At age 18, Tom Doeppner was smuggled out of Nazi Germany. He was 26 before he saw anyone in his family again.
Tom was my Grandfather, “Opa.” Cleaning out my Grandmother’s desk ten years ago, I found a small box where Opa had kept letters from his family, written as early as 1938.
When I opened that box, I found a story that I never knew.
This blog tells the story of what happened to Tom and his family in that decade of separation.
Monday, June 1, 2015
Spotlight: Jan Rosenbach Part II
As you may recall, we did a spotlight Part I for Jan Rosenbach. This was to give you a little of his story since he was also in the running for McPherson. At the time, we didn't want to give away his whole story. So I have included below Part I and then you can see in Part II where Jan ends up: Part I
Jan was born in Czechoslovakia on September 1st, 1921. His father was Jewish and his mother, Anna Lorene Rosenbach, born in Moravia, was Aryan. They were involved in the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Czechoslovakia. His father, Franticek Rosenbach, was a state police counselor or inspector. In correspondence, it says he “died suddenly” on March 16, 1939, Jan’s final year of school. Another letter says he “died of nerve-shock when the German troops entered Prague”. This was when the Fellowship Of Reconciliation in Czechoslovakia began helping Jan leave to go to the U.S. In Jan’s file are many letters from the Fellowship working to get him out and settled at a school. Part II
So, as you now know, Jan does not end up at McPherson. In his file, there is one dialogue with Paul Burt, who also had been given Opa’s info as well. Then, on August 4th, 1939, there is a note that Rutgers offers him a scholarship. In November, there is a note where Jan is unsure he can afford the steamship rates and Rutgers has given the funds to another refugee, so that is out of the question.
Then the file skips to May 16, 1940. Jan arrived on the Pennland (the same boat Opa travelled on in November of the year before) and Jan is at Ellis Island with the letter of scholarship from Rutgers for Fall 1939, even though that hadn't been on the table since November of the year before. He is being threatened to be deported because he has no school and no scholarship. In June, you find the AFSC trying to get Rutgers to give him a scholarship for the 1940-41 year or get all his credentials he sent to them because he has none with him. They appeal to Newberry College and University of Delaware. Finally, Rutgers accepts him in for the 1940 year sometime end of June/early July. So he was detained at Ellis Island for over a month. Somehow, he gets an offer from Tufts and accepts and transfers from Rutgers to Tufts in that summer. He ends up staying at his uncle's home in Philadelphia that summer.
Until we posted our blog, this was all I could find out. But we were blessed to get contacted by Charlie Trantanella who is writing a book entitled "Brown and Blue and Greek: A history of fraternities, sororities, and early student organizations at Tufts University". We were able to swap information about Jan. He had some documents that lifted up that Phi Epsilon Pi was the fraternity that helped fund and house Jan during his time at Tufts. Jan went in pursuit of a doctorate in chemistry. The college allowed him to come in as a sophomore. He also went out for the soccer squad. Charlie nor I have found anything else about Jan after his time at Tufts. I haven't found any family either. I will update if any more information becomes available.