The Hispanic Institute Between the Wars: The Making of Cultural Networks

Politics: The Hispanic Institute in Spanish Civil War and WWII > Aid For Spanish Refugees and Exiled Professors

Photograph of Herta Tempi. photograph recto

Photograph of Herta Tempi

Click here for item information

The public posture of neutrality maintained during the Spanish Civil War did not prevent the Institute's professors from coming to the aid of the large number of Spanish refugees and intellectuals who had to go into exile.

The Unitarian Service Committee was formed in May 1940 as a standing committee of the American Unitarian Association for the purpose of rendering humanitarian service to refugees in danger from Nazi persecution. In the picture, Herta “Jo” Tempi, head of the USC Paris office, holds a photograph showing Republican Spanish refugees in France. The shortage of clothing (“clothing famine”) forced them to wear concentration camp uniforms even a year after the end of World War II.

Photo of professor Tomás Navarro. photograph recto

Photo of professor Tomás Navarro Tomás

Click here for item information

Tomás Navarro Tomás was a leading researcher at the Center for Historical Studies in Madrid, a member of the Royal Spanish Academy, recognized as one of the most important scholars in the field of Spanish phonetics. Before going into exile in the United States, Navarro Tomás served as Director of the National Library of Spain. In 1939, after the efforts of Federico de Onís, Navarro Tomás joined Columbia University, where he worked until his retirement in 1957.

In the letter of recommendation that he addresses to the Provost in 1939, De Onís suggests hiring Navarro Tomás in terms of humanitarian aid: “Now that the civil war in Spain is practically over, one of the immediate tragic results will be that the Spanish intellectuals, most of whom were living in Madrid and Barcelona and are, as a rule, liberal-minded, though non-political, will have to flee Spain and live in exile, especially those who remained in Spain through the hardships of the war."

Columbia University Libraries / Butler Library / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-7309 /