Image of Dirk Struik Indictment Papers Dirk Struik Indictment Papers
Indictment Papers, Dirk Struik, 1951

“They (the faculty) must be free to examine controversial matters, to reach conclusions of their own, to criticize and be criticized. Only through such unqualified freedom of thought and investigation can an educational institution, especially one dealing with science, perform its function of seeking the truth.” – Executive Committee of the Corporation, 1949

Mathematics Professor Dirk Struik’s 1951 indictment sorely challenged that sentiment. The internationally renowned Dutch mathematician had joined the MIT faculty in 1926. Erudite and popular with generations of MIT students, Struik also was an ardent Marxist. He edited several new editions of Karl Marx’s writings that were published in the Soviet Union. In July 1951, he was ordered to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Struik refused to answer any of the 200 questions put to him. Two months later, he was indicted for advocating the overthrow of the governments of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MIT immediately suspended Struik with full pay, and reinstated him five years later when the charges were dropped without trial due to lack of evidence.

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  • An important point was left out that does not reflect so favorably on MIT.
    While his professorship was restored, an M.I.T. panel formally chided Dr. Struik for ”unbecoming” conduct. It rebuked him largely for declining to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and for being less than candid with the M.I.T. hierarchy.

    Elliot Cramer
    30 Oct 13 at 1:16 pm