The University of Maryland has had a lot of famous visitors in the past; the Chinese National Ping Pong Team, Elvis, various Ambassadors and… Hitler?!
Well, not quite.
The year 1942 was a time of great change in America. The world was well into the Second World War, and its effects were being felt across campus. Modifications were being made to the wartime curriculum which allowed students to graduate early so that they could enlist. The government set into motion the construction of a little bomb-proof building called the Reckord Armory. Heard of it?
In an effort to keep the campus atmosphere light and cheery, The Diamondback ran a satirical article about “Hitler’s” visit to campus. On March 31, 1942, Welby Wood, a freshman at the time, took a rubber Hitler mask from his brother and decided to wear it around campus to see what the Terps would make of it. Here we see “Hitler” visiting a classroom during his very busy day of chatting up Daydodgers and planning much needed “improvements” on campus. The article reads like a very early version of the Onion, the satirical online newspaper, but even better because the joke played out in real life!
We can’t help but wonder how things would be different today, given the hindsight of history. Such an event also makes you question whether if, in such a controversial year in politics, someone dressed up as such a divisive political figure, would it be met with good humor or contention?
The Diamondback is the university’s primary student newspaper, and its coverage of athletics provides an invaluable perspective on the university’s history. Thanks to generous donations and a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper, which is currently available on microfilm in the University Archives and McKeldin Library. This post is the part of a series based on information collected during the Diamondback Digitization Project, and is the first blog post written by our new undergraduate student assistant, Madison Sines. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on Terrapin Tales blog for previous posts. Look out for more DigiDBK posts from Madi and the rest of our team throughout the semester!