When the Soviet Flag Flew Over Lehigh: May 1937

Crowd sitting around flagpole

Roughly 500 bright eyed and bushy tailed “sub-froshes” (prospective freshman) got more than they signed up for on a fateful morning in May, 1937. Apparently, they didn’t see “Communist flag viewing party” in the fine print of their schedules. Also, University admission tour guides must have forgotten to mention the day’s special event.

Students swarmed the courtyard, which, on any other day would’ve meant there was free food, but today it was to gape in disbelief as a Soviet Union flag waved atop the University flagpole.

Believed to be an elaborate prank put on by sympathizers of the communist movement, or perhaps just a couple of goons looking for a good laugh, the flag caused quite the frenzy.

The pranksters had managed to jam the flag’s pulley system so it could not be simply lowered to the ground. Incidentally, the fire department’s longest latter was “too short.” Thus, all hope fell into the hands and spikey feet of a daring steeplejack.

Flag pole safety note
A note advising students not to try and retrieve the flag. It reads: “Note. This pole is in questionable condition. Please do not attempt to climb it. Let’s play SAFE.”

Man holding soviet flag

Thankfully, the steeplejack succeeded in his mission unharmed and once the flag was finally taken down, it was replaced by the glorious Lehigh University brown and white.

The Soviet flag fell into the custody of a Delta Tau Delta fraternity brother, who allegedly hung it up in his room. Yet today, the flag’s whereabouts are unknown.

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