Notebook

She knew little of international politics and by her own admission did not appreciate the gravity of what was occurring in Germany…. As a student at the University of Chicago she had experienced “a subtle and undercurrent propaganda among the undergraduates” that promulgated hostility towards Jews. Martha found “that even many of the college professors resented the brilliance of Jewish colleagues and students.” As for herself: “I was slightly anti-Semitic in this sense: I accepted the attitude that Jews were not as physically attractive as Gentiles and were less socially desirable.” She also found herself absorbing a view that Jews, while generally brilliant, were rich and pushy. In this she reflected the attitude of a surprising proportion of other Americans, as captured in the 1930s by practitioners of the then-emerging art of public opinon polling. One poll found that 41 per cent of those contacted believed Jews “had too much power in the United States”; another found that one-fifth wanted to “drive Jews out of the United States.”

Erik Larson, “In the Garden of Beasts”.

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