posted July 24, 2006

Professor Emeritus Paul Fried Dies

Hope has lost a visionary.

Dr. Paul Fried '46, professor emeritus of history and widely recognized as the principal architect of the international education program at Hope, died on Monday, July 24, at the ResthavenCareCenter in Holland, Mich. He was 87.

Dr. Fried, who returned to his alma mater to teach history from 1953 to 1984, was also the founding director of the college's Vienna Summer School.

Dr. Fried requested a private interment.  A memorial service is being planned for Saturday, Sept. 9, at Hope Church in Holland.

Dr. Fried was born in Germany in 1919 to Austrian parents, and his early years were shaped by the turbulence of pre-World War II Europe.  His mother was a medical doctor and his father was a journalist.  Both were outspoken and held advanced ideas that earmarked them as enemies of the Nazi movement. Their black-listed status resulted in their forced eviction from Germany, family separations, confinement in jail for young Paul after German troops marched into Austria in 1938, and, ultimately, death in concentration camps for his parents and both brothers.

Dr. Fried was released from prison and deported to Czechoslovakia.  Circuitous routing took him to England and from there to America.  He came to HopeCollege in 1940, the result of connections with a Presbyterian Church minister for whom he had briefly worked during an international missionary conference in Vienna three years earlier.

At the end of his sophomore year, Dr. Fried enlisted in the U.S. Army, eventually serving in the Intelligence Corps in the European Theatre of Operations.  He received the Bronze Star.

After the war, he returned to Hope to finish his degree and went on to Harvard, where he earned a master's in history in 1947 with plans to pursue a doctorate.

His developing interest in the rise of Nazism led him to interrupt his studies for a position as translator with the American delegation to the Nuremberg War Trials.  While part of the historic process, Dr. Fried completed his dissertation and received a doctor of philosophy degree in 1949 from the University of Erlangen.  He returned to Harvard to begin pursuing a second doctorate, but then went to Germany for two more years as a civilian employed by the United States Air Force Historical Research Division, mainly questioning German prisoners of war who had worked behind the Iron Curtain and were returning to the West.

He joined the Hope faculty in 1953, receiving the offer of a temporary appointment the day before the fall semester was to begin.  His appointment soon became permanent and in 1964 his duties were expanded to include directorship of the international education program.

Dr. Fried's chief legacy to Hope is the Vienna Summer School, which began in 1956.  One of the oldest and most highly regarded summer study-abroad programs, the Vienna Summer School centers on a six-week program in Vienna.  More than 2,500 students have participated in the popular program since its founding.

"It just struck me as so interesting that Paul of all people would start a program in Austria, since it was occupied Austria, under German influence but certainly with a lot of complicity, that had pretty much exterminated his family," said Dr. Stephen Hemenway, professor of English, who took the reins of the Vienna program in 1976.

Dr. Hemenway recalled Dr. Fried's "absolute, total lack of bitterness towards those in Europe who had caused his family's destruction."

"If anything, he was a bridge-builder," he said.  "Particularly after the Nuremberg trials, he could see the need for moving on."

Dr. Fried was recognized with The Gold Medal of Merit award from the Federal Government of Austria, bestowed in recognition of his services in fostering international understanding.  In 1981, when he retired from his post as director of international education, the Vienna Scholarship Fund, established in 1968 by summer school alumni with special emphasis on bringing Austrian students to Hope, was named for him and broadened in scope to focus on international education more generally.

Dr. Fried was director of international education when the college established the exchange program between Hope and Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan, in 1965.  Through the popular program, the two institutions exchange both students and faculty.

He was also a leader in the formation of the international program of the Great Lakes Colleges Association and for two decades was a member of the committee which monitored the association's overseas centers.  He also held liaison positions with the Institute for European Studies.

"One of the things that I think a lot of people forget that Paul never forgot is that international education is a two-way street," Dr. Hemenway said.  "That as dedicated as he was to invigorating the Vienna Summer School, and providing opportunities for Hope students to study overseas, he was equally concerned with getting international students to Hope College and just the ways that would bring about international understanding with connections that Hope students would make but also the vision of Hope in the wider world."

Dr. Fried's teaching area was modern European history.  His ability to put individual incidents into the context of history's broad spectacle distinguished his professional life.

"Paul had an enormous influence, turning people onto history, getting them excited about history and giving them a good foundation," said Dr. Neal Sobania '68, a former student who succeeded Dr. Fried as director of international education in 1981 and taught history at Hope until 2005, when he became executive director of the Wang Center for International Programs at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.  "Because he was from Europe, for him to be teaching European history just had a way of making history come alive.  I've certainly tried to do that in my own teaching."

Dr. Sobania noted that Dr. Fried was equally adept as a colleague.

"For me, Paul was teacher, mentor, friend," he said.  "When I became director of international education, he never tried to impose anything on me but he was always ready at hand to offer advice, to bounce ideas off from and to offer history about why certain decisions had been made."

Dr. Fried was an avid art collector, and the college showcased works from his collection in the exhibition "Visions from Vienna" in the gallery of the De Pree Art Center from January 15 through February 4 in 1996.  A number of his pieces have become part of the college's Permanent Collection.

Hope presented Dr. Fried with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984.  The college's international education center, long housed in a cottage in the central campus, was named in his honor on Sept. 22, 1990.  In the fall of 2005, the international program offices were moved to the college's new Martha Miller Center for Global Communication, and both the offices and the cottage, now a student residence, continue to bear his name.  In addition, the auditorium in the Martha Miller Center has been named in honor of Dr. Fried and Dr. Hemenway.

Alumni and colleagues wrote a book, Into All the World: Hope College and International Affairs, to honor Dr. Fried in 1985.  "It is not surprising that the member of the Hope College community who, during the last half century, has done more than any other individual to internationalize Hope College is himself Hope's most international citizen," wrote colleague Dr. John W. Hollenbach.