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.

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