Author of 'Eternal Treblinka' Returns His Graduate
Degrees to Columbia University to Protest
Its Horrific Experiments on Animals
This week Charles Patterson, author of 'Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust,' is returning his M.A. in English to Columbia University to protest his alma mater's ongoing mistreatment of animals in its labs. It's the second graduate degree he has returned in 2005. Last spring on the day before the Columbia Commencement Patterson returned his Ph.D. in Religion to the Office of University President Lee Bollinger for the same reason.
October 18, 2005 -- This week Charles Patterson, author of "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust," is returning his Master's degree to Columbia University to protest its ongoing mistreatment of animals in its labs.
His M.A. was in English (his concentration was 17th century literature and his advisor was Charles Van Doren). The title of his thesis was "Milton, Dryden and the Epic." It's the second one of his graduate degrees that Patterson is returning in 2005.
On Tuesday, May 17 at 11am--the day before the 251st Columbia Commencement--then Dr. Charles Patterson returned his doctoral degree to the Office of Columbia President Lee Bollinger in Low Library, Room 202, to protest the university's cruelty to animals in its horrific experiments.
Patterson wrote his 320-page doctoral dissertation on "Social Attitudes of Protestant Journals During the Depression of 1893-97" and received his Ph.D. with honors from the Department of Religion in 1970. Since then, he has been a teacher, adjunct professor, therapist, editor, and author of ten books.
His best known book is "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust" (New York: Lantern Books, 2002), which has now been translated and published in Germany, Italy, Poland, Croatia, and the Czech Republic. The book has also been translated into Hebrew and will soon be published in Israel.
Patterson, who is a writer of Holocaust books and reviews, is upset by the cruelty practiced at Columbia by Professors Mehmet Oz, E. Sander Connolly, Michel Ferin, Raymond Stark, and the rest of the Columbia vivisectors.
"Dr. Josef Mengele, who conducted experiments on Jews and Gypsies at Auschwitz (he had two doctorates, by the way) would have fit in quite nicely at Columbia," says Patterson. "To paraphrase Theodor Adorno, the German Jewish philosopher who fled Nazi Germany, 'Auschwitz begins wherever somebody looks at a Columbia lab and thinks: they're only animals.'"
The title of Patterson's book comes from the Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer, to whom the book is dedicated. He was the first major modern author to describe the exploitation and killing of animals in terms of the Holocaust. "In relation to them, all people are Nazis," he wrote, "for animals it is an eternal Treblinka." (Treblinka was the Nazi death camp north of Warsaw.)
Patterson says his book, which examines the common roots of animal and human oppression and the similarities between how the Nazis treated their victims and how our society treats animals, is behind his decision to return his degrees. "I worked hard for my Master's and doctorate," he says, "but the lives of the innocent and helpless are more important than a couple of pieces of paper."
Columbia's attitude toward the exploitation of animals reminds Patterson of what the late AIDS and animal activist Steven Simmons described as the attitude of society as a whole: "Animals are innocent casualties of the world view that asserts that some lives are more valuable than others, that the powerful are entitled to exploit the powerless, and that the weak must be sacrificed for the greater good."
Here is just one very brief glimpse behind the curtain of secrecy at Columbia: "In Columbia's labs, animals are left in cages to die, without veterinary care, after having their eyes removed and clamps applied through their empty eye sockets to restrict the blood supply to their brains."
Patterson believes that one of the most important lessons of the Holocaust is that we must never again remain silent in the face of evil. In the words of Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
After Patterson returned his doctorate to Columbia last spring, he wrote to the members of the Columbia Board of Trustees, but so far neither the university nor its trustees has addressed his concerns.
"Unfortunately, the torture of animals in Columbia's labs seems to be 'eternal.' But perhaps if enough alumni/ae withhold their financial contributions and return their degrees, the university will wake up from its ethical slumber and take action. Had my B.A. been from Columbia College instead of Amherst College, I would return that degree too."
For more information about Columbia's animal experiments visit
"It's a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done." --Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin
Below is a sampling of reactions from around the world to Patterson's book:
"The moral challenge posed by Eternal Treblinka turns it into a must for anyone who seeks to delve into the universal lesson of the Holocaust."
--Maariv (Israeli newspaper)
"You must read this carefully documented book."
--La Stampa (Italian national newspaper)
"Important and timely...written with great sensitivity and compassion...I hope that Eternal Treblinka will be widely read."
--Martyrdom and Resistance (Holocaust publication), New York
"Charles Patterson's book will go a long way towards righting the terrible wrongs that human beings, throughout history, have perpetrated on non-human animals. I urge you to read it and think deeply about its important message."
--Dr. Jane Goodall, United Kingdom
"Necessary reading matter...very thought-provoking."
--Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany
"Eternal Treblinka is an eye-opening, thought-provoking book that I highly recommend."
--The Gantseh Megillah, Montreal, Canada
"Patterson's book sheds light on the violence perpetuated every day against animals and humans alike so that we might one day put an end to it."
--Moment ("America's Premier Independent Jewish Magazine")
"A thorough and thought-provoking book"
--Ha'aretz (Israeli newspaper)
"Compelling, controversial, iconoclastic...strongly recommended...a unique contribution."
--Midwest Book Review, USA
"Eternal Treblinka disturbs us because (inevitably though tactfully) it holds up to us, its readers, a clear mirror to look at ourselves anew...Kafka would have applauded Eternal Treblinka. It grips like a thriller."
--The Freethinker, United Kingdom
"...promises to be one of the most influential books of the 21st century."
--Dr. Karen Davis, United Poultry Concerns
"The book that breaks all taboos. The book that fires up controversies all over the world."
--Prijatelji Zivotinja, Zagreb, Croatia
To visit the website featuring Charles Patterson's book, go to