Alfred University News

Retired Alfred University History Professor Gary Ostrower continues his investigations into strange life and career of former professor Edward Sittler

Alfred University Professor Emeritus of History Gary Ostrower’s essay “The Strange Case of Edward Sittler,” a study of the life and career of an Ohio-born academic who renounced his American citizenship and broadcast Nazi propaganda to American troops during World War II, then tried to reclaim his U.S. citizenship and started a teaching career in the U.S., was recently published in the journal Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historique.

Born in Ohio, Sittler held a number of teaching positions after the war, including a post at Alfred University teaching German.

Ostrower’s article notes Sittler returned to the U.S. following the war and avoided charges of treason based on the fact he had not been an American citizen while broadcasting propaganda for Germany. Only a U.S. citizen can be charged with treason against the country.

At Alfred University, Sittler taught German to students including one of Ostrower’s roommates. In an article published on the History News Network, Ostrower, a 1961 graduate of Alfred University, notes: “I know even today a number of people – former colleagues and neighbors – who knew and continue to think highly of Sittler. I think it fair to say that we all were stunned when news broke in 1959 about Sittler’s Nazi past.”

After Sittler left Alfred University in 1959, he accepted a teaching position at CW Post College on Long Island (part of Long Island University today). While tussling with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to regain his U.S. citizenship, his Nazi past was blown by a reporter for the Long Island Daily News. In the ensuing hubbub, his employment at CW Post was terminated, which drew the ire of the American Association of University Professors.

Eventually, Sittler’s efforts to regain his U.S. citizenship were stymied.  The U.S. Court of Appeals IN 1962 rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling that had denied his application. Ostrower observes the judges ruled Sittler could not be loyal to the principles of Nazis and to the U.S. Constitution (as Sittler tried to claim) at the same time. All the same, Ostrower says: “Give Sittler credit: He was dogged if unrealistic. … Imagine a guy renouncing his citizenship and then spending much of the rest of his life to get it back.”

Anyone wishing to read the article should contact Ostrower at