Friday, February 28, 2014

April 6, 1939: Student Digest, Peace, Love and Refugees

Usually my blogs start with the documents and necessary translations or transcriptions. In this blog- the document is an eight page newsletter of sorts sent to students across America. I just learned a new internet abbreviation this week: TLTR (too long to read). This kind of made me laugh- but in respect of those who get overwhelmed by lots of words- I'm putting my blog post first so you can sort of get the summary first. Then you can read through the document and really absorb it at your own pace. I hope you will- it's a fascinating document. 
You might be wondering why in the midst of letters and professional correspondence - we have a Student Digest from 1939. It was in Opa’s file from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and on page 4 you will find a nice little write up about him and his needs for a school to attend in the USA. This publication was sent out from the AFSC and had more than just refugee services in mind.

This newsletter type publication looks like it was sent to schools (colleges) with active or potential student peace organizations. You will find a wealth of information inside- from current events to an inside look at the perspective of peace-loving folks on the world around them. I spent perhaps a little too much time reading and researching this “Student Digest.” But I couldn’t help myself. With each story and each piece of information- I had to find out more.

It is fascinating. It blows my mind how incredibly little I know about the history of anything. I was talking to a teacher about how history is taught, and how it is very difficult to teach history in a way that gives students a broad knowledge base and a sense of causality. As small as the world is (and honestly, studying history makes it smaller to me everyday) - the information about how humans have interacted over the ages is so vast- it’s impossible to cover it all.

Students in the USA are going to learn an American/Western European centric story-line of our human history, because that’s the story line that seems to affect us most directly- and that’s primarily who is telling the story. However- how can we possibly gain anything from a study of history if all we learn is about a series of dates and events that happened to important people in our neck of the woods? I’m sure every history teacher that reads this will want to jump through the computer screen and smack me- because I’m sure many of them see what they teach as far more than dates and events about kings and queens. And they are right- but for some reason the majority of my recall from history class is a very sanitized and leadership-focused version of what happened. I don’t even think I realized until much later how very messy history is. Even the way we tell the story, or WHO is telling the  story- makes all the difference. There is no such thing as a 100% factually true historical rendering (there are certainly more and less factual versions). What I mean by that is that history is the study of human relationships- and human relationships cannot be completely captured by facts and events. The facts and primary documents are essential to getting the best idea of what happened- but at some point, we have to make a judgment call on what was going on.

All of history is like a big unsolved mystery- some things more easy to guess than others- but there are countless voices and nuances that we’ll never know. It’s fun for me. Part of this project for me is to engage in my own family history, but also to share with others the idea that history is not something that happened in the past to important people. Studying history - our collective story- is essential to understanding our lives today. Why do Americans celebrate individuality so much? How did Germany fall so easily for the hateful propaganda of Hitler? Better yet, what could the US have done to avoid Hitler’s rise to power?

This pamphlet from the Quakers is all about history, all about making decisions now that will start to turn the tide of a history gone wrong. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr made the hard decision to move forward with peace and forgiveness, because they had seen the historical ramifications of hatred and violence. The Quakers (who at this point did not have the examples of MLK and Mandela to draw from) were advocating a new way to write history. They quote Jesus as saying “If thine enemy hunger, feed them.” They likely understood how appropriate this quote was… if Germany were saddled with food instead of debilitating reparation payments, perhaps someone like Hitler would not have had a foothold into the German psyche. Now I understand that things are complicated, and that as of the writing of this student digest- the ship had already sailed on Hitler’s aggression and vision for an Aryan nation or world. It may have been too late… or maybe not. We’ll never know. But it is important for us to think about how we respond to things, big and small…

What I do know is that in the midst of educating its readers about what was going on in the world around them, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) also gave people a chance to do big and small things to help now. One part of the digest talks about refugees of the situation in Europe, mainly German refugees. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll recognize the explanation of the hold-up for American consuls when granting entrance to German refugee students. The refugee students that are still in Germany are basically stuck. But, the digest explains, there are still folks who can be helped within the current political structure. There is then the write-up of a German professor and my Opa, Thomas Doeppner. Opa’s write up actually cracks me up a little bit, and I’m intrigued to see if he saw it or wrote anything about it. I know from stories he has told me that his shorthand abilities were very limited. He was in a jewish version of boy scouts before they were outlawed, but I do love the phrase “enthusiastic boy scout.”

