HBCUs Saved Jewish Holocaust Refugees

Lessons in humanity when the government fails us

Jeffrey Kass
5 min readMar 16, 2022


Campus of (HBCU) Howard University located in Washington, DC.
Image: Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

One of the first things Hitler’s Germany did when the Nazis came to power in 1933 was expel Jewish professors from universities.

Hitler issued the Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums — the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. This ordered that anyone in any part of government with at least one Jewish grandparent be dismissed from their positions. Thousands of Jews lost their jobs. Judges, police officers, and yes, teachers and academics at Germany’s top public educational institutions.

Jewish scientists and other intellectuals fled Germany as a result. People like Albert Einstein, cellular respiration pioneer Hans Krebs, and national German hero and chemist Fritz Haber.

Others who fled Germany were just kids when Hitler came to power but also became impactful scientists. Geniuses like Arno Penzias (discovered cosmic microwave background radiation and helped establish the Big Bang theory), Jack Steinberger (Nobel Prize winner in physics) and Rainer Weiss (he helped invent types of lasers).

Germany expelled over 1,150 Jewish scientists in the 1930s. In addition to Einstein, science giants Hans Bethe, Felix Bloch, Max Born, James Franck, Otto Frisch, Fritz London, Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger and Otto Stern were all fired by Hitler.

Contrary to German anti-Semitic pronouncements that Jews were a poisonous drain on society, Jews in Germany held numerous prestigious positions in academia.

German Jews were awarded multiple Nobel Prizes, with Einstein, Franck and Schrodinger among the recipients.

America ultimately benefited from Germany ridding its universities of Jews, as U.S. patents increased by 31 percent after the arrival of Jewish refugees. As of 1977, Jews accounted for a third of American Nobel-prize-winning scientists, despite being less than 3% of the overall population. This was in large part due to the German Jewish scientists who fled to America.

Albert Einstein is a theoretical physics scientist, Illustration of abstract paintings.
Image: Muhammad Suryanto/Shutterstock

But what many…



Jeffrey Kass

A Medium Top Writer on Racism, Diversity, Education, History and Parenting | Speaker | Award-Winning Author | Latest Book: Black Batwoman V. White Jesus | Dad