The Archives are pleased to announce that the Alfred Diamant papers are now processed!
Alfred “Freddy” Diamant was born into a Slovakian Jewish merchant family on September 25, 1917 in Vienna, Austria. He was the only child of Ignatz Diamant and Julia Herzog Diamant. As a child, Diamant dreamed of teaching history but due to the rise of Nazism in Vienna such a dream was forbidden and he instead entered the family textile business and managed a mill in Beška, Yugoslavia. Though he attempted to study business administration, due to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany (Anschluss) in 1938, Jews were expelled from universities. A year later, he escaped the escalating persecution practices of the Nazis and immigrated to the United States in 1940.
In the U.S., Diamant found work in a textile mill in Massachusetts, but in 1941 he was drafted into the United States military to fight for the cause of the Allies. After volunteering to speed up his service, he started basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was later transferred to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana. There, he met his future wife Ann Redmon. They were married March 18, 1943 at Irvington Methodist Church in Indianapolis. This happy period in his life was cut short when he was selected for Officers Graduate School and transferred to Maryland. There, his commanders learned of his German speaking skills and he was trained as an interrogator of prisoners of war for three months. Before being sent to England in 1944, Diamant became an American citizen.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Diamant served as part of the 82nd Airborne Division. His team was dropped eighteen miles off course. He was fortunate to survive, but was captured and taken as a prisoner of war. After attempting to escape, Diamant was shot in the back by his pursuers and survived a potentially fatal shot. He sustained a lumbar fracture from a bullet that remained in his body the rest of his life. He and the other prisoners were rescued in the following days. His wound was enough to send him home where he finally pursued his dream of an academic career studying political science.
Diamant received his A.B. and Master’s in Political Science at Indiana University and later obtained his Ph.D. from Yale in 1957. He taught at the University of Florida (1950-1960), Haverford College (1960-1967), and finally, Indiana University, from which he retired in 1988. At I.U. he served as the Chair of Political Science and the Chair of West European Studies. During his career he earned various awards including the Guggenheim in 1973 and Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship. He is described by his colleagues and students as a tenacious, courteous, and intellectual person who had a keen interest in both his students and colleagues. He was devoted to helping others understand the world they lived in and desired a more just and peaceful world. He had a passion for classical music and fine literature and passed that love of culture to his children Alice and Steve. Towards the end of his life, he suffered from failing vision, but continued to stay informed by book recordings and volunteer readers. Alfred Diamant passed away on May 11, 2012.