to the starving population of Greece during the occupation and was held in equally high regard among both Germans and Greeks. No photographs, letters or other documents that indicate his subsequent path have been found in the relevant archives. If anyone is aware of such documentation at other locations I would be very grateful for information.
The documents that have been presented here for the first time offer us a picture of a society characterized by great uncertainty, conflicting aspirations and feelings, but still hopeful that the situation could be defused. While it is apparent that Georg Karo went out of his way to serve the new regime in Germany, behind the scenes he also tried to assist German-Jewish archaeologists who had sought refuge in Greece in the inter-war period – a topic that will be treated in a different context.
- BArch Koblenz, Spruchgerichte in der Britischen Besatzungszone Z 42-II/1269
- PAAA, RAV Athen, 37 (Schwarze Front, Band 1).
- PAAA, RAV Athen, 38 (Schwarze Front, Band 2).
- PAAA, RAV Athen, 63 (Kulturpolitik: Schulen, Presse, Wissenschaft, Verschiedenes).
- DAI Berlin, Archiv der Zentrale, Biographica-Mappe Peter Paulsen.
- Evangelische Kirche Deutscher Sprache in Griechenland:
»Glaube und Heimat«. Monatsblatt für die Deutschen Evangelischen Gemeinden in Griechenland: Athen, Saloniki, Patras, Volo, Cavalla, Corfu, Kreta, Jahrgang 7, 1935, Nr. 4 Seite 6 und Nr. 6 Seite 5.
- Barth W. and G. Auernheimer, Geschichte der Deutschen Gesellschaft Philadelphia in Athen (Athens 2001)
- Fleischer, H. “Der Neubeginn in den deutsch-griechischen Beziehungen nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg und die ‘Bewältigung’ der jüngsten Vergangenheit,” Thetis 10, 2003, 191-204.
- Kankeleit, A. “Η ιστορία του Γερμανικού Αρχαιολογικού Ινστιτούτου Αθηνών κατά τη διάρκεια της ναζιστικής περιόδου,” Θέματα Αρχαιολογίας 2018, 64-87 (https://www.themata-archaiologias.gr/?p=6937).
- Kius, E. Heureka. Auch eine Odyssee, Norderstedt 2006, 230-231.
- Klein, J. “Hans Schleif. Stationen der Biographie eines Bauforschers im Nationalsozialismus,” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 131, 2016, 317-322.
- Krumme, M. “Walther Wrede (1893–1990),” in Lebensbilder. Klassische Archäologen und der Nationalsozialismus I, ed. G. Brands and M. Maischberger, Rahden 2012, 159-176.
- Leube, A. “Die Ur- und Frühgeschichte an der Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin,” in Die Berliner Universität in der NS-Zeit II, ed. R. vom Bruch and R. Schaarschmidt, Stuttgart 2005, 161.
- Leube, A. Zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte an der Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität 1933-1945, Online publication: https://www.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/en/forschung-und-projekte-en-old/foundmed/dokumente/forschung-und-projekte/ns-zeit/ringvorlesung/teilIIordner/4februar (November 2018).
- Lindenlauf, A. “Georg Heinrich Karo: Gelehrter und Verteidiger deutschen Geistes,” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 130, 2015, 259-354.
- Mezynski, A. Kommando Paulsen. Organisierter Kunstraub in Polen 1942–1945, Berlin 2000.
- Müller, K. “Die ‘Kieler Schule’ – Archäologie zwischen 1927 und 1945,” Das Altertum 55, 2010, 105-126.
Dr. Alexandra Kankeleit
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
Fidiou 1 | GR-10678 Athen
Connecting the Dots: Peripheral Figures in the History of the American School of Classical Studies. The Case of R. S. Darbishire.Posted: November 2, 2018
Steve Jobs once said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” Archives is all about connecting the dots. When processing archival material, you often come across documents, photos, or notes that don’t connect in any obvious way with the rest. For this reason all finding-aids have a “Miscellaneous” section. And such is the case of R. S. Darbishire (1886-1949), a name I came upon in the Carl W. Blegen Papers several years ago, in a booklet of poems; and more recently, while going through a small box of unprocessed material from the Blegen/Hill household on Ploutarchou 9, in a set of architectural blueprints. It took me a while to connect the dots in the Darbishire puzzle.
