Sunday, December 22, 2013

February 3, 1939: Any Way to the USA

Original Feb 3, 1939 Letter to Hertha Kraus at AFSC in America
Translation of the above letter to the AFSC

Translation of letter from Thomas Doeppner
Amstelveen N.A. Ammakade 8.
dated Febr. 3,1939.

     Thanks for your letter of January 12, and I hope that the cure. vitae enclosed will be sufficient. May I request you to assist me to study an American University? I would like to study electro-technic (electrical engineering) and later on specialize in the technic (engineering) of high frequency. My father would be in a position to pay part of the training and living expenses and I am quite certain that I could be able to earn the rest of it myself with whatever work I could obtain. As to the University-if there is any choice at all-I would prefer the cheapest possible.
     You know your self how much it would mean to me to stay in the USA.

German of Opa's "Lebenslauf" aka- transcript/resume (sent with the Kraus letter of Feb 3rd)

Translation of Opa's Curriculum Vitae/transcript, which would have been sent to schools interested in refugees

Translation of curriculum vitae

Thomas Doeppner, born May 22, 1920, at Berlin
Father: August F. Doeppner, Manager of United Press
Associations for Holland and Belgium
Mother: Ella Doeppner (nee Fraustaedter) teacher

     From 1926-1930, I attended elementary school at Berlin-Wilmersdorf, in 1930 I entered Werner Siemens Real-Gymnasium (note: High School) My favorite subjects were from the beginning Mathematics and Physics. In these subjects, I always had good marks. In 1935 the Werner-Siemens Real-Gymnasium had to liquidate and I entered Fichte Gymnasium and passed my maturity ex. in March 1938 At school I learned French (8 years) Latin (5 years) English (3 years) I was a member of a group of students doing special work in mathematics and airplane-technics When I left school I earned a little money with giving lessons and driving a motor boat and I learned shorthand and typewriting.
     I became a boy scout when I was nine years old and was very enthusiastic about it. I was a member up to the time the boy scouts had to liquidate in Germany. I am well versed in all sorts of sports, water sports, (swimming, rowing, sailing)
     Soon afterward, I joined the Youth Movement of the Quakers and after having passed the maturity exam. I worked in one of the executive committees of this movement. 
      From the above you will conclude as to my attitude towards Germany. Besides my mother is a Jewess and this is one more reason for me not to study in Germany.
       I am very much interested in Electro-Technic engineering and would like to specialize in the technic of high-frequency. For this reason it is my greatest wish to attend an American University and to study there. I am interested not only in the electro-technical line but also in the scientific-theoretic basies (foundations) thereof and in its borderlines.

*) practical side of the

Original letter to Werner Fraustaedter in Israel (translation is below)
 Amstelveen, 3.2.1939

Dear Werner,

Thomas received the information enclosed from the Quakers in America. He has responded to it as per the copies likewise enclosed. All the same I think it advisable for you to send résumé and photo, maybe even the information from the Quakers, to Helene D., as it may of course turn out that the Quakers don’t find a university after all, and that then Helene’s boss could secure something. We will provide the character references. What we are missing is the declaration from an American person or institution stating that Thomas studying at an American university is desired. We cannot appeal to Roosevelt, since he is currently too busy protecting his New World from the Old one.

We haven’t heard anything from your father for the last few days, but we hope that he will write for Emma’s birthday – this young girl’s turning 41. That is if he doesn’t surprise us by turning up in person, which is admittedly very unlikely.

Have you anything new in terms of magazines? I have looked over the newspapers you sent me – the news section is still extremely meager, I assume mainly from Reuter. Nonetheless I will talk about it with my Mister Pinkley at my next meeting; I just know we are supplying a paper in Cairo with a mail service.

With fondest regards to you all,

February 17th letter - AFSC's reponse to Opa's Feb 3rd letter
Feb 17th letter with translation


Thanks for your letter of Febr. 3, We are endeavoring to assist you in your request and shall inform you as soon as anything definite has turned up.

In the first letter on Feb 3rd, Opa is responding to the Quaker’s request for information so they can get him started on his college search, and a way into the United States. Opa’s letter is pretty cut and dry: here’s my transcript, I want to study engineering, I’m willing to work, and please let the school be cheap(ish). Final words: “You know yourself how much it would mean to me to study in the USA.” His transcript/resume is attached, and in it he outlines his academic achievements and his best attempt at showing just how much he desires to be studying in the US, away from Germany.
Things are starting to move on the college front, and Opa isn’t just depending on the Quakers to get the job done. August is working all the strings and connections he has...the first documented connection we have is to Emma’s (August’s wife) brother Werner. We will do a spotlight on Werner later, but Werner was a lawyer that had not made a friend in Hitler and had escaped to Israel a few years before this time. Werner was friends with Helene Dukas, who happened to be Einstein’s secretary. The letter overall sounds pretty business­like, and I wonder what August is really talking about. The fact that August does not name Einstein and is a bit vague about the business of magazines and newspapers makes me think he is purposely being vague­ already worried for censorship.
My favorite part of the letter, though, is August’s line “We cannot appeal to Roosevelt, since he is currently too busy protecting his New World from the Old one”. This humor is SO the men in my family, right now residing in my father’s witty mind. It is wild for me to see a little quip like this from my great-­grandfather­ and *hear* it­ just as it was intended, because my own father would say the same exact thing. Is humor genetic? I wonder if August had the same smirk my father has when he delivers these little one-­liners. Opa had a very similar sense of humor, the tongue-­in­-cheek jabs without a lot of fanfare.
So the college search is a go­ and all the paths are being searched. Who will help Opa follow his dreams?

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