Alice Hamilton, an expert on public health, foresaw the rise of fascism in Germany.
In late August 1919, 50-year-old Alice Hamilton was sitting onboard a steamship typing quickly on a borrowed Corona typewriter, oblivious to the approaching New York skyline as she finished her return trip from Europe. She wanted to record the searing images she had just seen during an extended tour behind former enemy lines with her friend Jane Addams. In town after town across Germany, she had encountered starvation and disease, in a country reeling from the peace as well as the war, thanks to a continued British blockade designed to force the Germans to accept the harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty. Germany had become, in her words, a “shipwreck of a nation.”
Hamilton knew that the report would not be welcome by most Americans, eager to put the war behind them. Her gender would make it that much easier to dismiss. But she was determined to call Americans to conscience.