The Eighth Page

Harkness Table Invented by Nazis, Principal Tingley ‘Appalled, but Not Surprised’

What do Harkness tables and Nazism have in common? Apparently, everything. According to R.R. Palmer, one of the world’s foremost scholars in European history, a beloved Exeter icon may soon be recast as a symbol of Hitler, Nazism, and the brutality of Germany’s Third Reich. Palmer, who recently recovered schematics from a World War II-era bunker, noted the similarities after stumbling upon the Exeter website while googling “gymnasiums that resemble a concentration camp.” “It is believed,” Palmer wrote, “that Hitler’s empire was planned and developed around a Harkneitz Table, as he called it.” Following the end of the war, Exeter, which had remained close to Hitler’s Germany, received a shipment of more than seventy Harkneitz tables. “We decided to rename the Harkneitzes as Harkness tables to eliminate the association with Nazi Germany,” said Carl Woodson, Director of Academy Furniture and avid Nazi. “For some reason, our Hitler connection was hurting our reputation amongst New England boarding schools,” he added with a grimace. “Being associated with Hitler never cost me anything. I even think it helped me get this job,” he added. At this week’s All-School Gathering, Dean of Students Dan Morrissey announced Palmer’s findings to the Exeter community. “I was totally, totally, caught off guard,” noted Peter Jenkins, a prep. “At Exeter, we take pride in the way the Harkness method allows everyone to get involved in seminar-style learning. I didn’t think Hitler would be inclined to, you know, discuss ideas and whatever. It’s mad weird.” Lindsey Appleworth, an Upper, was a bit more skeptical. “The Harkness Table was invented by Edward Harkness. If the Nazis invented it, why isn’t it called the Hitler Table?” Principal Tingley met the challenge with uncommon aplomb. In an official statement, he commented that “while [this news] may be discomforting, the plain facts are that the Nazis have had an instrumental role in forming this institution as we know it today. From the dress code to the school Gestapo to our systemic purges of those with failing grades, nearly every policy here has its roots in Nazi Germany. Also, the gym complex was designed to look like a concentration camp.” It is widely believed that Tingley will not order the dismantling of the existing Harkness Tables because of his strong personal convictions. Despite their questionable origins, his feelings are that the educational positives outweigh the moral negatives, when it comes to the question of possibly removing the tables. “Still,” said Jiageng “Ronny” Zhang, “it’s going to be a bit strange now that everyone knows our school is overtly pro-Nazi. Whenever I get asked for my ‘final solution’ in math class, I can’t help but to sometimes blurt out ‘long live the Aryan race!’ or something similar.” Indeed, it appears as if Nazism is on the rise again in Exeter, New Hampshire. “I thought the swastikas carved into the tables were done by delinquent students. Now, I understand that those swastikas are a part of the original design,” said Rick Spitz ’08. The Harkness Tables will remain in use at Exeter.