About

The 2013 meeting of scholars and archivists, hosted by Walter Hinderer and Nikolaus Wegmann, is devoted to exiled scholars and writers in Princeton between 1933 and 1945. Rather then addressing the trajectory of the exiles as individual cases, the meeting will focus on the localization of this exile in Princeton. Scientific research, scholarship, and literature are now seen as globalized, networked activities; from this perspective, the Princeton exile attracts new interest as a case in which intellectual work was generated by a specific scholarly and social geography. Beginning in 1933, Princeton offered a refuge to a significant number of German writers and scholars, including greats like physicist Albert Einstein, historian Ernst Kantorowicz, art historian Erwin Panofsky, and writers like Thomas Mann, Hermann Broch and Erich Kahler. But, not all the refugees that gathered in Princeton were famous personalities.  For example, younger historians such as Felix Gilbert, Hans Rothfels, Hajo Holborn and Sigmund Neumann participated in a remarkable seminar devoted to the intellectual history of military strategy.

In the aftermath of the National Socialists’ takeover in 1933 and in the face of the organized burning of books deemed “un-German” in the same year, those intellectuals went into exile in order to survive and to rescue German literature and culture from the Nazis.
Princeton, a small university town in New Jersey, provided them with a locality that was at once safe haven and hortus conclusus: teaching, research, and writing could proceed in an unrestrained manner here. This sanctuary can also be localized as a major hub of the forced international circulation of elites between 1933 and 1945: at Princeton, intellectual energy could be consolidated before re-entering circuits of transfer and exchange that had been dismantled in Germany. Moreover, the close connections between the university, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the American government made Princeton a uniquely influential locale. The conference will thus investigate the complex distinction between globalization and localization in the mid-twentieth century, a time when – more than ever before – this distinction becomes an organizing force within scholarship and literature.