This Week in Amherst History: Sept. 21, 1939

Opening with the College’s alma mater, “Lord Jeffery Amherst,” the broadcast announced, “‘This program is being sent by friends in Germany to friends in Massachusetts with special greetings to Amherst College,'” The Student reported.

The broadcast depicted the life of a German student at Amherst. The narrative was based on the experiences of Karl Schwarz, an exchange student to Amherst in 1933. After returning to Germany, Schwarz became the editor of Geist der Zeit, a paper published by the ultra-Nazi Berlin Institute of International Education.

The radio broadcast included transmissions that included the exchange student arriving on campus, attending chapel, visiting a fraternity house, spending an evening with Robert Frost and watching a football game. During this radio story, the exchange student evolves into “one of the boys.”

Even 63 years ago, the general opinion on campus overlooked the broadcast’s connection to the war. “According to the general opinion, the broadcast was noteworthy as a tribute to the College, but also remarkable as a job of propaganda,” reported The Student.

One unnamed faculty member did, however, note that, “It is significant that the war was not mentioned.”