Monday, 20 July 2020

20 July 2020 - Publication Announcement: Special Issue of History of Intellectual Culture

Publication Announcement: Special Issue of History of Intellectual Culture Focusing on Central European Émigré Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Cognitive Scientists

This update is part of the regular U of C Émigré Project Updates: (

            Earlier this month, the latest issue of the open-access journal History of Intellectual Culture (HIC) was released online (editor-in-chief: Dr. Paul J. Stortz, University of Calgary). HIC, which focuses on the historical and cultural context behind the dissemination of scientific ideas throughout history via an interdisciplinary lens, has migrated to a new OJS platform via Drupal following changes to the University of Calgary website. This special issue focuses on the topic of the forced emigration of German-speaking psychiatrists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists from Central Europe resulting from the rise of Nazism. The time period of this special issue ranges from the rise to power of the Nazi Party in Germany in 1933, up to the dissolution of the communist Eastern Bloc in 1989. Furthermore, this issue covers a wide range of topics, including individual biographies of select German-speaking émigrés (e.g. From German Youth to British Soldier to Canadian Psychologist: The Journey of German Émigré Dr. Hugh Lytton [1921-2002] by Erna Kurbegović) and broader investigations on how this large-scale emigration influenced the development of fields such as cognitive science, as explored in Vincent von Hoeckendorf’s “On the Influence of German-Speaking Émigrés on the Emergence of Cognitive Science as a New Interdisciplinary Field”. As a result, this new issue provides new insights from multiple disciplines and perspectives regarding the impact of this understudied period of academic history. As Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch writes in his Introduction to the issue, “Altogether, this special issue of History of Intellectual Culture clearly shows that the long-term migration of scientists and physicians affected both the migrants themselves and their receiving environments.” Indeed, the breadth of this issue adds significantly to the growing body of literature on the forced migration of German-speaking psychologists, cognitive scientists, and related academics.

The full issue can be read on the HIC website via the following link:

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

16 June 2020-Project Update: Research on Dr. Rudolf Altschul (1901-1963) Presented at HBI Research Day

Emigre Neuroscientist’s Biography Presented at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) Research Day (May 28, 2020)

This update is part of the regular U of C Émigré Project Updates: (

          Last month, on May 28, 2020, Anzo Nguyen presented a research poster in collaboration with Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch at the annual Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) Research Day, which took place as a half-day online symposium due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Research Day, which highlighted the work being done by HBI researchers and trainees, included a virtual gallery of poster presentations. This poster, titled “From Prague to the Prairies: Dr. Rudolf Altschul (1901-1963), a Refugee Neuroscientist’s Plight”, provided a biographical account of one German-speaking neuroscientist who eventually settled in the Canadian Prairies, namely Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. As described in the previous blog article, Dr. Altschul fled his native Czechoslovakia in 1939 due to the Nazi German annexation of Bohemia, and after a cumbersome flight found refuge and settled at the University of Saskatchewan to take up a position in the Department of Anatomy. This poster, while chronicling Dr. Altschul’s resettlement and academic career in the neurosciences in Canada, contextualizes his story in the larger exodus of Jewish and oppositional academics from Central Europe in the 1930s. In addition, a parallel is drawn to the current refugee crisis in the Middle East, where a similar mass emigration of at-risk academics is occurring. The poster was designed primarily with these overarching contextual themes in mind.

The link to view the poster can be found below:

Copyright note: the photographs in this poster were used, and are now shared, with the express written consent and courtesy of the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections from 10 June, 2020. Permission to reproduce any images must, however, be addressed to them:

Saturday, 17 August 2019

7 August 2019- Project Update: “The History of the Forced-Migration of German-Speaking Neuroscientists and Biomedical Researchers”

Publication Announcement on a Recently Accepted Article for the Journal of Neurology:
"Dr. Rudolf Altschul (1901-1963) -- Pioneer in Neurology"

By Anzo Nguyen (
This article announcement is part of the regular U of C Émigré Project Updates: (