I encourage you to look through this digest and pick out names or events you don’t know much about- look them up online or grab a few books at the library. Trace the timeline in your brain of when certain things happened and how or why they might have something to do with another event in history. Something I learned in my short researching of this digest was about the Spanish Civil War. I had not made the connection in my mind that the Spanish Civil war was directly prior to WW2. I had compartmentalized it to another section in history- my fault entirely, I’m sure I was given the right dates. I had no idea that Nazi soldiers were involved in the struggle. Hitler sent help to the side he wanted to win. The truly mind-blowing moment for me was when I read that Nazi soldiers were a large part of the bombing of Guernica. I remember very vividly the art piece by Pablo Picasso that depicted the horrors of Guernica. This bombing resulted in the deaths of over 300 civilians in Guernica. Picasso’s mural was titled Guernica- and for some reason that image and name has stuck in my head. When I made the connection that Picasso, Spanish Civil War, and Nazis were all converged in this one event: my mind was blown. 

You might be way more knowledgeable than I am and have known all of this. If so- that really is so great- I’m jealous. But I’m sure that there is some corner that you haven’t explored, some connection you haven’t made. So my charge to all of my readers today is this: if you see a name or a quote or some event that you’ve never heard of- look it up. If you hear of some struggle in the news, do some research on the background. Right now isn't a bad time to read up on your Russian history. Pick up a random biography of someone you don’t know about. You won’t find pure facts- but you’ll get more pieces of the story. In celebration of “Black History Month” a friend of mine has been posting quotes and short stories about people of color throughout American history. I have been looking them up, finding out more and learning so much. It’s a nerdy kind of fun- and very humbling. 

The hope is that we can make choices and judgments about current events with a much more informed and open mind. The highest hope is that we are humbled enough to recognize that we just might not know what is right... 

Enjoy the reading! (even if it is "TLTR") I transcribed each page so you don't have to hurt your eyes!

Student Digest
Student Peace Service
American Friends Service Committee
20 South Twelfth Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
April, 1939

U.S. GUN PEDDLAR During the days of the Nye munitions investigation we were shocked by reports on activities of our munitions makers before, during, and after the World War. Reports now being published indicate that we learned little from the lessons taught us then. The United States is once more serving as the arms supply base for countries all around the world. This is shown by the recent report of the Munitions Control Board.

During the past three years our arms exports have risen from $25,000,000 in 1936 to $94,000,000 in 1938. The largest single item is made up of American bombers and fighting planes. During January and February alone we sold $17,000,000 worth of military equipment to France and England. Further large orders are being placed by the  Dutch for the Dutch East Indies, and a Russian mission is now negotiating contracts for naval material.

At the same time we continue our arms expansion program here at home. Apparently, we are to have 6,000 new planes at a cost of about $300,000,000. An interesting little side item is the guaranteeing of 12% profit to the airplane manufacturers. We can't help but compare this with what the farmer and the small business man is able to make on his investment today.

The President is now asking for an immediate appropriation of $14,700,00 to strengthen Panama Canal defense. He is also seeking authority to construct additional locks at the canal at an estimated expense of $275,000,000. Then there is an item of $110,000,000 for the purchase of more army equipment. It looks like this would be approved by both House and Senate without opposition.

At the same time there has been a good deal said about balancing our national budget. We can think of only one way to do this - by cutting military expenditures -- by refusing to enter this suicidal arms race. If we must spend money at such a rate as to make it impossible to balance our national budget, we ought to spend it on something worthwhile, something creative. If for one year we could spend on reconstruction what we are now spending on armaments, the history of the world could be changed.

1. Now is the best time of the year to finance Student Peace Service Volunteers from your campus. Make certain all applications are in soon.
2. Lay final plans for Campus Peace Week. Be sure the culminating event on April 20 is genuinely anti-war.
3. Write one letter each to your Senators and Congressmen urging that our Neutrality Law be strengthened - not weakened.

Address Senators -- Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Congressmen -- House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

 NEUTRALITY  At a recent press conference President Roosevelt came out for revision of the Neutrality Act. He did not go so far, however, as to suggest any concrete plan. Apparently, he hesitates to do this for fear of opposition which may develop. Nevertheless, hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are about to begin and then we can watch for a definite move. The following summary taken from the Christian Century will likely prove helpful to student peace workers as the debate goes forward and as students attempt to influence Washington:

"Twenty-four years ago a major war broke out in Europe. At its start the American people expected to remain neutral. At its close they found themselves completely involved, with 300,000 killed and wounded, a staggering national debt, an enormous pension burden in prospect, and a peace which gave the lie to all the exalted purposes for which they had been told they were fighting. In the light of that experience an overwhelming majority of the common people registered in their hearts one simple vow: Never Again!

