Letter from Barbara McClintock to Curt and Evelyn Stern
In this letter to the noted German scientist and his wife-who left Germany for America shortly after Hitler's rise to
power-McClintock explained that she left the lab in Berlin to complete her Guggenheim fellowship with Friedrich Oehlkers in
Freiburg. She found Nazi Berlin miserable and Freiburg a more enjoyable locale for a foreign scientist.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (110,563 Bytes)
1934-03-04 (March 4, 1934)
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Curt Stern Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Curt Stern Papers, American Philosophical Society.
From Ithaca to Berlin and Back Again, 1931-1935
Letter from Barbara McClintock to Curt Stern (March 13, 1933)
Letter from Barbara McClintock to Curt Stern (April 19, 1933)
Letter from Barbara McClintock to Curt Stern (August 12, 1933)
Letter from Barbara McClintock to Curt and Evelyn Stern [11 December 1934?]
Box Number: 3
Folder Number: 2
March 4, 1934.
Dear Evelyn and Curt:
I feel ashamed that I have not written to you earlier but then, I am frequently so bad about doing this. As you see, I am
now in Freiburg. I spent two months in Berlin but there experienced so much sickness that I decided it would be better for
me to come to Freiburg. This, of course, was not the only reason. At Berlin, there were so few people at the Institute compared
to former times. The Harnack Haus was empty, practically no foreigners had come to the institute. After two months of being
alternately and together discouraged and physically sick I came here. I knew that it was a small university town (not so
small actually, but small in its ways of living) and that I would have a better chance to see some of the life at closer range.
Also, the botanical institute I knew to be good. Since I had not planned to do research for the few months I would be here
I thought it would be a good move. Now, I am very glad that I did so. It is very beautiful here and comfortable. The Botanical
Institute is well equipped although there are relatively few people here now. Oehlkers has been fine to me as have the other
members. I was particularly surprised at the number of Americans here. Naturally, I have gotten to know many of them and
we have exchanged ideas on all the pertinent questions. My opinions and the general opinions I can best translate to you
when I get home.
Goldschmidt was exceedingly nice to me in Berlin. I have to thank him for many kindnesses. Naturally his situation is very
unpleasant and he has my full sympathy. The situation for his children is very bad. I have seen the daughter several times.
She is thinking of coming to America to live, if she can get some sort of a position in a Hospital. I do not know what the
son is planning to do.
When I came down here to Freiburg I had planned to stay only a month and then return to Berlin. However, it agreed with me
here so that I decided to stay longer and now I think that I shall not be able to go back there before I come home. I was
sick so much of the time while I was there that I did not see any of the people that I wanted to see - thinking that I would
see them when I returned. Therefore, I did not get the opportunity to see your family. Naturally, I feel very sorry that
I lost this opportunity.
The language has come very hard for me, just as I had anticipated! However, in many ways it has been a lot of fun. I have
had a good time comparing notes with the other Americans here, and the English also. We Americans and English are all relatively
stupid in languages I find. It was something of a relief to me to find that I do not take the booby prize although I
compete for it.
I am leaving in a short time for England. I want to spend a few weeks in England and visit the John Innes Institute. I
understand that Chester bliss is there also. Quite a California reunion we can have!
Will be seeing you soon, I hope. I expect to be back in the middle of April. I am job hunting! The Guggenheim foundation
is allowing their fellows to do work in the U.S. because of the foreign exchange. I shall work in [HANDWRITTEN NOTE: Ithaca
this summer. Best regards- as always - Barb.]