Last month, an article co-authored by Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch and Anzo Nguyen was published online in the Journal of Neurology, titled “Rudolf Altschul (1901-1963)– Pioneer in Neurology”. This brief, biographical article details the Canadian life and career of neuro-anatomist Dr. Rudolf Altschul, who built a diverse career of many academic interests at the University of Saskatchewan. Trained at the German-speaking University of Prague, he was forced to flee his native Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of the country’s annexation by the Nazi Wehrmacht in 1939. Following a hazardous journey to Canada via Britain, including a voyage on the ill-fated ocean liner Athenia, Dr. Altschul managed to re-establish himself as an acclaimed neuro-anatomist at the University of Saskatchewan. Throughout his wartime and postwar career, he would become head of the Department of Anatomy, and conduct research in a wide range of fields, including neuro-anatomy, cardiology, and atherosclerosis. In particular, his research on atherosclerosis earned funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in his later years. This article provides a brief, but detailed account of Dr. Altschul’s storied biography, focusing on his years in Canada from 1939 onwards. In addition, by examining the case study of his individual immigration and settlement process, the article contextualizes his story as simply one of the greater mass migration of German-speaking biomedical scientists from Central Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Finally, Dr. Altschul’s career provides insight into methods that these refugee scientists employed to rebuild their careers within the professional networks of North America.

(Please see further online at:

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

21 August 2018-Project Update: Western Canadian German-speaking Émigré Neuroscientists (1930s-1940s)

Project Update: On the Subject of German-speaking Émigré Neuroscientists, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists in Western Canada (1930s-1940s)

(See also soon at:

This post is a part of the regular U of C Émigré Project Updates (

            The story of German-speaking émigré academics and intellectuals to the United Kingdom, North America, and beyond in the 1930s-1940s has thus far been a well-documented and studied plight (see, for example, the book publications by Ash and Soellner, 1996; Marks, Weindling, and Wintour, 2011; or more recently by Stahnisch and Russell, 2016; as well as Daum, Lehmann, and Sheehan, 2018) . Indeed, with regards to the case of émigré neuroscientists, psychologists, and psychiatrists to Canada after 1933, an ample body of literature has been written on these individuals who escaped National Socialist oppression to begin anew in this strange, foreign, and frozen dominion (a new Special Issue of History of Intellectual Culture will delve into latest research and provide an overview regarding the available historiography in fall 2018). In addition, some of these émigrés have written memoirs or autobiographical works themselves, such as Karl Stern’s (1906-1975) Pillar of Fire (1951), adding to the repertoire of historical literature on this group of academics during difficult historical times. However, it comes to light that the vast majority of said literature focuses on individuals who settled and built their careers in Eastern Canada: Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic. In particular, the University of Toronto, McGill University, and Dalhousie University attracted a significant number of these émigrés, with well-established medical faculties and deep connections with other research institutions in North America (for an overview, see Stortz’s article in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 2013).
What of the West? Little has been written academically of émigrés who settled west of Ontario. Indeed, the number of German-speaking neuroscientists who ended up in Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) appears to be rather small. It is noteworthy, of course, that at the time, only four universities had been established, one for each province, and medical faculties were either in their respective infancy, or non-existent. Because of this, opportunities for academic work for these scientist émigrés were scant, but several found employment as physicians, teachers, or semi-academic psychologists, etc. As a consequence, certain individuals – such as Hugh Lytton (1921-2002), Rudolf Altschul (1901-1963), and Josef Schubert (1925-)  – made the Canadian West their home, and made invaluable contributions to the early development of these institutions’ medical, neurological, and psychological departments. For instance, historian Erna Kurbegovic’s upcoming article in History of Intellectual Culture on Dr. Hugh Lytton (1921-2002) and his work in educational psychology at the fledgling University of Calgary in the 1970s-2000s, after a distinguished career in Britain, sheds light on one such individual. It details how for many émigrés the social “opening of the Canadian universities” and the vast expansion of the postsecondary teaching and research sector offered many opportunities for academic work and to share their cultural experiences from other contexts and their migratory transition through other countries, such as the United Kingdom, with a new generation of Canadian students and research colleagues.
In summary, the story of the émigré neuroscientists who lived in Western Canada remains largely “uncharted territory”. Because of this, there is much room for developing a historical perspective on the lives and contributions of these individuals. Of particular interest would be an examination of their acclimatization to life in the West, as the region at the time was perceived to be a frontier, with the potential for greater cultural barriers to be overcome than in the East. This is a project that Mr. Anzo Nguyen has taken on in his ongoing exploration of German-speaking émigrés who settled in Canada after fleeing National Socialist oppression in this time period. The overarching goal of this exploration is to determine how these individuals shaped the development of Canadian biomedical, neurological, and psychological institutes, and the level of success they experienced in integrating to the professional, social, and cultural fabric of their new homes. In addition to contextualizing individual experiences within the larger mass migration of intellectuals, along with exploring émigré interactions with the established scientific community in Canada, new insights can be revealed as to the impact of the émigrés on Canadian neuroscience.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

