09/11/2015
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Documents found at University of Aberdeen reveal opposition to Nazis

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Historical documents discovered in a storeroom at the University of Aberdeen's King's College campus have shed light on the university's opposition to Hitler's Nazi regime in the years leading up to World War Two. For more on Scotland and World War Two, visit our archive pages.

The papers, which are in the form of minutes from a series of meetings of the Law Faculty between December 1938 and February 1939, were contained within leather-bound books, and reveal details of a request sent by the University of Amsterdam to Law Faculties across Europe and the United States, asking for their support in a resolution opposing political, ethnic and religious persecution.

The resolution highlighted 'with sorrow and dismay' that people were 'being persecuted and tormented on account of their faith, race or political convictions' and expressed concern over the use of 'so-called concentration camps.'

The Faculty, headed at the time by Thomas Taylor (pictured above) who became the university's principal and received a knighthood, unanimously agreed to support the resolution, and copies were sent to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as well as the Herald, Scotsman and Press and Journal, along with a covering letter highlighting the Law Faculty’s support.

'TRULY REMARKABLE' DOCUMENTS

Malcolm Combe, a law lecturer who has used the documents to set up the university's first Law School blog, said: 'Old documents of this nature are always interesting, but these minutes are truly remarkable.

'They offer a fascinating account of the concerns that that existed over the persecution of Jews and dissenting political voices in the period leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War. While Aberdeen had the North Sea to keep it at a relative distance from Hitler’s gathering military might, the minutes show that the University was by no means inactive in the face of the challenges of the time.

'That the Law Faculty unanimously backed the University of Amsterdam’s resolution is extremely heartening, and shows how our tradition of tolerance and freedom of expression was alive and well during this troubling and uncertain time in history.'

For more on the University of Aberdeen, visit the website.



Images copyright University of Aberdeen.

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