Almost immediately after gaining power in 1933, the Nazis took steps to force Jews out of civil service jobs, especially teaching positions at universities and schools. A number of them escaped to the United States, where they joined the faculties of American universities.

At a March 18, 1933 meeting of the Senate of Music Department of the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin, Germany’s leading modern composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), who had taught the master class for composition since 1926, was informed that he was no longer wanted at the academy. He fled Berlin two months later and arrived in September 1934 in Los Angeles, where he then taught privately and at USC and UCLA. Among his American pupils was the composer John Cage (1912-1992), a graduate of Los Angeles High School. 

The scientist Albert Einstein (1879-1956), winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, was returning from a trip to Pasadena, California where he lectured at the California Institute of Technology, when Hitler was made Chancellor. Immediately, efforts were underway to remove Einstein from the Prussian Academy of Science. Einstein stayed in Belgium rather than return to Berlin, Germany, where his home had been ransacked by a gang of armed Nazis. He officially renounced his German citizenship and his membership in the Academy, and returned to the United States, where he took a position at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Sciences. Later he was instrumental in warning President Franklin D. Roosevelt about the possibility that the Germans might first develop an atomic bomb, leading to the creation of the Manhattan Project.