Sunday, February 2, 2014

March 11, 1939: Thank You for Being a Friend

Original Letter from Opa (Tom) to Mr. Martin

Thomas Döppner
    Emmakade 8


Dear Mr. Martin,

Thanks to your kind efforts, my America plan has come a great deal further. I received a very nice letter from the American Friends Service Committee which gave me great hope and a lot of useful advice. They also sent me the conditions for the acquisition of an American student visa. The Friends Service Committee is going to try to gain admission for me into a university, for which I have sent them the required documents, like my résumé and photos. In the last few days I have received confirmation of my letter as well as their assurance that they will try to help me.

I would like to express to you my sincere thanks for your efforts. Without your help I would not have come this far. Please also give my regards to your family.

With warmest regards,

I’ve said this before, but it is so fun for me to compare what I envisioned in my head about this part of Opa’s story, and what actually transpired. When I heard/read the story of Opa’s escape to America, I envisioned Opa staying in Amsterdam, stuck in his father’s house for a month or so, reading math books to entertain himself. While part of that is true except that he stayed much longer, Opa’s stay in Holland was much more involved than I realized. He corresponded with friends, made new friends at the local Quaker group, tried every exit strategy and country he could find that would welcome him as a student… He was writing requests for transcripts, pleas for scholarships and visas… He was writing thank you notes. Like this one.

Mr. Martin, Opa’s contact in the US that connected him to the American Friends Service Committee, was the first domino in an encouraging process toward studying in America. Opa’s gratitude must have been ten-fold after hearing discouraging news from France. America was slowly becoming the last option.

Today, I want to thank Mr. Martin, and all the Mr. Martin’s out there who work to help refugees in need of an exit strategy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear feedback! Share your thoughts and your stories.