Erich Franzen (1892-1961)
Political Refugee, Germany
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Miami University, 1940-1942
Erich Franzen was a well-known German literary critic and sociologist from Ems, Germany. He wrote for several progressive periodicals including Die Weltbühne, a radical publication that was banned by the Nazis in March 1933. An avowed antifascist, Franzen fled Germany in 1934 and emigrated to the U.S. with the assistance of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars. The Emergency Committee was established in 1933 to counteract the strict immigration laws of the Roosevelt administration by arranging placements in American universities for the most eminent German scholars fleeing political repression. Of the 6000 scholars who applied for aid through the committee only 6% were selected. Notably, Franzen was one of only two scholars from the field of “Letters” that the Emergency Committee placed. The other was Thomas Mann. Franzen taught sociology at Southern Illinois Normal University and later at Miami University from 1940-1942. During his time at Miami he gave several talks about his experience in Nazi Germany, before taking a leave of absence to work for the U.S. Office of War Information in July 1942.
Franzen’s story is one of ten extraordinary personal journeys of Miami alumni and faculty told in the exhibition, Bearing Witness: The Holocaust and Jewish Experience at Miami University, co-hosted by the Walter Havighurst Special Collections & University Archives and Hillel at Miami University.
Photograph of Erich Franzen, Photo credit: Erica Loos
Letter from the Institute of International Education to President Upham, 1940
Western Union telegraph from Erich Franzen to President Upham, 1940
Letter from Erich Franzen to President Upham, 1942
Images 2, 3 and 4 Courtesy of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives