Wednesday, May 28, 2014

June 20 & 22, 1939: 1st Alternate for Oberlin


Miss Charlotte Salmon
Refugee Section, A.F.S.C.
20 South Twelfth Street
Philadelphia, Penns.

Dear Charlotte S. Salmon:
     The Oberlin committee was very favorably impressed with the records and recommendations of Thomas Doeppner. He stood high in our choice for the scholarships which were difficult to make from so many applicants. We have chosen him, however, for our first alternate. I mentioned to you the possibility of a small scholarship of $200. This would have gone to Thomas Doeppner only the committee felt that as the winners were all in Europe now, it would not be wise to divide our eight hundred dollars among three students.
     There seems to be at present difficulty in securing an affidavit for one of the winners. If this can not be straightened out Thomas Doeppner will be the next in line for the scholarship. In any case as the committee have left Oberlin, all further communications will go through William Seaman, Admissions Office, Oberlin College. Mr. Seaman already knows of our decisions and has the records of all the applicants.
     As you have done all direct correspondence with Thomas Doeppner, I would like you to write him of our decision.

Sincerely Yours,
Helen Mary Forbush
Chairman of Refugee Comm.


Thomas Doeppner
Amstelveen N.A.
Emmakade 8, Holland

Dear Thomas Doeppner:

     A letter has just come from Oberlin College stating that you have been chosen as first alternate for a scholarship at that college. I wish that one of the scholarships might be awarded to you, but at present there seems to be some difficulty in securing an affidavit for one of the winners. I don't understand just what the complications regarding this immigration problem are, but in case the recipient of the scholarship can't come to this country you should be next in line for it.
     I am writing to Oberlin to urge them to let us know as soon as possible if an opportunity does come for you. It might take some time for you to get your visa, but I think that it would be possible for you to get a student visa to the United States. I'll continue to do what I can here, in the meantime, please see that you have all the necessary papers that you will need for getting a visa in case such an opportunity arises.

Sincerely yours,
Charlotte S. Salmon
Placement Worker

Helen-Mary Forbush
5102 York Road
Baltimore, Maryland

Dear Helen-Mary Forbush,
     We are so glad to hear Thomas Doeppner has been appointed alternate for one of your scholarships. I wish that he had received a scholarship, of course, but without meaning to be unduly pessimistic I think that if the two winners are both in Europe there may well be some hitch in getting them over here. I don't know about their situations but I do know that conditions have to be just exactly right before the consuls are willing to grant student visas. I think that Thomas Doeppner would have no trouble because his father is established in Holland. However, you never know what complications you may run into, so if you should find out that one of the other boys can't come will you please let me know as soon as possible so that we can begin to work on getting a visa for Thomas. I have written him of your decision.
     Is Oberlin on the approved list for foreign students? Just now I can't find the list published by the Immigration Bureau of the Labor Department. I don't remember seeing the name of Oberlin College. This is one requirement that must be fulfilled first of all.
     Congratulations on the committee's work. It must have been quite a job, and I know you are glad that it is finished.

Sincerely Yours,

Charlotte S. Salmon
Placement Worker

Noooooooooooooooooo. Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man.

So- basically Opa makes it to the top of the wait list. And in this situation, as honoring as that may be- it's actually quite frustrating.  Logistically- it gets him nowhere. Both Helen-Mary Forbush and Charlotte Salmon have suspicions that Opa could easily bump up as the visa process is so meticulous and ... well ... ridiculous. So the chances that none of the choices get out of Europe are probably just as likely. However, as Charlotte emphasizes, the sooner she can get to work on Opa's visa the better. She can't get to work until she has an acceptance (and a scholarship?? not sure). 

Immediately, Charlotte lets Opa know and encourages him to be ready in case the other refugee students have difficulty getting over and are unable. This must have been a mixed bag for Opa. His latest letter to Gisela revealed that he didn't think he was getting very far in his attempt at going to school in America. This news shows that he may be closer than he thought, and yet still so far away. Was he encouraged? Frustrated?

Charlotte does the diplomatic congratulating of the committee's hard work. She's a smart lady- always keeping the options open. She also asks if Oberlin is on the approved list for foreign students. This is a new one for me. What on earth is that? I did a cursory search and couldn't find anything concrete on this time period (I'm sure it's there- I'm just not looking hard enough), but in the context of the other things I found- I think I have an idea of what this list was. There are currently requirements and restrictions about employing foreign folks in American businesses... so it seems fitting that there are some requirements that a school must fulfill to accept a foreign citizen as a student. More red-tape for the refugees of Europe, but this one seems pretty standard.

So this is kind of a bummer. Opa's most promising lead on American schools is- at best- delayed. But there's some hope- he made it towards the top of Oberlin's list - who knows what other list he'll top!

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