I have two questions based on this. What was it like when you first discovered and learned about this extraordinary and complicated effort, both in saving so many scholars, but also reading about the tough choices the Foundation had to make about engaging in this effort at all and, to some degree, having to make hard-edged decisions on who should be saved and who not?
Rodin: I think they struggled because as a Foundation committed to solving problems at their root cause, they were asking themselves [whether] the root cause is Hitler, Nazism, a political climate of despair in which this kind of hatred can grow.
Clemons: But you had assessments from people about all of this in the early 1930s that were avant-garde assessments. If you look at the broad political climate in the U.S., there's no way that their reports from Europe represented conventional thinking in the United States. They were way ahead.
Rodin: Totally way ahead. Now, in retrospect, we might have both tried to pressure the U.S. government more. And in our approach today, we would have done that, as well as tried to save more people. I wish they had done that.
On the other hand, the piece that the Foundation did in the 1930s and early 40s was so extraordinary, Steve, because they were making life-and-death decisions. They came to understand that, again, quite early. This is clear in reading both the diaries of the program officers and the decisions that they made. Many of those saved had an enormous effect on Western society, and even on America's growth. You know, often the interest has focused on how many of these scholars came and worked on the atom bomb—and we all know that story—but there were many other major thought leaders, particularly across the social sciences. Philosophy and psychology and sociology, the best minds, and ...
Clemons: The efforts started out with folks in the public health arena …
Rodin: Because that's who we knew. So it was scientists, primarily in the medical and physical fields, that Rockefeller started with because that's who the Foundation was funding in those days in Western Europe. But very quickly and again, to the credit of our predecessors, they recognized that many others should be saved that had great potential for contributing to society if they were here and survived.
Clemons: Rockefeller had a process where people, nominators basically, sent in lists of who to save. Joseph Schumpeter, the famous economist, was active in nominating people. I think that this hasn’t really been recognized about Schumpeter, at least to my knowledge.
Rodin: I know. I know. And they did it despite it being so very tough. They had to say, 'OK this guy's too old,' you know, 'we're not going to get that much benefit.' So they made age decisions. They made field decisions. They made size-of-family decisions, because they were looking at thousands and thousands of possible refugees to rescue, and they could only save hundreds because they paid for all the family, and they relocated them if they were scientists. They set them up in laboratories.