"The neutrality law is the legislation by which Congress tried to safeguard this purpose not to be drawn into another European war. It was written after the Senate had conducted a long and detailed examination into the course by which we had been drawn into the war only twenty-two years ago. It consists of seven main regulations or prohibitions. Here they are:

1. The export of arms, ammunition, and implements of war to any belligerent is prohibited as soon as the President has declared a state of war to exist.
2. American vessels are forbidden to carry such prohibited exports.
3. All manufacturers, exporters and importers of arms must register with the government and obtain licenses from the state department for all shipments of munitions.
4. All loans and credits to belligerents are prohibited.
5. The President is given power to put goods other than primary munitions on a special list, which cannot then be exported by Americans but which belligerents may purchase for cash in the United States and take away in their own vessels. This is the 'cash and carry' provision. It expires, May 1.
6. American citizens are prohibited from travelling on belligerent ships. (Remember the Lusitania!)
7. The provisions of the law are extended to apply to civil wars." This provision has failed to accomplish the results expected; i.e. in the Spanish conflict arms have reached France by way of Germany and Italy, while supplies to the Spanish government have been cut off. Many believe that this provision should be repealed.

"Study the provisions of the neutrality law as here outlined and it will be seen that behind every one lies this simple purpose -- to keep individual American citizens or corporations from engaging in activities which might involve the entire country in war.....

"It should be recognized that the substitution of an inclusive 'cash and carry' law for the present statute would undermine the whole purpose of the act about as effectively as outright repeal or the Thomas proposal. For such a 'cash and carry' law, applying to arms as well as goods, would be equivalent to placing American resources at the disposal under all circumstances of Great Britain and her allies, since the sale of the three billion dollars' worth of American securities held by Great Britain would provide her with ample 'cash' to start a war boom here and she alone would have sufficient command of the seas to count on being able to 'carry'."

This lengthy resume is given to help you make up your mind as to the course our government should follow. From now on you can expect some warm debate in Congress over this question. It has already come up once or twice. Senator Capper expressed the opinion of a large body of Americans when he said "Let us insist on strict neutrality. Let us strengthen the Neutrality Act, not weaken it. I say that we have no business trying to settle boundary disputes among England, France, Italy, Germany, Russia and a score of lesser European nations. It is just out of our sphere, no matter who may think we have a rendezvous with destiny somewhere in France." 

DEFEAT FOR SPAIN  As this is written a copy of New York Times lies on my desk. Its leading heading reads: MADRID YIELDS, ENDING WAR; VICTORS ENTER UNRESISTED; REPUBLICAN LEADERS FLEE.

For days we have all known it was coming. A week ago Spanish Republican leaders had fled to Burgos to negotiate a peace. Nothing else could be done. Republican Spain was in utter ruin -- no food for the hungry -- no gas for the cars -- no coal for trains -- no munitions for the guns. Seven million people huddles together in a narrow wedge of country running from Madrid to the sea. Of these seven million, a goodly number are communists jailed by their Republican allies -- five hundred in Valencia, it is said as many in Alicante, and thousands in Madrid. It doesn't take much imagination to foretell their fate.

Thus ends another war -- a war which has been incredibly cruel and wasteful. The cost in lives of thirty-two months of civil war in Spain has stamped out more than one million, nearly five per cent of the population. Complete casualty lists are not available, but military observors estimate more than 700,000 killed in battle, 30,000 assassinated or executed, 15,000 civilian killed in air raids, and between 40,000 and 50,000 have died of disease or malnutrition directly attributed to the war. No figures are available on the number of wounded. This loss of lives is only a percentage of the total cost of this struggle, which has not only failed to make any gains for democracy, but has set democracy back several generations.

A great deal will now be written about what might have been. The United States and other democracies might have been more helpful to Loyalist Spain. Munitions might have been withheld from Italy and Germany. Sanctions might have been involved. A world war might have resulted from the Spanish conflict. We realize there is reasonable ground for a good deal of difference of opinion as to what might have been. Our "might" is projected along a different line. The Republicans in Spain might have refused to resort to arms, might have allowed an unjust election in 1936 to run its illogical course, might have lived on for a few years under conditions which were not ideal, and in the end might have won their liberal struggle through non-violent means.

As it is the Republican cause is lost. Spain is laid waste, at least one generation of liberals is dead, and most of the liberalism has been drained off into the soil of Spain as the blood of heroes has been shed. Truly, "those who take the sword must perish by the sword."

To us there is only one bright spot in this whole dismal picture -- that spot finds its focus in simple homely feeding kitchens which dot the shell-scarred cities of Spain. Clustered about these feeding stations are hundreds of thousands of children, women, and men whose lives have been spared through humanitarian work carried on by Quakers and their allies. At the moment we are feeding half a million people a day. This requires 3,000 tons of wheat a month which gives 24,000,000 rations of bread.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the work is about to begin. As fighting ceases, the Spanish people must once more learn to live with one another. Because the American Friends Service Committee has carried on work on both sides of the line during the struggle, we now hope for opportunity to help heal the scars of hatred which disfigure Spain. Even if we should not be allowed to stay in Spain longer than the summer, we will at least "have given a cup of cold water in His name."

