Holocaust Remembrance Day and Lilli Guggenheim

A post about Holocaust Remembrance Day made me remember Lilli Guggenheim. While researching my book about the former Duke Parapsychology Laboratory I came across a couple of letters from a German scientist to J. B. Rhine, the head of the lab. It was 1938, and I had a bad feeling which sadly, was confirmed.

“At some point every day, Rhine turned his attention to his enormous correspondence, which included hints of the growing problems in Europe. A couple of weeks after the Columbus symposium, a letter arrived from a 26-year-old psychologist in Berlin named Lilli Guggenheim. She’d read Rhine’s second book New Frontiers of the Mind, and she had an idea. She suggested a way of using the Rorschach Ink Blot test to find good subjects for telepathy. However, as a Jew in Germany, she explained, she was excluded from scientific laboratories, so she couldn’t do the tests herself. But if he gave it a try, “I am looking forward to hear some news about the results.” Later, she wrote again and asked about a job at Duke. She was anxious to get out of Germany. Rhine wrote Don Adams, a professor from Duke’s psychology department, to see if there was anything they could do for her, but they couldn’t come up with a position. Lilli Guggenheim would be deported from Berlin in November of 1942 and sent to Auschwitz, where she died.”

I wasn’t able to find out much about her. She did publish a couple of articles in the 1930’s, but she was at the beginning of her career at a very dark time.

Lili’s first letter to Rhine.

Rhine’s later response about a job.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

5 thoughts on “Holocaust Remembrance Day and Lilli Guggenheim

  1. I’m still a little bitter. We couldn’t lift a finger to help a smart, urbane, educated, creative Jewish scientist in 1938 but today we can’t bring in enough illiterate Muslim misogynist goat herds from Somalia because … because that’s how much the world hates Jews.

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