Anti-War Sentiment Resulted In Bombing
Hoffmann Later Led Group to See Kissinger
The often-violent activism of the 1960s took a new twist at the start of the new decade when a bomb exploded in Harvard's Center for International Affairs (CFIA) in the early hours of October 14, 1970.
Less than an hour after the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) received an anonymous warning about the blast, a bomb exploded at 1:02 a.m. in the desk of U.S. Army Col. Donald Bletz, a fellow of the CFIA.
The CFIA building was empty at the time of the explosion, and no people were injured.
Although the blast blew apart three offices in the CFIA, the overall damage was minimal as no books were lost and no private files were destroyed.
The total damages were estimated by the Department of Buildings and Grounds to be approximately $25,000.
Further investigation revealed that the bomb was made in a cast-iron pipe similar to those used in other bombings in Massachusetts at the time.
The Proud Eagle Tribe, a women's revolutionary group, claimed responsibility for the bombing in a letter published in several newspapers--including The Crimson--on October 15.
"Tonight the Proud Eagle Tribe, a group of revolutionary women, bombed the Center for International Affairs at Harvard," the letter reads. "The Center figures out new ways for the Pig Nixon to try to destroy people's wars in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, and grooms toads like Henry Kissinger ['50], who left the Center to join Nixon's death machine."
While the FBI worked to analyze a partial fingerprint on a fragment of the bomb, the Cambridge police department searched for a suspect but never found one.
Working from descriptions from professors and librarians who had seen several suspicious-looking women in the CFIA the day before the bombing, the Cambridge police had one female suspect under surveillance.
One CFIA librarian reported seeing two women with a metal box that could have been a bomb enter the library on the 13th.
The librarian attempted to reach CFIA Secretary Laurence S. Finkelstein to warn him of the women, but Finkelstein never received the message.
Despite the claims of the Proud Eagle Tribe, Cambridge Police Sgt. James A. Roscoe said at the time that he did not believe the bombing was done by the women alone.
Target of Controversy
After the bombing, the CFIA was increasingly criticized by student groups for its involvement in U.S. foreign policy.
The radical student group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) attempted several times to engage the CFIA in a debate and finally succeeded on January 5, 1971.
"The CFIA helps develop the military strength of reactionary governments to contain popular uprisings and paves the way for foreign investment," SDS spokesperson Ira D. Helfand '71 said in the highly-publicized debate.
Helfand also expressed SDS' desire to shut down the CFIA, accusing it of exploiting working people and peasants throughout the world.
The CFIA was also the target of student protest earlier in the academic year when 20 female radicals entered the building on November 24, 1970.
The group of women spray-painted and postered the walls of the CFIA with slogans such as "Victory to the NLF" and "Off this Capitalist Death."
The Crimson also reported that year that Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France Stanley H. Hoffmann, former head of the Committee on Social Studies, led a group of about 15 students to Washington on December 11, 1970 for a secret meeting with Kissinger, who was then serving as President Richard M. Nixon's national security adviser.
Three of the students, Stephen J. Ellmann '72, Donald J. Gogel '71 and Rebecca J. Scott '71, refused to comment on the meeting.
Ellmann said at the time that Kissinger agreed to meet with the students under the condition that they would not discuss the meeting.
Hoffmann said last month that although it is "not impossible" that there was a meeting, he does not remember it.
"It was not of world-shaking significance," Hoffmann said.
At the time of the meeting, Kissinger was on leave from Harvard, where he served as a professor of government and a member of the executive committee of the CFIA.
Kissinger officially resigned from his Harvard posts on January 16, 1971.