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.

1 comment:

  1. So many subjects! And I like how he is only "passable" in his native tongue!


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