Monday, March 31, 2014

May 11, 1939: Opa Sends his Transcript to Oberlin

Letter from Tom (Opa) to Mary-Helen Forbush at Oberlin College


Dear Miss Forbush,

I have received a letter from Miss Salmon of the American Friends Service Committee that you have been good enough to mention my name as a possible candidate for a scholarship.

I would like to thank you very much indeed and hereby send you an outline of my career and a Photo-Copie of my final examination report.

I take it that you already received by now the letter of recommendation Professor Albert Einstein was good enough to write on my behalf, but I enclose a copy of his letter now. I understand two more letters of recommendation will reach you direct: one from Professor Albert Martin of Swarthmore and one from Mr. Virgil Pinkley, European Business Manager of the United Press Associations of America.

Please accept my sincere thanks for what you are doing for me.

With best regards  

Yours sincerely

German copy of Transcript/Examination Results

 English Translation of Transcript/Examination Results


(High School)
Emser (?) Strasse 50

Graduation Certificate

Thomas Doeppner,
born May 22, 1920, in Berlin,
son of August Doeppner, Editor,

attended the institute for 3 years, one year of which in "Prima" (the highest grade).

General Report:

Physical, character and spiritual zeal deserve full credit.

His Achievements were as follows:

1) German -- sufficient (passable)
2) Latin -- sufficient
3) French -- good
4) English -- good
5) History -- sufficient
6) Geography -- sufficient
7) Mathematics -- good
8) Physics -- good
9) Chemistry -- good
10) Biology -- good
11) Drawing and art -- sufficient
12) Music -- sufficient
13) Gymnastics -- sufficient
14) Community aviation physics -- good
15) Community mathematics -- good

Doeppner passed the final (maturity) examination.

The undersigned board of examiners therefore gave him the certificate of maturity.

Doeppner wants to become an engineer.

Berlin-Wilmersdorf, March 8, 1938

Examinations Committee of the State

(14 Signatures) 

Wow. That is awesome... Opa's school looks tough! He was a good student, and obviously did well in the math and sciences- but it looks like he did alright with languages too. I bet having such linguist around him helped (his mother and sister). I somehow missed the chance to see Opa's school when we visited Berlin, but I found a picture of it online, and next time I visit Berlin- I'll get you a picture with me in it. Ha. Here's Opa's school, it's a beautiful building:


Ok, now on to Opa's letter. This is Opa’s second letter of May 11, 1939. This one goes to Miss Forbush of Oberlin College. Opa also writes this in English, and I think he does a decent job! (His exam scores were right!)

He sends what sounds like a resume, and copies of his final examination report. Remember, this is the Arbitur, passing the Arbitur examination is the highest level of high school education for the Germans. He passed it, which especially qualifies him for college in the USA. (In fact you might remember, my cousin said it would have been nearly equivalent to getting an associates degree in the US.) Opa also sends a copy of the Einstein letter (how many copies did he make?!- Good thing his Dad worked for a newspaper), and he promises two more letters of personal recommendation that are coming.

I mean, if I were Oberlin, I’d accept him! He’s so polite and professional.

The issue at this point is timing, and though he seems to have jumped right to it, who knows how long the mail will take and what time line Oberlin is on.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

May 11, 1939: Opa is on a Roll, and in English!

Letter from Tom (Opa) to Charlotte Salmon at AFSC


Dear Miss Salmon,

Please accept my most sincere thanks for the quick and effective way in which you have taken up and assisted me in my affairs.

Today I have forward an outline of my career and a copy of my report of my final examination of the High-School to the Oberlin College. A copy of my letter and of my career and examinations-ciphers, I enclose hereby.

