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.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
November 17, 1939: Mystery Man is On the Way!
Mystery Man Is Coming Here Soon
Phil Myers Hears Word Of Doeppner,
by Lois Florman
Thomas Doeppner, non-Aryan student from Berlin, due in McPherson last September but delayed by the war, sailed from Holland November 3 on the "Pennland" and was scheduled to arrive in New York City Tuesday, November 14.
The clue is the great Macampus mystery "Where is Thomas Doeppner", arrived in the person of a letter from Charlotte S. Salmon addressed to Phil Myers. Contained is the letter from the placement worker of the Refugee Section of the American Friends Service Committee was a copy of a radiogram from Doeppner.
Miss Salmon said that the "Quakers in Holland helped him with passage money". The letter, dated November 6, also assured that Doeppner would be met at Ellis Island.
Doeppner's radiogram was dated November 3 and reported that he was leaving that day on the "Pennland" which was headed for New York. He explained that his delay was due to the war.
The radiogram enclosed in the letter read as follows:
COPY - November 3, 1939
RCA Radiogram PH 57 VIA RCA AMSTELVEENRANDWYK 26 2 1628 NLT AFSERCO PHILADELPHIAPENN= SALMON LEAVING TODAY ON PENNLAND SCHEDULED NEWYORK FORTEENTH APPRECIATE YOU EXPLAINING MACPHERSON DELAY DUE WAR APPRECIATE MET ABOARD MONEY THANKS DROP IN = DOEPPNER
McPherson campus is on the outlook for Opa, and they found clues to his whereabouts! Opa has been communicating with Charlotte Salmon at AFSC through brief telegrams, and hoping that she forwards the information to McPherson. She has been, to the point contact: Phil Myers. I still love that the point contact for this pertinent information is a college student. Not a staff member or professor, but the college student who has been in charge (with his friends) of all the logistics in getting a refugee student a scholarship and admission to an American school. I don't think I was even remotely that responsible in college.
Generally the Spectator has had pretty good writing and journalism, but this article is a little confusing with weird sentence structure. However, it's still to the point and updates the campus on the whereabouts of their refugee student that they have been long awaiting. Opa, the "Mystery Man" is on the way!