Resowing the Seeds: A New Plaque
In 1938, Victor Graham, an alumnus of the university, wrote to Clara Craig, recounting the defacement of the original Schiller Linden tree plaque and inquiring if the plaque had been restored. Craig then wrote to Dean Henry H. Foster in order to answer Graham's question. Foster's reply is kurt, stating, "The plate has been restored to its place. I know nothing concerning its history. Its restoration ought to conclude an unpleasant incident in our university annals." Craig noted at the bottom of the letter, "The plate on the tree is a replacement, not the original plate restored" (Craig, 1938). The whereabouts of the original Schiller Linden tree plaque are a mystery to this day. The replacement was dedicated in 1933, after Fossler's death, in a ceremony presided over by Fossler's life long friend Fred Morrow Fling (Daily Nebraskan, 1933).
Today, the wounds of anti-German sentiment are healed and few recall the loyalty hearings of World War I. The Schiller Linden tree stands proudly on UNL's campus as a testament to Fossler and Lincoln's German community's impact on the development of the university. War, hysteria, and fear mongering led to innocent Americans being demonized and prosecuted. A beautiful symbol of international unity was destroyed out of xenophobia and intolerance. This era in the university's history is an ugly one, but the episode can be used to teach future generations about acceptance.