I understand Professor Einstein's letter of recommendations has been already sent to you direct by his secretary Miss Helen Dukas. I have also asked professor Albert Martin, of 212, Chesterroad, Swarthmore, to send a further letter of recommendation direct to the Oberlin College and a copy of his letter to you. A third letter of recommendation is forthcoming from Mr. Virgil Pinkley, European Business Manager of the United Press associations of America, which will also be sent direct to the Oberlin College. I will send you a copy of Mr. Pinkley's letter as soon as I receive it.

I assume you know that Professor Martin was good enough to write about me to the American Friends Service Committee and that Miss Derenburg has taken it up there. Most probably the two reports have already been incorporated into one.

Thanking you very much again and with kind regards

Yours sincerely

Thomas Doppner

Opa is on a roll now. He writes two letters on May 11th, 1939. This blog covers the letter he wrote to our friend at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Charlotte Salmon. The next blog will cover the letter he wrote to Miss Helen-Mary Forbush at Oberlin, and in good time too! Time is ticking away!

Opa thanks Miss Salmon for her hard work (as he should!) and gives her all the information she has asked for. Yay! Finally! You might notice right away that Opa has written this letter in English, so he must be getting more confident in his English skills. He doesn’t do too badly, although if Opa were alive today- he would be embarrassed to see that he sent anything that was grammatically or any other way incorrect. Opa would correct my Grandmother’s notes. The irony that she was born and raised in America and English was technically his second language has never been lost on me. I say that Opa knew English better than most native English speakers, because he learned it so precisely and with that little inch of perfectionism that he had. My Dad inherited this penchant for correct grammar and spelling and was constantly correcting my papers. I appreciate it- and hope that I would make Opa proud, and that I make Dad proud.

So Opa’s venture into English writing is going fairly well, with a kind note of appreciation and a report of his enclosed documents. He then lists the three sources for his American letters of recommendation, and tells Charlotte that they should all be on their way to Oberlin College.

I’m weirdly proud of Opa in this letter. He takes care of business, gets things settled and communicates effectively in a language that is not native to him. Way to go, Opa!

Friday, March 28, 2014

May 10, 1939: Opa's Version of a Request

Letter from Opa (Tom) to Mr. Martin


Thomas Döppner

    Emmakade 8


Dear Mr. Martin,

May I write to you asking for another favor?

The American Friends Service Committee, to whom you sent my letter of December 13, has written to several American universities, in order to gain my admission to the university or even a scholarship for me. Now Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, has replied that my name is being considered for a scholarship alongside several others. They have asked me to send them my school certificates, résumé, and a few references. Through acquaintances I have obtained a very nice letter of recommendation from Professor Albert Einstein, who, however, does not know me personally. Could I ask you to send a personal letter of recommendation for me to Oberlin College, addressed to Miss Helen-Mary Forbush, as well as a copy to Miss Charlotte S. Salmon, Placement Worker Refugee Section of the American Friends Service Committee?

I would like to thank you most sincerely in advance. I’m sure you can imagine how much help this would be to me, and how much I long to finally be able to begin my studies.

With warmest regards to you and your family,

August wrote Mr. Pinkley a letter requesting a recommendation for his son one day before this letter. It is pretty straight-forward with some cheeky August-isms in it. This is Opa’s version of asking for a letter of recommendation. Unknown to him, Charlotte has already sent a blank for a recommendation to Albert Martin's wife, Anne Martin, (or maybe he knows) but multiple requests won’t hurt.

Opa outlines very nicely that the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has been diligently working on his behalf, thanks to Opa’s (December 13) letter Mr. Martin forwarded them. Now there is some forward movement, namely Oberlin has expressed interest in Opa.

Opa mentions the recommendation from Albert Einstein with some humility and gratefulness, but manages to make a recommendation from Mr. Martin sound better. Mr. Martin knows Opa personally, and therefore Opa thinks it would be beneficial if he could send a personal recommendation to Helen-Mary Forbush at Oberlin and the AFSC.