The Elusive Mr. Darbishire
In the Blegen Papers, there is a small booklet with a collection of handwritten poems titled “Poems to Order. Thera, June 17-21, 1928. Robert Shelby Darbishire.” The short poem on the first page is dedicated to CB:
Εξ αδοκήτο [Unforeseen]
You, when I asked, “What shall I do in Thera?”
Unexpectedly in my empty mind
Casually dropped this: “Write pretty!”
Here (unexpectedly) nought else I find.
Darbishire appears in the student list of the American School of Classical Studies (ASCSA, or School hereafter) for the year 1926-27; he is also thanked in the preliminary reports or final publications of a number of excavations conducted in 1927-1928: Prosymna, the Odeum at Corinth, and Olynthus.
There is very little information about Robert Shelby Darbishire on the web, and one has to type his name in various ways in order to retrieve a few scraps. Born in 1886 at Fort Meade, Florida, he was the son of Godfrey Darbishire (1853-1889) -a British surveyor and a famous rugby player, who immigrated to the States in 1883– and Ann Shelby of Chicago. Robert was unfortunate in losing his father at an early age. Mother and son lived for a while on a farm they owned in Danville, Kentucky before they moved back to England to be near the paternal side of the family. (Darbishire’s grandfather was Robert Dukinfield Darbishire, a well-known philanthropist and biologist from Manchester.) Nevertheless, the Kentucky farm remained in the Darbishire family’s possession for a long time; mother and son would move back to it after the death of Robert Dukinfield in 1910; and Robert Shelby would retreat to the farm in various periods of his life. In fact, the family papers are deposited at the University of Kentucky Special Collections, and it is from their finding-aid that I managed to obtain good and reliable information about the Darbishires.
I first encountered the name “Canaday” in the mid-1980s when I went to Bryn Mawr College for graduate school. Although we did most of our work in the seminar rooms above the Art and Archaeology Library (now the Rhys Carpenter Library), for books and periodicals about history or classics we had to go to the “big library,” which was none other than the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library.
A few years later when I returned to Greece to participate in the regular program of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA, or the School hereafter), I heard people referring to Canaday House. One of the two marble houses flanking the Gennadius Library at 61 Souidias, it housed temporarily the family of the then Director of the School William (Willy) D. E. Coulson. (The big earthquake of 1986 in Kalamata had caused damages to the Director’s residence across the street.)
Finally, in the summer of 1990, while digging at Mochlos on Crete, I met Doreen Spitzer on one of the “On-Site with The American School of Classical Studies at Athens” trips that she had been organizing for years, but without realizing that Doreen Spitzer’s maiden name was Canaday. It was only after I started working as the School’s Archivist that I became aware of Canaday Spitzer’s long legacy at the American School. Doreen Canaday Spitzer (1914-2010) served as a Trustee 1978-1996, President of the Board of Trustees 1983-1988, Trustee Emerita from 1996 and President of the Friends from 1988 until her death in 2010. (There is a thorough biographical essay about Doreen Spitzer by Catherine de Grazia Vanderpool in AKOUE 63, Fall 2010.) Her father, Ward Canaday (1885-1976), had also served as a Trustee of the School for almost four decades starting in 1937.
Spitzer also cared deeply about preserving the School’s history and supported wholeheartedly the creation of an Archives Department during her term as President of the Board. Furthermore, she would contact School members, many of whom she knew personally from her time as a student of the School in 1936-1938, to solicit their personal papers. No wonder why my formal title is the Doreen Canaday Spitzer Archivist. Needless to say that it would have pleased her immensely to see our new and enlarged facilities at the East Wing of the Gennadius Library. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Jack L. Davis
Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and a former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), here writes about women travelling alone through the western Balkans in the late 1930s, on the eve of WW II.