EDUCATORS AND STUDENT AIR TRAINING  We have heard a good deal lately about President Roosevelt's plans to train aviators in a wholesale manner in schools and colleges across the country. Personally, we like the idea of "young America in the air." We don't like the idea of tying this up with the military. There are other questionable features. In a recent letter sent to Congressmen, President Wilkins of Oberlin College says: "I should like to register first of all as strong a protest as I can against the procedure which led to the making of an announcement as to what 'several hundred educational institutions' are to do without previously consulting those institutions. This seems to me to have shown a serious disregard for the simplest principle of cooperation and to assume, on the part of the government, a degree of control over the private educational institutions of the country which the government does not possess, and which, if it existed, would be repugnant to the nature of democracy."

STUDENT STRIKE AGAINST WAR  This year as never before it is important that the student strike against war be in every respect what its name signifies. With so much division of opinion and with so much confused thinking, it is important that we adhere rigidly to a positive peace program and refuse to compromise on the question of violence as an attempted means of achieving ends. We trust that you as a peace worker on your campus are laying adequate plans for the strike on April 20. Last month we sent you a call put out by a number of student peace organizations. You can point your strike through the suggestions made there or you may find helpful the specific action program of Student Peace Service listed below. (Taken from SPS Handbook)

1. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION - Every opportunity should be taken to maintain channels of confidence and goodwill across national boundaries through both governmental and non-governmental agencies and to search out opportunities for friendly service and conciliation.

2. ADEQUATE PEACE MACHINERY - A truly representative League of Nations should be built on the basis of progressive ideals in the interests of all peoples. The United States should become more active in the International Labor Office.

3. BETTER LATIN-AMERICAN RELATIONS - The United States should renounce what still remains of its imperialism in Latin America, and aid in building Pan-American peace machinery on a democratic basis.

4. WORLD ECONOMIC CONFERENCE - The United States should call a world conference to face realistically the needs of the nations with regard to raw materials, markets and currencies, population pressure, standards of living, prestige, and permanent security. Adjustments should be made in terms of the needs of all peoples rather than the selfish interests of the favored few. The Van Zeeland report offers a definite plan.

5. STRENGTHENING OF DEMOCRACY - The United States should make intensive efforts through education and practical action to overcome the failure of our own democracy as a means of meeting the threat of fascism. We should continue active resistance to the armament program, to industrial mobilization, and to militarism in our schools, colleges, and the C.C.C. Attention should be given to social legislation, to the defense of civil liberties, to the extension of the cooperative movement and to the protection of rights of labor.

6. Sane Policies in War Areas - Our armed forces should be withdrawn from war areas and our nationals encouraged to leave when hostilities break out or stay at their own risk. At the same time private agencies should offer help in the form of food and shelter to the non-combatants of both sides.

7. WAR REFERENDUM - People of the United States should be given the opportunity to vote before war can be waged abroad or troops sent to foreign soil.

8. FREEING OF COLONIES AND POSSESSIONS - Immediate steps should be taken to free colonies, or where this is not immediately possible, arrangements should be made for an international mandate system. The United States should give up her extra-territorial rights in China and other countries and grant full freedom to the Philippines.

9. NEUTRALITY LEGISLATION - Our present neutrality laws, although far from perfect, should be invoked at once and maintained until present wars end. No efforts should be spared to strengthen the present law when the opportunity offers.

These nine points or any three or four of them may help to guide you in your positive action.

FROM A FIELD SEC'Y'S NOTEBOOK  Dan Wilson's report of last week will picture for you what these "itinerant peace peddlars" do from week to week:
          625 miles travel
          6 college campuses visited:
           Omaha University  Hastings College
           Midland College   York College
      Nebraska Central  Wayne State Teachers 
          2 student conferences attended:
           Miss. Valley I.R.C. conference,   
           Omaha, Neb.
           Neb. State S.C.M. conference, 
           Wayne, Neb. 
          4 talks given:
           "Volunteering for Peace" "Friends 
           of the World" "Personal Attitudes 
           toward Conflict" "Volunteers"
          18 letters written
          8 addresses heard:
            Kirby Page five times
            J. Donald Kingsley, Antioch 
              College on "Status of England 
              as a World Power"
            Amy Hemingway Jones, Carnegie 
            F.F. Figgures, overseas Secretary
              British League of Nations Union
          25 students interviewed about 
            Volunteer peace work
          20 and more students interviewed 
            about campus peace program and 
            personal attitudes
          5 students interviewed about work 
          1 college president interviewed
          2 college deans interviewed
          4 faculty persons interviewed
          2 ministers interviewed
          1 session with Leon Thomson, state 
            executive peace sec'y
          1 planning committee session for 
            setting up peace emphasis at 
            summer S.C.M. conference
          1 movie
          1 evening roller skating
          1 tired field secretary

MASS MEETING  On April 6, the Keep America Out of War Committee and the Youth Committee Against War are holding a great mass meeting at Manhattan Center, New York City, in honor of those who voted against our entrance into the World War. Jeannette Rankin and Harold Knutson will be among the speakers. Both of them belong on the honor roll for having resisted the war makers in 1917.