Opa does the “thank you most sincerely in advance” trick as well (August thanked Pinkley in advance)- but this one sounds a little more genuine to me. Maybe it’s my own reading into it- but I sense a real warmth from Opa to Mr. Martin, where August’s letter to Mr. Pinkley was more of a professional colleague- at the water cooler- feeling.

Opa sends warm regards to the Martin family. I get the sense that Opa is really hopeful, and a little anxious, to set sail for the US and continue with his studies, and his life- which has been rudely disturbed by the Nazi regime.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

May 9, 1939: Charlotte Has a Bad Day

Letter from Charlotte Salmon of AFSC to Howard Jeske at Cornell College


Dear Mr. Jeske:

In trying to choose three refugee students as possible recipients of a Cornell College scholarship I have run into the same difficulties that constantly beset us in the matter of refugee scholarships. First of all, its practically useless to consider any of the many splendid students who are still abroad. Second, the students in this country are for the most part advanced over the American student of the same age, because of the difference in the two school systems. Most of them in whom we have been interested are specializing in chemistry, engineering, medicine, or some graduate study.

I do not have complete records of Thomas Doeppner, although I have asked him to send them. I enclose a recommendation for him that we received recently from Professor Einstein. Thomas Doeppner wants to study engineering, but he has not gotten a college degree, and it would be very valuable for him to take preparatory work before he begins straight engineering. I also enclose some material on a very interesting boy, Jan Rosenbach. I do not have complete information about him since the case was referred only recently, but I'll ask the Fellowship of Reconciliation to send you more material if they have it.

Must you have a young man? I believe I sent you information about Ellen Schelberg, and I know of two other young women already in this country, who have unusually good school records, family background and adaptable personalities. Ellen Schelberg has completed photostatic copies of her school records. Sabine Heller could also get them. Ursula Bondy has traveled about from one school to another so she has no complete school records. She is, however, prepared for college, if not more advanced work. If you are interested in a young woman you can write directly to get the records of the other two girls.

Please let me know if I can give you any more information.

Sincerely yours,

Charlotte S. Salmon

Charlotte sees the writing on the wall and is starting to let people know about it. In this letter, it almost seems like she is giving up. You can hear the discouragement and the frustration. Maybe it was raining outside, maybe she had just learned that yet another student that she had worked tirelessly to help emigrate to America had been rejected by the American Consul for a visa. We don’t know- but it is helpful to remember that these folks, these people who worked day in and out for people like my Opa to have a shot at coming to safety in the US- they were human. They had bad days. They got discouraged. They needed hope. This letter reads almost like a Psalm to me. If you’ve read any psalms from the bible, you’ll recognize in many of them an odd pattern: they’ll start out sort of sad and miserable “woe is me” but somehow, in the next stanza- you’ll find optimism and hope. Sometimes the hope is sort of a bought hope- “You will come through God!” Sometimes it is based on past experience: “You have been there before, and will come alongside us again..” You get the idea.

And don’t we have emotional roller coasters like this? We feel defeated in one moment, but then we trudge on with hope- whether we had to borrow it or we genuinely have it. We move on, knowing that it’s the only way. My son has a book called “The Bear Hunt” when a family goes through all sorts of adventures in search of a bear. Each new obstacle to finding the bear is met with the same repeated mantra: “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, oh no, we’ve got to go through it!” I never really thought about those words and their deeper meaning until now. We will get discouraged, we will get frustrated, life will be hard sometimes. But we’ve got to go through it… Borrowing hope if necessary.

Sorry to get so philosophical. I just hadn’t seen this side of Charlotte before, and it was sort of sobering. I’ve put her up on a pedestal- and seeing her humanity makes me appreciate her all the more.

Charlotte moves forward, giving information about my Opa- who seems to be quite a good fit for the school in terms of age, experience and his own needs. She alludes that she has requested his records and that they should be on their way, but once again, here’s a recommendation from Einstein to chew on while you’re waiting. Not too shabby. She mentions another viable candidate named Jan Rosenbach.

