The Oberlaender Trust, 1931-1953

By Hanns Gramm | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
GENERAL REVIEW

Viewing the activities of the Oberlaender Trust in retrospect, three periods can be clearly distinguished: the time from the establishment of the Trust in 1931 to the outbreak of the Second World War; the war years from 1939 to 1945; and finally the period from 1946 to 1953, when the Trust was terminated in accordance with the wishes of Mr. Oberlaender as expressed in his letter of instruction to the Trustees of April 1, 1931.

During the pre-war period, the program of the Trust adhered rather closely to the outline set forth by the Founder, and the funds were largely used to support surveys and studies in the German - speaking countries by qualified American citizens in various fields of public interest and welfare, always bearing in mind the central purpose of the Trust--namely, "to bring about a better understanding of German - speaking peoples by the American people, and vice versa."

When the war temporarily inhibited the continuation of this program, the Trustees were in the fortunate position to avail themselves of the freedom of action which the wise founder of the Trust had granted them when he wrote in his letter of instruction: "You and your successors have power to change the character of the work as you think best. I place no binding restrictions upon you." With the approach of the war, the Trustees adopted as the major feature of their work the assistance of American institutions of higher learning in their efforts to add to their faculties desirable displaced German and Austrian scholars who had sought refuge in the United States from political persecution.

Immediately after the war, in December 1945, the Oberlaender Trust offered its services to the American civil and military authorities, notably the Division of Cultural Relations of the Department of State, in support of such cultural projects as required the sending of American citizens to Germany and, therefore, were germane to the original purpose of the Trust.

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