Among the many people who deserve special mention for helping to make these conference successful are Marjorie Littell of Cornell College. James Claypool and Eugene Nelson of Augustana Seminary, and Bob Burgess, Midwestern field secretary for Student Peace Service. Both of these conferences have their roots in permanent state-wide organizations which carry on work throughout year. Plans are already laid for the conference gatherings in 1940.

REFUGEE SERVICE  American colleges have responded whole-heartedly to the needs of refugee students in Europe. Barnard raised $1293 for scholarships; Antioch has raised $750; University of California at Berkeley raised $2770 in cash and over $600 in room and board or work scholarships. The Intercollegiate Committee to Aid Student Refugees, 100 East 42nd St., New York City, advises the local committees. International Student Service, 8 West 40th St., New York City, has placed 80 refugees.

In order to obtain a student visa the student must satisfy the United States' Consul that he has a domicile to which he can return or a visa to another country to which he will emigrate after completing his studies. Under these circumstances students from Germany (including Austria and the Czech territory) and Italy have virtually little chance of obtaining student visas at the present time. It may be that consular policy will loosen up a bit; in fact, an effort is being made to influence the State Department in that direction. However, for the time being it is more practical to secure scholarships for students already in the United States.

In the past month the Refugee Service of the American Friends Service Committee has placed six German scholars in academic positions: as special students, "interne teachers," visiting professors or full-time professors. The following paragraphs describe two of the refugees who are trying to get a foothold in America:

In his 33 years of life, Dr. B.---E.--- has accumulated a variety of training and experience. He was born in Berlin; studied in Heidelberg, Paris, Prague; taught in Florence, Italy, and in France; travelled extensively throughout Europe and the British Isles. He is prepared to teach History of Art -- his special field in which he holds a doctor's degree -- French, German, Italian, Latin and Greek. He is also an experienced orchestra and chorus director. Dr. E. --- is now in this country on a visitor's visa.

Thomas Doppner wants to be an engineer. He is especially interested in electrical engineering and hopes to specialize in the theory of high frequency currents. He is prepared to pay part of his living expenses here and to earn the rest if given an opportunity. He knows shorthand and typing. He is now 19 and has found temporary refuge in Holland, but must leave there as soon as possible. His father was manager of the United Press Associations for Holland and Belgium; his mother was a teacher. He has been an enthusiastic Boy Scout and a member of the Quaker Youth group. He likes all kinds of sports, especially water sports.

If you have openings in your school for either one of these men, write to Charlotte Salmon, 20 South 12th St., Philadelphia.

BOK AWARD  Within recent weeks honors have come to Rufus M. Jones, Chairman, and Clarence E. Pickett, Executive Secretary, of the American Friends Service Committee. The $10,000 award was divided equally between the two men. In a certain sense the award was given to American Friends in their capacity as true internationalists. During recent months they have acted as ministers of mercy to thousands of needy war refugees on both sides of the line in Spain. More recently representatives were sent to Germany and America -- a work which will relieve some suffering, and it is hoped, will permanently solve some problems for individuals caught in the trap of race persecution. At the present time the Service Committee is urging the passage of resolutions now before Congress to permit the admission into this country of 10,000 German children beyond the regular quota limit.

EXCERPT  Arthur O. Rinden, Diong Loh, Fukion, China, writes: "Before the war there were perhaps less than half a dozen real 'Quaker style' pacifists in the country, but there is reason to believe that the present crisis is causing much thinking along this line, and that the issue will become more prominent after the cecession of hostilities. There is an FOR organization in China, but it is largely concerned with foreigners. As opportunity has offered, I have spoken a good many times about the Christian attitude towards war as Friends see it, but for the most part it has not appealed to the listeners as a real issue. Others, of course, think of it as an impossible ideal. I think that within the next five years there will probably be a great change in thinking on this matter."

WORK CAMPS  Applications for the six Work Camps to be conducted this summer by the American Friends Service Committee have been coming in quite steadily during the past few weeks, showing an increase in number over the same time last year. All the directors for the Work Camps have now been selected. Educational leadership, as before, will be drawn from regional as well as national sources.

PEACE VOLUNTEERS  In a certain sense this is the most interesting time of the year for Student Peace Service headquarters, interesting because applications are coming in from possible recruits all across the United States. Also, communities here and there are becoming interested in having Volunteer Units.