Then Charlotte asks the obvious and good question: how about a woman? She mentions a couple of good candidates who are already in the country but in need of a school and help to stay in the country.

Charlotte signs this letter and sends it on its way. I wonder what Howard thought of the difficulties in getting German Jews out of Germany. Did this outrage folks, or just deflate them? It’s hard to want to help someone and feel pretty powerless in helping them. Likely this was Charlotte’s daily struggle. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

May 9, 1939: From Amsterdam to Pinkley

Original Letter from August (my Opa's Dad) to Virgil Pinkley of United Press


Dear Pinkley,

here is a personal re-quest concerning my son Thomas again.

As you know, he was communicating with the Quakers in America in order to get a university or a college which would be ready to accept him as a student. On the basis of a statement like that, I would have to apply for a visa for him here in Amsterdam.

To get such a statement of an American university requires some recommendations of American citizens. We succeeded in getting Professor Albert Einstein, the famous physicist, to write a very nice letter recommending Thomas. Besides, a leading personality of the Quakers to whom Thomas got acquainted in Berlin, is willing to write the second letter. The third one is lacking. Am I right assuming that VP will be kind enough to write it?

The situation is that just this evening a letter arrived in which the Refugee Section of the American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia, is telling Thomas that the Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, is considering Thomas for a scholarship.

I would appreciate very much if you would not mention the fact that I am UP manager for obvious reasons, but simply tell them, that I am working for the United Press for about five years. Regarding Thomas himself, I should think, that a personal recommendation would be sufficient. Thomas has asked me to assure you that he has decided to prove an excellent citizen of your country later.

May I ask you to send the letter to Miss Helen-Mary Forbush c/o Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, and give me a copy?

Please accept my very best thanks in advance.

With best regards, 

Yours sincerely


Mr. Pinkley is August's boss at the United Press (UP) when August writes this letter. He is partially responsible for August’s happy exit from Nazi Germany (see here when I wrote about him in connection with August).

August writes to Mr. Pinkley, requesting that he write a letter of recommendation for his son, Thomas (my Opa). This letter was found in my Opa’s box of letters, not the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) case files. And wow- it’s kind of amazing to see how much more this letter makes sense in the context of the AFSC files!

We are pretty sure that Pinkley and August knew each other well, and that Pinkley met Opa, and perhaps even interacted with him more than just on a couple occassions. Opa helped his Dad out in the office, and so may have had an opportunity to work with Pinkley or at least show his face to him somewhat regularly. We don’t know exactly the extent of their relationship, but I would say it was more personal than Einstein’s connection to my Opa. Pinkley would be another positive recommendation, as someone who had a good reputation in the publishing/journalism world. So Einstein, Pinkley, and the Martin’s (who were respected in the Quaker community) are Opa’s triumvirate of recommendations. It looks like Opa needed three recommendations from America. I may be a bit slow- but that seems pretty insane. A student in Germany at 18+/- years old is supposed to somehow have personal connections to three esteemed folks in the USA?? How exactly does that happen if you don’t have the neat connections like Opa had? I’m beginning to see just how hard it was for someone to be approved for study in the USA. How did anyone make it?!

A couple of things about this letter stood out to me. In the first part of the letter, August mentions that he would have to apply for a visa for Opa in Amsterdam. To me, the way this is written, it sounds like August has not yet applied for Opa’s visa. I thought by this time Opa was somewhat a legal resident via a visa of some sort. Of course he may have had some other lesser type visa or identification that didn’t count as a visa. Either way, may I say to August in May of 1939- “Get on it!”?

Another part that caught my eye was August’s request that Pinkley not mention August’s position as manager in the UP. He requests it for “obvious reasons” and I’m guessing that he is alluding to the fact that he is financially capable of supporting Opa through his higher level position’s salary. The irony, of course, is that only one year later, when the Nazis invade Holland- August’s thick salary will mean nothing.