8 April 2018-Project Update: "The History of the Forced Migration of German-Speaking Neuroscientists and Biomedical Researchers"

Preview Platform––Frank W. Stahnisch [Ed.]: “Émigré Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Cognitive Science Researchers in North America during after the Second World War” [A Special Issue of History of Intellectual Culture– Vol. 12, 2017/18]
By Anzo Nguyen (
This article preview is part of the regular Émigré Project Updates: (

Article Preview: “From German Youth to British Soldier to Canadian Psychologist: The Journey of German Émigré Dr. Hugh Lytton (1921-2002)” by Erna Kurbegović [accepted for publication in History of Intellectual Culture] (Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Paul J. Stortz, University of Calgary)

Of the numerous refugees fleeing the rise of National Socialism in Germany during the 1930s-1940s, Hugh Lytton’s story as a young adult caught up in these sweeping changes of European geopolitics is of particular interest, yet is largely overlooked, even in academia. However, Erna Kurbegović’s journal article for the upcoming special issue of History of Intellectual Culture, “From German Youth to British Soldier to Canadian Psychologist: The Journey of German Émigré Dr. Hugh Lytton (1921–2002)” sheds light on the fascinating course of this individual’s life. This article traces Dr. Lytton’s life, beginning with his childhood in an observant Jewish family in a Germany where antisemitism was on the rise, in parallel to the rise of Nazism in the troubled Weimar Republic. By exploring Lytton’s move to Britain, internment at the outbreak of World War II, and his experience in the British Army during the conflict’s final phases, Kurbegović traces the factors towards his eventual career in school psychology. His relationships with various colleagues and fellow émigrés, whether at the University of Hull or at the internment camp at the Isle of Man, are explored as key factors contributing to this choice of career and field of research. Another aspect that is deftly incorporated into the writing is the cultural shift Lytton faced upon moving to Britain, and how his transition from observant Judaism to secular Judaism paralleled the transition in society, and by extension, the schools of psychological thought he was exposed to during the critical formative years of young adulthood. These societal influences formed a confluence with Lytton’s academic studies to produce an individual who was secular in outlook and viewed psychology as a rational science, instead of as a formalized branch of philosophy, as was espoused by the traditional German schools of psychology of the time. Finally, his move to Canada and his work in educational psychology at the University of Calgary are mentioned near the conclusion. Overall, the article by Erna Kurbegović–who is a PhD student at the University of Calgary’s Department of History–provides a detailed overview of Dr. Lytton’s life, providing an insightful look into one of many stories in the grander picture of the academic émigrés fleeing Nazi persecution, by tracing the critical factors in this tumultuous time that contributed to his eventual research and worldview.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

An Engaging Talk from PhD Candidate Chris Hyland.

The CIH working group had its monthly meeting yesterday and was treated to a fascinating lecture provided by University of Calgary PhD Candidate Chris Hyland, on his current work in the area of emigre Canadian professors. Hyland looks at Academic history in Canada and his lecture spotlighted the experiences of Samuel Mack Eastwood, a Canadian born scholar who had to flee Germany during the interwar period.

The lecture highlighted some important considerations when doing this type of research. Eastwood's experience reminds us that refugee experiences are more than just the experiences of one individual - their whole family is more often than not detrimentally impacted by the events which cause one to flee a country. Participants in the discussion were also reminded of the importance of contextualization when looking at the circumstances of scholars who suffered through these events. Eastwood served in the army in the First World War and as a foreign diplomat afterwards, on top of his years as a professor in Canada. His political views were shaped by these events and he was outspoken about his socialist thoughts while a professor in British Columbia.

Further discussion is needed on the topic of forced migration due to political leanings. Similarily Russian academics have been on the margins of this discussion thus far. It would be interesting to determine how prevalent the viewpoints of either pacifism and communism are among the academics who fled or were acting as refugees.

Monday, 28 December 2015

A Recent Newsworthy Story:

An interview given by Dr. Paul Stortz in this topic has recently been published online in the U of T Magazine. For a fascinating read on the struggles of refugees trying to gain access to Canada more than half a century ago, follow this link!