Noble sperg sends in great historical find - "In Memoriam" for Dietrich Navall
This is so cool man
It really is crazy to see the stuff that you’ll come across online. A collector who listened to yesterday’s (free) podcast on the book “A Russian Dance of Death” by Dr. Dietrich Navall contacted me and told me that he actually had a copy of the original “In Memoriam” written for Dr. Navall after his death in 1958.
Navall was a Dutch Mennonite, a group that saw great persecution in the years that followed the Russian Revolution. After escaping Ukraine following the destruction of his village by Nestor Makhno’s “Black Army” of anarchists during the Russian Civil War, Dr. Navall made his way to Southern California. He was one of the first professors hired by Pepperdine University, created in 1937 by millionaire philanthropist George Pepperdine and affiliated with the Churches with Christ.
Although the school eventually had to relocate in its entirety to Malibu in 1972 after suffering from years of arsons, bomb threats, physical attacks on students, and takeovers committed by Civil Rights activists, it was originally built in South Central Los Angeles. Pepperdine University was intended to be a world-class research institution “dedicated to a greater goal—that of building in the student a Christ-like life, a love for the church, and a passion for the souls of mankind.”
The “In Memoriam” is as follows:
Dr. Dedrich Navall died on October 6, 1958, at the age of 72. He was at Pepperdine College from the beginning and served as Head of the Department of Languages until his retirement in 1955.
In his own personal experience, Dr. Navall was a bridge between groups of people with different cultural heritages, with different traditions and with different contributions to our common humanity. Brought up in Eastern Europe, learned in many languages and familiar with various cultures, he migrated to America where he came to embody the very best in American ideals. He was the kind of person so needed in our world today.
Dr. Navall was a builder of bridges of understanding. He possessed what we might call the universal spirit. As far he was concerned, there were no barriers between peoples of the world. As one writer said, and this seems to characterize the spirit of Dr. Navall, “The world stands out on either side no wider than the heart is wide; the heart can push the sea and land farther away on either hand; the soul can split the sky and let the face of God shine through, but east and west will pinch the heart that cannot keep them pushed apart.”
Dr. Navall symbolized brotherhood as Charles Evans Hughes once defined it: “To have courage without condescension, to have faith without credulity, to have love of humanity without mere sentimentality, to have meekness with power, and emotion with sanity—that is brotherhood.”
Humility, adaptability, gentleness and patience made Dr. Navall a great teacher. His colleagues admired him. His students loved him, and their love for the teacher inspired a love for learning.
Someone has said in a prayer for teachers, “Oh Lord, of all learners and teachers, help us to re-examine our loyalties by the light of thy teaching and to square them with eternal truth; help us to dedicate ourselves anew to education, for it is the bulwark of our personal rights; our political liberties, and representative institutions; help us to dedicate ourselves anew to the democratic ideals of our country, for it is the last best hope of earth; help us to dedicate ourselves anew to the universal brotherhood of humanity, for we are all members one of another. Grant, O Lord, that we may hold high the torch of truth, goodness and beauty, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
Knowledge may be gained through books, but the love of knowledge is transmitted only by personal contact. No one has deserved better of the republic than the unknown teacher; no one is more worthy to be enrolled in a democratic aristocracy, king of himself and servant of all mankind.
This is the feeling of all of us who were privileged to know Dr. Navall.
Reading so many Russian Civil War memoirs can be bleak. A lot of very brave and decent people met with terrible fates. Even the survivors who managed to make it out of the collapsing Russian Empire were often swept away in the years of chaos that followed the flawed WWI peace accords or the disaster of the Second World War. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to know that Dr. Navall, after all his years of enduring the worst suffering imaginable, managed to find his happy ending.
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