I also love this line: “Thomas has asked me to assure you that he has decided to prove an excellent citizen of your country later.” First, I’m sure Opa had no idea what he was talking about. Did he really expect to stay in the USA? Maybe. But it is a sweet promise, and incidentally, one that he upheld in more ways than you can imagine.

August signs off with one of my favorite ways of asking for someone’s help: “thanks in advance.” This assumes that you are definitely going to do what they ask. I kind of love the forwardness of that. This whole letter, from the slightly shifty request to keep his position kept quiet, to the bold request on behalf of his beloved son- it all fits in perfectly with who I imagine August to have been. And it was fun to get another letter from August. We haven’t heard from him in a while.

May 8, 1939: Charlotte Takes a Guess

Letter from Charlotte Salmon to Helen-Mary Forbush at Oberlin


Dear Helen-Mary Forbush:

Since I received your last letter asking for Thomas Doeppner's academic records, I asked him to send them to you along with some recommendations. I hope he will tend to that right away so that you will be receiving them very soon. I will fill out the application blank as well as I can from the information that I have about him. I am sending the white blank to Mrs. Anne Martin, who knows him personally. She is now at the Friends refugee hostel in Iowa.

I don't know just how much money he has, but I should think that he might be able to use the two hundred dollar scholarship if that were available. I'll try to find out more about this. I'm mighty glad that you are considering his application, and if I get any further information about him I'll send it to you right away.

Sincerely yours,
Charlotte S. Salmon

The very same day Charlotte writes her nerve-wracking (in my opinion) note to Opa about the need for his papers and the time-crunch… she calmly writes Helen-Mary Forbush a response. She lets Helen-Mary know that she has alerted Opa to the need to send his transcript, and that she will fill out the application as well as she can. Charlotte also sent a recommendation blank to Anne Martin, who knows Opa and is living in the US (at Scattergood). This is the Martin family that Opa wrote to when he first was looking into opportunities to study in the USA, I talk about them here.

Charlotte then makes a judgment call on the scholarship question that Helen-Mary asked in her last letter. She asked if Opa would be able to come with just a $200 scholarship if he didn’t qualify for the full tuition scholarship of $400. Charlotte takes a guess and says she thinks that Opa could use the lesser scholarship if offered. I’m proud of Charlotte for gambling on this- because if it opens one more door for Opa- it seems like a worthwhile gamble.

She says she’s “mighty glad” that Oberlin is considering Opa and that she’ll get the information to them ASAP. The phrase “mighty glad” dates this a bit- and I love it. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone under 80 years old use that phrase.

So Oberlin is definitely in the running for Opa… will he get the paperwork in time?!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

May 8, 1939: Charlotte's Making Me Nervous

 Original Letter from Charlotte Salmon to Tom (Opa)

Dear Thomas Doeppner:

Oberlin College has written again about your academic record. They are considering a number of candidates, and it may be that they will have to make their decision before your records arrive. In case the Oberlin scholarship is awarded to another student, I'll try to use your records in applying for another scholarship for you.

The Oberlin committee asks that the enclosed forms be filled out by one of your teachers. I have already filled out as best I could an application blank for you, and another recommendation blank was sent to Mrs. Anne Martin.

The letter from Oberlin says, "We would like to know more about the financial support he would be able to get. The scholarship will be for tuition only, so he would have to pay about $400.00 or $450.00 in addition to it. Also I wondered if he could come to Oberlin with a $200.00 scholarship. It may be possible for us to grant this sum to an applicant who may not qualify as highly as those chosen for the tuition scholarships."

Can you let me know whether you will need a full scholarship, or whether you have enough to use a tuition scholarship? It may be possible for you to earn some money in your spare time.

You are probably aware of the difficulty in getting student visas. I enclose a memorandum on this subject. Have you thought about this, and will you be able to establish to the consul's satisfaction, a permanent residence to which you could return? 

