Monday, June 23, 2014

August 13-14, 1939: YES! I ACCEPT!



Dear Phil Myers:

Today we received a cable from Thomas Doeppner with the one word "Accepted". I had previously written him of your offer of a scholarship at McPherson and carefully explained, quoting from your letter, the conditions under which it was offered. In case I did not send you a copy of my letter to him I am enclosing one with this letter. I am really delighted that he is available for I believe that he will contribute a great deal to your college, and certainly it is a wonderful opportunity for hi m.

Now he will need documents to prove that he has been admitted to the college, and that his maintenance will be taken care of while he is in this country. This should be in the form of a letter to him stating that he has been admitted, that he has been granted a scholarship, and giving full details of your arrangement for providing for his room and board. The letter should be written on letterhead paper, notarized and signed by a college official. It might be well to use a stamp or seal of the college if there is one. Two copies of this letter should be sent to him and one to the American Consulate, in Amsterdam, with a covering letter stating that McPherson College is eager to secure a foreign student and that you hope very much that the Consul will grant Thomas Doeppner application for a student visa. Be sure not to use the word Refugee since there must be no question in the Consuls mind but that Thomas Doeppner will be able to return again to Holland, as indeed he is able to do.

It might also be helpful if you, representing the student consul, would write a friendly personal note to Thomas Doeppner assuring him of your personal interest in him and of the welcome that he will receive from the student body. I will write to, and then he will have all these letters to present to the Consul to strengthen his request for a visa. We should send these letters off immediately so that he will have time to get there by the beginning of school. We will arrange to meet him and to help him in any way that is necessary when he first arrives so you need not worry about that. I think that there won't be any difficulty at all, and that we will have him over here in good time.

Thank you so much for your efforts in his behalf. I know that it must have been no easy job to raise the money for his scholarship.

Charlotte Salmon
Placement Worker

P.S. Will you please send me a copy of your letter to Thomas Doeppner so that I will know it has gone and that it will be alright for us to write.

I just love this telegram. Opa keeps it short and simple. Does he accept the scholarship, the terms, the college? Accepted. Does he want to go to school, does he want to leave Europe? Accepted. Does he want to find a way away from Hitler? Accepted.

Charlotte understands Opa perfectly. She relays the message to Phil Myers at McPherson College. She explains to Phil that Opa knew exactly what he was accepting, and she expresses her delight for the joint opportunity of the school and refugee student.

Then Charlotte gets down to business. She requests official documents that will help Opa in his application for a student visa. She is very specific in her instructions, you can almost feel the rubber hitting the road. It is interesting that she advises Phil not to use the word “refugee” in their correspondence to the American consul in Amsterdam. It seems counterintuitive, but the situation is (as I’ve written about here), the less in trouble the student seems, the more likely they are to obtain a temporary student visa. I wonder if the AFSC had a long game here. They probably knew that many of these students would not ever return (or wish to return) to their country of origin.  Or maybe they thought things would blow over? I have a feeling someone had an idea of how to help these students once they were no longer in school and under the protection of their temporary visa status.

Charlotte even asks Phil to send a warm letter of welcome (and to send her proof he sent it!). Her confidence and business-like “get it done” spirit is palpable at the end of this letter. She must have felt so good to have some movement on a case that really had a chance of success.

The most pressing thing at this point is timeliness. The process of getting a student visa must happen quickly, and hopefully with success, in order for Opa to get to school on time.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my exciting and fascinating.....I am so enjoying all the entries on this blog. Thank you so much for sharing....I can go back in time with all that is going on and just visualize all the different scenes and the danger, the reward, the risks, the carefulness, the hard work....yes I know I am digressing...thanks so much for this peak into history.


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