The second half of the 19th century saw the advent of mass tourism in the Mediterranean and Balkans. Despite a few blips (e.g., the Dilessi Murders in 1870 that resulted in the death of three Englishmen and an Italian at the hands of brigands; J. Gennadius, Notes on the Recent Murders by Brigands in Greece), travellers could be reasonably certain of their personal safety. Their passage was also facilitated by travel brokers and books of advice for tourists. Thomas Cook tours began in Greece in 1868. The Baedeker guide for Greece was published in 1889 while and Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Greece was already in its 7th edition by 1880.
Group and individual tourism became ever more common and secure. American students in Greece experienced violence only on three occasions. In 1872 John Williams White, first chairman of the Managing Committee of the ASCSA, was the target of an attempted kidnapping. In 1886 University of Michigan student Walter Miller was commissioned a captain in the Greek army, so that he could hunt down his assailants. Only once did lawlessness end in death, in 1925 when John Logan was shot in Aitolia by attackers who fired on members of the American and British schools, in an apparent case of misidentification (http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/pdf/uploads/ASCSA-1882-1942.pdf, p. 179).
Since the late 19th century trips for the students of the ASCSA had been institutionalized, with a Peloponnese and an island trip led by Wilhelm Dörpfeld. The Peloponnese trip was considered too rough for women, although the first woman member of the School (1885-86), Annie Smith Peck, travelled extensively there with friends. Several of the School’s female students would also hire Angelis Kosmopoulos (foreman for many excavations, including Olympia and Corinth) and his son George (later the husband of Alice Leslie Walker), as guides for their travels throughout Greece.
The more northern reaches of the Balkans began to attract tourists, including women travellers, a bit later than Greece, and there was an explosion of women travel writers there and elsewhere in the late Victorian period (http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/essay-07-07.html).
In the Main Reading Room of the Carl and Elizabeth Blegen Library in Athens, on the narrow side of one of the old bookcases, hangs a heavy bronze plaque inscribed: “In Memory of Robert L. Stroock: A Lover of Ancient Greece. MCMXXX”.
Unlike other commemorative plaques at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA or the School hereafter) which have often changed locations or even have been withdrawn from public view over the years, this one has remained in the same spot since it was dedicated shortly after Stroock’s death in 1930.
In 1924, Hetty Goldman (1881-1972), who was directing an excavation at the site of Eutresis in Boeotia, hired architect Piet de Jong to draw some of the finds she had unearthed during the season. To beat the dullness of the evenings, De Jong, who worked for American and British excavations in Greece, made pencil caricatures of his fellow archaeologists which he later turned into striking Art Deco watercolors. The majority of these caricatures once in the possession of Sinclair and Rachel Hood, are now in the care of the Ashmolean Museum. Published by Rachel in Faces of Archaeology in 1998, they constitute visual biographies of American and British archaeologists working in Greece in the 1920s and 1930s.
De Jong’s caricature of Goldman depicts her “holding a Neolithic pot of which she was particularly proud. The object behind Hetty’s head is a seated archaic statue found up in a Roman villa which was excavated at some distance from the mound [of Eutresis]… There is the mound itself surmounted by the shelter to protect the diggers from the heat of the sun… The horse, Kappa, on the road below the hill to the right draws the cart containing Hetty herself, Hazel [Hansen], Dorothy [Thompson] and Mitso the driver, on their way to work… a sailing boat or caique refers to the expedition organized by the foreman, George Deleas, to try and row across the Gulf of Corinth from Creusis, the harbor settlement of Eutresis. On the left of the picture at the foot of the mound two village girls with long plaits carry on their heads baskets of washing… Below them is a temple which probably refers to classical architectural findings at Hetty’s previous dig at Halae…” (Hood 1998, p.51). Read the rest of this entry »