We are always glad to see past Volunteers applying a second time. Constance Beecher, now in Harrisburg, Pa., worked in Windsor, Conn., in 1936. She is applying again, and some community is going to be lucky to get her. We don't know where she will work -- somewhere between Maine and California. Then there is Francis Paul Burr from Des Moines, Iowa, who applied early last spring but plans failed to materialize. This year he says there is nothing going to stop him. It is surprising the number of foreign born  students who are on the application list. Ellen Jean Rugg is one of these. She was born in India and has seen a lot of the world. She will see a good deal more this summer if the Personal Committee puts a final okay on her application. Another man, Clayton Moore Shotwell, comes from Saratoga, Wyoming. He is now at school in Hastings, Neb. We have not seen Clayton, but if he is as good as his picture and application indicate, he'll make a real contribution to the cause of peace in July and August. So our applications go.

"El PORTAL"  Adolph Hiter's recent seizure of lands in central Europe is nothing less than wanton lawlessness -- so lawless that it reminds us of the days when England and France were over-running Africa or of the days when the thirteen Colonies were pushing their territorial acquisitions westward across America. Aggression now, as ever, is an ugly word, and although in some instances excuses for it may be made, we do not believe it can be justified.

Hitler has undoubtedly become one of the enemies of a peaceable world order. Therefore, we instinctively raise the question as to what we should do. In answer, we find there are two ways of dealing with enemies. One way is illustrated by our recent action in raising duties 25% on all German exports to the United States. This naturally came as a stunning blow to the German people. The new duty, for all practical purposes, shuts Germany out of her potentially biggest overseas market. Of course, there are others who must suffer, too. Germany will likely retaliate. In this the United States has far more to lose than Germany, because last year American exports to the old Reich territory alone amounted to 404,600,000 marks. This is much more than Germany shipped us. True, we are better able to stand a shrinkage in trade than Germany, but even America has her problems. There are many discouraged farmers here and over 10,000,000 unemployed.

We turn now to the second way of dealing with enemies. What did Jesus have to say on this subject? He said, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." The fact that we would consider any other course indicates how far "Christian" America has drifted from the Christian teaching. Sometimes we excuse ourselves on the basis that things are different today. They are, and yet they are not. When Jesus spoke of feeding enemies, he knew what enemies were. A conquering power had laid a heavy hand on his home land. Palestine was a seething mass of hatred. At one time during Jesus' life close to 2,000 Jews had been crucified. Yes, Jesus had hammered out his philosophy of life on a white hot situation. Still he insisted that the only way of overcoming evil was with good. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." 

Insert: "They say to me: If we refuse to fight, we'll all go to hell together. I say to them: If we agree to fight, we'll all go to hell together. We've tried fighting. Are you satisfied with what fighting has done? Let's try not fighting. Let's see what that will do." -- Horace Traubel

Clarence Pickett has recently pointed out that there are three things we ordinarily do to enemies: First, we shout at them; second we starve them; third, we shoot at them. For many months we have been shouting at our enemy Hitler. Now we are entering upon the second stage, that of starving our enemy. This is the implication behind our 25% increase in countervaling duties. Personally, we can think of no more effective method of driving Germany faster and farther to the East. This may eventually lead to a general war. Thus we will have reached the third stage.

We believe that Jesus' way is fundamentally right. No other method will achieve permanent results. No other method will work in the long run. As followers of Jesus, our course is relatively clear-cut. We would not starve Germany; we would feed her. We would not raise duties against German trade; we would lower them. And in the end we would see the bright dawn of a new day in international life, just as surely as Easter dawn followed the darkness of the crucifixion.

Harold Chance, Director

Monday, February 10, 2014

April 5, 1939: Prelude to a Kiss

Original Letter from Opa (Tom) to Gisela Halle

Translation by Rose:

Amstelveen, April  5th, 1939
Dear Gis,
It is great that things will work out. When you pass through Amsterdam, you naturally can stay with us as long as you want. Do write soon, when you will come, because of the Foreign police. (I do not know  what Thomas means by FOREIGN POLICE)
Amsterdam has become a real transfer place for immigrants. Often acquaintances pass through and bring a piece of home, but just as often it is a goodbye forever (for life). Last week Erich Ursell came by and stayed a few days. Unfortunately he was not permitted to come to Amsterdam (because of the foreign police there) but we met up in Haarlem. On Wednesday he left for London and from there to Birmingham. What he will do there, I do not know yet. He told me much about the Group, but sadly nothing good (nothing nice). He was very disappointed in the new J.F.(Junge Freunde—Young Friends). They are so superficial, prejudice against the old Young Friends, he always had the feeling not to be wanted, just as others of the old group. Is that really true? I really cannot understand it, because on the average there are sensible (rational) people in the group.

