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Texas writer confronts SMU isolationists

November
20
1941

On this day in 1941, after a speech at Southern Methodist University, writer Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker exchanged heated remarks with students who opposed United States entry into World War II. Knickerbocker was born in Yoakum, Texas, in 1898. In 1919, after graduation from Southwestern University, he went to New York and began a distinguished career in journalism. He went to Munich, Germany, with the intention of studying psychiatry, but witnessed Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923 and eventually became chief Berlin correspondent for the New York Evening Post and the Philadelphia Public Ledger. In 1931 Knickerbocker won the Pulitzer Prize for his articles describing and analyzing the Soviet Five-Year Plan. With the Nazi takeover in 1933, however, due to his strong opposition to Hitler and the Nazi movement, Knickerbocker was deported and forced to report on Germany from beyond the frontiers of the Third Reich. In his book Will War Come to Europe? (1934) he forecast a general European war. He spent the rest of his life witnessing, reporting, and interpreting the events foreshadowing World War II, and in 1940 and 1941 he toured the United States advocating American participation in the war. He was with a team of journalists touring Southeast Asia when they were all killed in a plane crash near Bombay, India, in July 1949.

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