Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spotlight: Albert and Anne Martin

Spotlight on Albert and Anne Martin

Today, I want to spotlight Albert and Anne Martin. It’s interesting...as we have gone through letters, we have done our best to capture the important people in Opa’s life. We knew nothing about the Martins until we reviewed the AFSC files and here was this Mr. Martin who is the very first person Opa writes to in regard to coming to America, and, with his wife, prove to be some of the most integral people in his emigration. Please note this spotlight is only a snapshot from their lives through some print and internet sources. If you know the Martins, feel free to add more. I have been fortunate in many instances to find living relatives of individuals we have encountered who have added much more to our information, but sadly I have not located the Martin’s relatives (yet!!).  All quotes come from the “Quaker and Nazis” book by Hans Schmitt unless otherwise noted. All other info is pieced together through various other websites and sources.

So, here are the Martins!

Albert P Martin was born in Rhode Island around 1892. Here is an excerpt from Quakers and Nazis:

"A native of Rhode Island, he attended Brown University and then, in 1917, received a Ph.D. in Germanic languages at the University of Wisconsin. After the completion of his studies, he enlisted in the United States Army and was commissioned a second lieutenant in October 1918. His discharge in February 1919 was followed by his marriage to a fellow graduate student: the Quaker Anne Haines, a member of the Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, monthly meeting.” Anne was born in Philadelphia around 1892, a “child of prosperous Philadelphia Quakers”. Anne went to Swarthmore College and then to University of Wisconsin. They were married, but “the years following World War I saw a decline in the number of students of German, and the young husband spent the next eight years in business and farming until he secured an nontenured appointment at his alma mater, Brown University.”
Brown University in the early 1900's
During this time, they had two children, Joseph Haines Martin, born around 1921 and Richard Slater Martin, born around 1927 both in Pennsylvania. Although Anne came from a long line of Quakers, Albert’s parents were “undogmatic Christians”. He decided around 1923 to join the Society of Friends because “it presented to him 'the most intelligent group of Christians [he] had ever met.'”

While teaching at Brown and still active with the Quakers, the Martin’s were approached to take on a position with the American Friends Service Committee in Berlin, Germany. From Quakers and Nazis:

"Just how and why Albert and Anne Martin-who were to spend two years, from 1936 to 1938, in Berlin-were chosen, remains a mystery. It has been claimed that the Oxford Quaker Henry Gillett had met Martin at Pendle Hill in the summer of 1935 and suggested him to the AFSC. Minutes of meetings at which the Martins’ appointment was approved provide no details concerning the origins of their candidacy.”

When Rufus Jones discussed the Berlin appointment with the Martins, the couple readily embraced “the opportunity to support the German Quakers, who were having a hard time under Hitler.” Brown University granted Albert leave for the second semester of 1935-1936, and, after that interim, he did not hesitate to resign his post. The family “parked” their oldest son, Joseph, at Westtown, a well-known Quaker boarding school, and then proceeded with their youngest offspring, Richard, to settle in an apartment in the Witzleben section of Berlin.
Corder and Gwen Catchpool

The Martin’s replaced Corder and Gwen Catchpool, who were appointed to the Berlin Center of the Friends from Great Britain. Joining the Martins was Margaret Collyer from Great Britain. Martin’s appointment coincided with Opa’s oldest years as a member of the “youth group” so Martin would have been fairly familiar with Opa. Also, the Quaker and Nazi book indicates the Martins’ close relationship with Olga Halle, Gis and Anni’s mother, which may be another reason Opa knew the Martin’s well. 

There is much from the book that indicates the Martin’s time there that Sarah may reference later...in a nutshell, Albert had a “no-nonsense, roll-up-your sleeves spirit” in trying to deal with all the Berlin center was trying to accomplish and address at the time. Martin was uncompromising about standing against the Nazi ideology. He was not very hopeful for Germany’s future and was more action oriented when it came to the plight of the persecuted in Berlin. They were diligent in getting political prisoners out of prison and/or out of the country 

Here is what Quakers and Nazi’s says about the Martin’s leaving:

"In 1938, a deeply depressed Martin prepared to leave Berlin. He was not even sure it was worthwhile spending much time for farewells in London, because “we have nothing very cheerful or helpful to say.” But he did call at Friends’ House one last time, in part because Henry Gillett, his original sponsor, had arranged an appointment with the British foreign secretary, Lord Halifax....Martin counseled the head of Britain’s foreign service to make no further concessions to Nazi fanatiscism: a piece of advice his host was no more disposed to follow than would be Neville Chamberlain later that year at Munich."

Upon their return to the States, during the 1938-39 year, Albert went on a lecture tour while Anne became part of a new Refugee Service Committee.

"A new Refugee Service Committee was formed, chaired by Robert Yarnall, and its membership included such seasoned and knowledgable workers as Anne Martin and Gaby Derenberg, a German social worker. Hertha Kraus’s counseling office was moved to Philadelphia and staffed by an assistant to keep the work going on days when she was meeting her classes at Bryn Mawr."

These experiences of both Albert and Anne, and the names Gaby Derenberg and Hertha Kraus, will come up again in upcoming letters. 
Scattergood Hostel in Iowa

The Quakers had built a school in Iowa back in the late 1800's called Scattergood. It closed in 1931, but in the late 1930's, the Friends organization had the idea of opening it up for refugees from Europe. So it became the Scattergood Hostel. It opened in May of 1939. Here is an article from the Iowa City Press Citizen on April 10, 1939:

Expect Refugees at Hostel At Scattergood This Week 
WEST BRANCH -- Six persons will arrive at the Scattergood hostel Friday or Saturday of this week, the nucleus of the 50 residents who will be domiciled by May 1. These first arrivals will include three Americans who will have a share in" the operation of the hostel, and three Germans. They will travel from Philadelphia in the automobile which is to be a part of the Scattergood equipment. Mr. and Mrs. Albert Martin of Philadelphia will be the directors of the hostel, but will not be in residence until May. They have passed the last two years in Berlin as the representatives of the American Friends Service committee. The work of making Scattergood ready for its new role as a refugee hostel is about completed, but the first arrivals will be engaged in decorating and cleaning, and locating the new furnishings in readiness for their followers. 

So the Martin's took the post as directors of the newly minted hostel. Based on a few sources, the Martins’ time at
McMaster University
Scattergood was a little tenuous and by July of that year, Albert Martin had accepted a position to teach at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada teaching German. He taught there from 1939-1961, when he retired. He was also head of the department for a time. He has a bursary at the school named in his honor. I found an article from 1966 indicating that Albert was a visiting professor of German at Kent State, speaking on German development at a fraternity banquet and examining the works of Ernst Wiechert at a lecture.

When reviewing Anni Halle's AFSC File, there is a note on February 27, 1941 which says "It was with great distress that I heard of Anne Martin's death. I knew her well and I can understand how deeply her many friends will feel at the loss of this truly lovable woman." I have no other information on the circumstances of her death, but was saddened to read this as she was not even fifty years old and had been such an active presence in helping refugees. 

We are so thankful for the Martin’s work, sacrifices and intentionality for Opa and for so many others. Again, you will “run into” the Martin’s throughout Opa's journey to get to America, but we wanted to start our spotlights with these important people!

1 comment:

  1. I'm the grandson of Albert and Anne Martin, through their second son, Richard S. Martin. I have a copy of my grandfather's autobiography (privately published), and can copy some pages for you if you're interested. Richard J. Martin. rjmart01 at syr dot edu


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