I want to say something in behalf of Mrs. P. (Mrs. Pollatz), because I believe I denigrated her a bit. Certainly, she sometimes has funny (strange) opinions, and it is a hopeless effort to have a discussion with her because she accepts other ideas only with  smiling pity, or as indignant insult. But one should not forget, that she has helped innumerable people, and does work in Haarlem nobody else could easily do. I believe that one can rightfully call her a real Quaker, in spite of her many faults, more than others, who are great Quakers in theory, but sadly enough in theory only.

I have heard much about your conference, but not what kind it will be. Is it the kind that fell through last year? (in German it actually says “fell into the water”)

From Hans I heard that Anni is ill again. That is really dreadful. It must be the same problem again? I thought she got rid of it for good when she was in Italy. Give her my best wishes and a fast and good recovery. Also many greetings to your parents, Kaethe and Reinhard.

See you soon   

Opa writes just to Gis this time, happy to host her on her way to England. He asks her to write soon about the timing of her visit because of the Foreign Police. The translator isn’t sure what Opa means by Foreign Police. I’m not sure either, but I remember Gisela talking about the police raids and drills. It was my understanding that some of this was akin to your average fire drill- except a little more intense. Perhaps the police were there searching out wanted people? I’m going to need to find out more about this. Either way, the presence of the foreign police is certainly a deterrent for some folks to visit and be out in public. We know from our interview with Gisela that she does visit Opa in Amsterdam on her way to England. This is the visit when they kiss!  But don’t worry- I’ll tell you that story when the time comes.

Opa got to see a decent amount of people as they passed through to other countries. He describes Amsterdam as “a real transfer place for immigrants.” It is sad that there is an understanding that everyone is going away, probably forever: “Often acquaintances pass through and bring a piece of home, but just as often it is a goodbye forever.”  This is especially sad considering how tight knit the Quaker group was.

Opa details a recent visit from a fellow Quaker who had bad news about the new youth group.
Basically, the new young group is a bunch of superficial and judgmental folks. There is some animosity between the old and new group. The old group is feeling unwanted by the younger folks. I wonder what dynamic is happening here. The characters I have met from the old group are great people, but strong personalities. I wonder if that group’s unique bond and personalities are too much for the newer folks. Ah, Quaker drama. Once again, I see signs of the group members mourning the loss of their safe haven, the people and place that they could call home. Kristallnacht and the increasing power of the Nazis has caused a splintering of that sanctuary.

I really appreciate and enjoy Opa’s defense of Mrs. Pollatz. He has talked about her in a way that makes her sound kind of crazy. Opa admits that she has strange opinions and is difficult to have a discussion with, but he focuses in on her actions.  He appreciates her work ...compared to those who say one thing and do something else. That’s pretty powerful if you think about it. Do we focus our energy too much on whether someone is saying the right thing? Do we forget to look at the actions of people and not just the words. Words are important, but if you come across a Mrs. Pollatz ...who do you want by your side, the person who says all the right things, but doesn’t do anything, or a Mrs. Pollatz who is stubborn and challenging in word, but actively works to help people? Opa calls her a real Quaker, even with his critiques in mind.

I’ve noticed that Opa has been insightful about the characters in his life… He has the ability to see the good in people and situations, but not in a pollyanna way. He weighs the frustration of a discussion with someone like Mrs. Pollatz, and sees her good work as a reason to keep investing in her. He was close friends with Anni who is a very strong personality, but sees the good quality in her strength and intellect. Even when critiquing the report, he didn’t say it stunk, but that what occurred was more interesting than the Halle sisters made it out to be. Opa has a funny combination of optimism and realism in the way that he looks at life and people. It’s honest, insightful, and accepting. I don’t know that I ever really noticed this about Opa before. 

I just noticed something else- we have heard about the folks of this time writing to each other in a sort of code to get around the Nazi censors. I haven't paid much attention, to be honest, because I sort of forgot about it. But I wonder if illnesses are always truly "illnesses" as it seems odd that Anni would be "cured" in Italy. I wonder if that is a reference to something. Also- he tells Gisela hello to her parents, and then names them by first name. That also struck me as a bit odd. I may be reading into things- but as he calls Mrs. Pollatz by her formal name, I think it would be strange for him to name Gisela's parents by their first names, and also just to name them at all. Surely Gisela would know who he is talking about when he says "parents." These are the little riddles I may never solve.

Opa signs “See you soon.” Indeed he will see Gisela soon!

Monday, February 3, 2014

March 20 & 23, 1939: Red Tape for Refugees

Original Letter from Jerome Mecklenburger to American Friends Service Committee

629 Forest
Ann Arbor, Michigan
March 20, 1939

American Friends Service Committee 
20 So. 18th Street
Philadelphia, Pa.

