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This Week in Princeton History for April 29-May 5

By April C. Armstrong *14

In this week’s installment in our recurring series, a student helps liberate a concentration camp, the presence of a military school on campus has broad local impact, and more.

April 29, 1997—Kristen Rainey ’97’s senior thesis project, “Photographs from Out West,” is on exhibition beginning on this day in the Lucas Gallery.

April 30, 1945—Alan Lukens ’46 assists in the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. As he will later describe it,

Liberation was the 29th of April at 6:00 PM. … I was fortunate to be chosen among a few early the next morning to visit the camp. … We counted 37 of these cattle cars full of dead bodies. These were what the French used to call 40 and 8. In the first war, they were made for 40 men or 8 horses. But actually, they had something like 200 men in these. And the Nazis had the crazy idea that somehow if they moved all of the prisoners from other camps, that somehow they could congregate there in Bavaria, and that the world wouldn’t know what had happened. … There were very, very few that made it. The ones who had gotten in that day managed to get off, but there were only just a handful really that were still living on those trains. The ones that were lucky, like a couple who became my friends when I got to know them later, were sick enough so they were put into the infirmary, and that’s what saved them. 

Alan Lukens
Alan Lukens ’46. Photo from 1946 Nassau Herald.

May 1, 1918—Federal agents close down all establishments in Princeton that sell “intoxicants” because of a federal regulation prohibiting the sale of alcohol within a half mile of a military school—in this case the new School of Military Aeronautics at Princeton University.

May 4, 1958—Following several incidents of eating clubs hiring “burlesque dancers,” Princeton University president Robert Goheen announces that the administration is evaluating the “Gentleman’s Agreement” that allows the Interclub Council to police themselves, but says rumors that the University plans to shut down all of the clubs are false.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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