- Robert H. Harlan was an American exchange student from the University of Chicago studying abroad during the academic year 1938-1939 at the Philipps-Universitat in Marburg, Germany. His diary was written between September 7, 1938 and November 14, 1938, in Germany and English, on pages of a date book and include his impressions of the treatment of Jews during Kristallnacht. In a separate typed document, Robert recorded these same events in greater detail after he returned from Germany. The typed chronology details Robert's ten-day visit to the home of German Jews Bruno (1880-1957) and Frida Stern (1886-1957) in Wuerzburg, Germany between the end of August and September 8, 1938. The collection also includes a color copy of a photograph of Robert Harlan, Frida Stern, and Bruno Stern in Pennsylvania, dated April 1946.
Bruno and Frida's son, William, was a classmate of Robert's in the United States. Both of Robert's hand-written and typed documents discuss his visit with the Sterns, and describe a letter the Sterns received on September 7, informing them they must sell their home. Robert also described the couple moving to an apartment, re-establishing Bruno's law office and ultimately the aryanization of their home and Bruno's law office. Details also describe Robert being called to their home after Kristallnacht on November 9, where he witnessed the complete destruction of the Stern's apartment and belongings, and learned Bruno was arrested and deported to Buchenwald. Bruno was interned in Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar between November 12 and 23, at which point he was released. Bruno and Frida were able to flee to the United States because they had three children living there. They arrived in the United States, sailing through England in March 1939.
- Collection Creator
- Robert H. Harlan
Robert H. Harlan (1917-1998) was born in Chicago and raised in Freeport, Illinois. He attended the University of Chicago in 1935 and acquired his A.B. in 1940 and J.D. in 1942. He met his wife, Lois Harlan (1920-2011), at the University. From 1938-1939 Robert Harlan was an exchange student at Philipps-Universitat in Marburg, Germany. Following Kristallnacht, Robert helped his friend Bruno Stern (1880-1957) and his family escape to the United States. Robert was drafted to the U.S. Military in 1942 and discharged in 1946. He later joined the Foreign Service and served as Consul General of the United States in Frankfurt, West Germany from 1971 to 1975 when he left for another position in Paris.
Source: University of Chicago Library where the Robert and Lois Harlan Papers are housed.