Dir Sirs:

This afternoon I was privileged to be able to listen to Mr. Albert Martin of your organization. He had with him a paper entitled "Memorandum to Colleges Interested in Refugee Students". I would appreciate it very much if you would be so kind as to send a copy of that paper to me as well as any similar information you care to send.

I am very much interested in the work which you are doing, and would like to know how best to assist the refugee students.

Thank you very much for your consideration, I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours very truly,
Jerome W. Mecklenburger 

Original Letter from Charlotte Salmon of AFSC in response to Jerome Mecklenburger

March 23, 1939

Jerome W. Mecklenburger
629 Forest
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dear Mr. Mecklenburger:

We are glad to send you the information entitled, "Memorandum to Colleges Interested in Refugee Students". However, much of this information is out of date now. The situation in regard to scholarships and other aid for German students, at present is this: the policy of the American consuls now seems to be against issuing student visaes to Jewish students who will probably not be readmitted into Germany. The American consuls realize that although student visaes are issued supposedly for a temporary period, the students will find that they won't be able to return to their own country. The last few scholarships for which we have arranged have been held up to the point of securing visaes. It may be that the policy will loosen up a bit so we need not abandon altogether the idea of getting scholarships for German students. In fact an effort is being made to influence the State Department in this direction. But for the time being, it is more practical to help students who are already here or who are in some European country to which they would be permitted to return.

We are in touch with a number of refugee students already in this country and are endeavoring to find ways to help them continue their education and so better fit into the American scheme. I enclose stories of a number of students, who have come to us for help.

Sincerely yours,

Charlotte S. Salmon
Placement Worker
Refugee Service

(Handwriting on the letter includes Opa's name: Doppner)

These two letters give me the case of the grrs. Mr. Martin is campaigning for refugees across universities, informing colleges of their unique opportunity to help refugees get out of a dangerous situation and further their studies in America. Remember that the terrors of Kristallnacht (Hitler's organized attack on Jews and their businesses and synagogues) are still fresh in the memory of the watching world. People are still interested in trying to help the Jews in Germany. Imagine how many refugees and schools were matched because of Mr. Martin’s efforts. Each refugee could represent three to four generations of Americans thriving today, like mine. That’s incredible. Then we read the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) response to Mr. Mecklenburger. His earnest search for more information on how to help refugees can indeed help folks, but much less than previously possible. Within four months of kristallnacht, a policy of fear has been thrown over like a blanket, suffocating the desire to help.

This is where the immigration policy drives me batty. Absolutely batty. Once again, it is pretty simple and straightforward: the student visa is intended to grant a student from a foreign country a temporary pass into the USA for the time it takes to earn a degree. Once that student earns their degree, the assumed destination for them is back home. I imagine, as student visas probably work now, that many students found employment locally and moved into work-type visas and perhaps were able to permanently resettle in the USA. But at the basic level, a student visa is meant to be a temporary visa. Although the immigration policy that allowed German refugees to come study in the US had not changed, the “interpretation” of the policy started to change. Consuls who were in charge of approving visas were now interpreting the policy in a way that was extremely limiting to a particular group of people: German Jews. The logic is that these folks no longer were likely to return back to their home country, which made them refugees more than students in search of overseas study opportunities. The reason behind this logic: the American consuls (and the powers that be) were nervous about an influx of German Jews into American society. It was a double-whammy of prejudice. Americans didn’t like Jews that much and were wary of Germans.

So a perfectly capable German student with scholarship money waiting could not leave a country who had viciously attacked people of his/her religion - because they wouldn’t be welcomed back into that country. Hmmm. The way I see it (which is clearly biased): their lives were basically revoked by cowardice. The AFSC is working on lobbying with the State Department to interpret the policy less restrictively. In the meantime, they focus on helping those who have a bit of a loophole: the refugees who are already in the US but in need of scholarships and support, or those in other countries not yet deemed non-returnable. Enter Opa. He’s one of the lucky ones that got out and happened to have a connection in a country not currently under Nazi control. Opa doesn’t realize it, but his luck is time-sensitive. Europe will see the Nazi army very soon.

It hurts to read these words of red tape getting in the way of young German Jews hoping to escape Nazi Germany. What lives were sentenced to death in those offices of the American Consuls? Did they even have a clue? Fear of the undesired Jew, the unpredictable German… Fear often clouds our judgment. Even just yesterday, people responded negatively to a Super Bowl ad because a patriotic song was sung in various languages. How quickly we forget that we are a nation of immigrants, and the only "original" Americans are the Native American Indians. 

Readers, do me a favor and any time you make a decision or judgment call, ask yourself- is fear playing a role here? If it is… give yourself time and space to be brave. You may never know the consequences of that decision.