Sincerely Yours,
Charlotte S. Salmon

If I were Opa and I received this letter from Charlotte, I would have needed either a pint of ice cream or a glass of wine… or a run around the block. She is stressing me out and I know how this all ends (big picture ending anyway- I’m here).

Charlotte reminds Opa that he needs to send his academic records, and then lets him know the time-table he is on: by the time they receive your records, it might be too late. Well if that’s not a motivator- I don’t know what is. I hope he sent for them immediately! She says that even if the records don’t arrive on time, she can use his records in applying for another scholarship. Again, I’m not sure why she didn’t ask for them sooner- isn’t the whole idea to get Opa into a college (hopefully) on scholarship?

Charlotte forwards the paperwork that Oberlin sent, asking Opa to have a teacher fill it out. So now Opa has to fill out his information, send the form to the teacher to fill out and attach his transcript, and then have it all sent to the USA. In as little time as possible, with no guarantee that it will be on time. Whew. Charlotte is trying to help, she sent the recommendation form to Mrs. Anne Martin (remember her? She’s Mr. Martin’s wife, I talk about them here).

Charlotte also asks Opa the question that I asked, and that he essentially has already answered (it just hasn’t arrived to her desk yet): “can you do without a scholarship?.” Opa was good with money and not afraid to work hard- so I have no doubt he could indeed make it work.

Then in case Opa wasn’t already a little anxious about the quick turnaround needed for the only school (that he knew at this point) who had expressed sincere interest in him… Charlotte goes ahead and asks if he remembers how hard it is to get a student visa. Thanks for the pep talk Charlotte. She even attaches a memo on the difficulties of obtaining a student visa. Motivational poster for the bedroom. I suppose she is trying to make Opa aware of all the bases he needs to have covered in order to satisfy the US consul. As we already know, the US consuls are not easily satisfied these days. The main hang up in Opa’s process (in Charlotte’s mind) is going to be on his ability to prove that he has a permanent residence to which he can return. Perhaps this is Charlotte's subtle way of making sure Opa has established some residency in Holland, with a visa or something official.

Here is where I am going to jump ahead just a little bit to show you something- it’s the privilege we have of being able to look back on history, knowing what happens next. You might remember that Hitler was on the war-path in 1939. On the date of this letter, May 8, 1939 - Opa lives in Amstelveen, Holland- inside the Netherlands. Exactly one year and two days later on May 10, 1940- the Netherlands were invaded and soon occupied by the Nazis. It’s kind of interesting that right now, right this minute the US consul could make a decision to approve Opa’s student visa based on the fact that the Netherlands were a place where Jewish people could live and prosper- therefore Opa would have a place to return to. If Opa had started this process later into the following May, he would have no hope of obtaining a visa. They don’t know this, and he doesn’t know this. I just found it eerie that Charlotte would ask Opa to establish that he would have a permanent residence to return to after school almost exactly one year before the country would be overtaken by the Nazis.

One last random note: Opa’s name. I have now gotten used to seeing Opa’s name written Doppner and Doeppner, interchangeably. I am so used to both those spellings that I didn’t really think about the fact that he had the “new” spelling well before he even stepped foot on American soil. Our legend of our name was always that they didn’t have an umlaut on the American typewriter on Ellis Island, so they threw an “e” in there- sort of a slap-dash fix for Opa who didn’t have enough command of the English language to sound out a better phonetic spelling. Turns out, that can’t be right. He has been using an “English” spelling for a while now. Oh well, that just means he really had plenty of time to drop the “o” so people would pronounce it the way they should “Dep-ner.” Opa, Opa, Opa- you had time to fix it!

Update: So I was rightly corrected by both my Dad's cousin and a blog reader (you can see the comment by Jasmin below).  Here is what Helene wrote (which is almost verbatim what Jasmine wrote!): 
In German, the umlaut takes the place of e and is merely an alternative spelling, e.g. danke schön and danke schoen are equally correct, though I think vowel-with-umlaut more common. The umlaut changes the sound of the "o" to something closer to Deppner, which is how Tom pronounced his name so Americans would have less trouble than with the correct pronunciation. So Doeppner and Döppner were both correct; they were corruptions of the toepfer/ töpfer= potter.  Same with, e.g.,  müller/mueller = miller; umlaut changes sound of "u".
So here is the mind-blowing moment: I've been the one mispronouncing my name. They sound of oe/o(with umlaut) in German just isn't part of our English sounds. So that professor I had in college who pronounced my name correctly but with what I called a "German accent"- he had it more right than I did. 
This is sort of insane to me. I mean- I know it isn't all that unusual- but for the amount of times I corrected people to pronounce my name Dep-ner... I was actually not exactly authentic either. 
And now I am going to ask for the German version of Rosetta Stone for my birthday. It's in August. Or maybe Easter? Yeah- anyone who has a few hundred dollars to drop on some random person- let me know. ;) 
Thank you to my readers and family who keep me informed and learning more every day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

May 4, 1939: Opa Asks My Questions

Opa's original letter to Miss Derenberger at AFSC

Translation of Opa's original letter to Miss Derenberg at AFSC


Dear Miss Derenberg,

May I tell you in addition re my studies:

At my friends' suggestion Prof. Albert Einstein wrote me a letter of recommendation of which I enclose a copy. Prof. Einstein's secretary, Miss Dukas, sent the recommendation to the "Refugee Section of the American Friends Service Committee". She then received this enclosed answer.*

I did not know that Miss Dukas would write to the American Friends Service Committee. The reason for my friends' intervention was only to get a testimonial from Prof. Einstein that my study in America would be desirable. - In order to fulfill one of the conditions that you mentioned in your letter. Now there are two cases in my name at the American F.S.C. obviously.

The answer of the Committee to Miss Dukas mentions a scholarship. As much as I desire this, if it asks for complications it may be better to wait with this question and to concentrate on getting a certificate that I am accepted in a University, that is to say do what you said in your letter is the condition for obtaining a student's visa. It would of course be marvelous if this certificate of being accepted could be united with a scholarship. 

In the recommendation that Prof. Einstein so kindly gave me there is one sentence which may be based on a misunderstanding, namely the sentence that I have already partly finished my studies as electrical engineer successfully. I think that perhaps the German final school examination counts as part of the university studies in America. Apart from this I have really continued working after the final exams privately. But I do not want to create a wrong impression because of this sentence in the recommendation letter.

Thanking you very much for your trouble,

Sincerely yours,

Thomas Doeppner

* Click here for the letter I think he is referring to.

Opa has gotten some sort of list that outlines what he is required to provide in order to obtain a student visa. Obviously the letter of recommendation from Albert Einstein fulfills (to the fullest) some criteria for a voucher of sorts to come from within the United States. Opa seems to be almost embarrassed of his good luck of getting the letter from Einstein. I think he is trying to establish the authenticity and genuineness of the letter.

Then Opa addresses the very questions I had in my last blog (I hadn’t read this yet- I promise!). Thank you Opa! So he basically makes the point that although he would really appreciate a scholarship, if an acceptance to a college is all that is necessary to obtain a student visa- then he doesn’t want a lack of scholarship to hold things up. Basically, Opa is saying - I’ll make it work with whatever you give me - but get me to the US! My thoughts exactly.

Then Opa makes a correction to Einstein’s letter of recommendation, saying that the allusion to his completion of electrical engineering studies is incorrect. Opa has done some private study after graduation, but nothing official. I remember him mentioning that he was taking classes at the local school in Amsterdam, but that he couldn’t afford to take any for credit and pay the tuition.

This whole letter from Opa is about crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s - getting every detail just right so that nothing stands in the way of him getting to the USA. How very German and rule-following of him.