Tuesday, August 25, 2015

March 5, 1940: Is Your Head Spinning?

Original Letter from .. to Mary of AFSC


2333 Hollister Ave.
Santa Barbara California

Narcy 5, 1940 (March)

Dear Mary, 

Your letter today was a great joy, although you have your hands so much more than full with complexities and my own mail from Amsterdam left me sunk for a time -- the workers in our Bureau are so like my own children and I am still so much of a mother-hen about them!

I think that we are perfectly safe about passageway money having come from individuals during the past six months in Amsterdam. I have pretty definite recollection of about 50 cases helped or advised or entirely emigrated within the last six months, and in the case for instance of Thomas Doeppner, I think I advanced the money and was repaid. At any rate, if we have difficulties, wouldn't it be fair to say that I was being reimbursed for the sum which I spent for my own support -- then my own money should be counted as donation for emigration? The last case for which we paid in full was the F├╝rst child, and that sum we paid to the Catholic Com. who made all the arrangements for the family and I am sure were careful to comply with the terms of the law. It is appalling to me to see how traps are being set to prevent emigration or at least how non-co-operation can block us.

A word about our Staff-- Ina Linderman has been very ill, with a bad heart and influenza. She has worked herself almost to the point of a breakdown. I think we must bring her out for she has given her services since last September in this whole-hearted way (wisely and unwisely but always in a spirit of complete self-giving). We have paid her 25 fl a month (a bit over $12.50) and with that she has rented a miserable little unheated room so that she can live in more quiet than she can get at home. I wonder if the Amsterdam Bureau (for she is now a member of the Staff) cannot advance her passage money to the extent of $200 as a salary bonus or something of the sort? We might give her opportunities to earn her return passage if she stays long enough. I have had several suggestions made about her further study after she finishes her Pendle Hill course. "Sep" Horsenail spent a year or more at Hartford Sem. and loved it! One of our Conn. Valley Friends has suggested the Hartford Jr. College for Ina, and a home has been offered her at Mt. Hermon for the summer, where a new baby is expected in July and where she would be a "mothers helper", until college opened. I think on the strength of these possibilities, we might cable from AFSC to advise her to make arrangements to come, don't you? If this met with our Staff's approval, William Eves and I would send a Cable to Piet, authorizing him to draw $200 from our funds for this purpose.

But now what about Trampusches? Robert B. said the papers went over some time ago -- there may be a struggle with the question of his visa but we should advise Margaret Phillipp to consult with Prof. Fryda, before she comes this month, and I am sure they are going to need steering -- could Florence Cook know this for she is interested in them too. By some miracle (Ina's work) our Polish boy is getting off to China also -- that is tremendous relief. But Robert B. says he "can't get anything for Krakauer". Should we try the Jewish Com? We must not let him down -- he almost worships the Quakers, vows he will try to pattern his life after our ideals, and means everything he says -- a very fine character. What next for him? Ina writes that Tomasch whose tragic story I sent you, is getting very nervous with the talk of the "spring invasion". I have written her to try S. Domingo, but we must send funds to get him off (or as we thought) ask the W.I.L. to -- I see his earnest face and pleading eyes whenever I think of our office (which as you can guess is constantly!). I would also be very grateful if someone from your office would get in touch with the Curtis Music School in Philadelphia and speak a word for the application of Prof. Singer whose case we have worked on all this past summer, and who has received an excellent appointment through the Jewish Com. which he couldn't take because the conservatory wasn't an "accredited university". We tried the New School of Social Research because of personal friends, but there was no room for him. He is a musician with a brilliant record and has worked and experimented along the lines of music as psycho-therapy. I don't know if you have any data, but just to recommend him will be sufficient (he has been writing us "thank you" notes and sending flowers all summer). Then there is the case of Dr. Neufeld. Margaret Philipps writes that the Polish quota is only advancing four or five days a month, so his case is almost hopeless unless we can follow Mr. Huestis' suggestion to strengthen his non-quota application through a strong letter from a recognized authority in his field (birth control?) in this country other than Margaret Sawyer (he does not consider her invitation enough). Is your head spinning? I have just one more concern before I close and unpack my suit cases (for I only arrived at my journey's end -- a quiet little apt in a heavenly spot where I can arise at five and get my own breakfast!) Kiek Franken, our Dutch sec. who is untrained as far as office techniques are concerned but the one person who has followed our work from the start and knows every case the office has handled, and whose spirit of service and loveliness of character are an example to the whole Staff -- our Kiek is so seriously ill with the advancing malignant condition that her letter left me in tears. No complaint, but missing me too much (because she talked to no one else). I am going into consultation with a cancer specialist here at the S B Cottage Hosp. to satisfy myself that "the most powerful machine for XRAY treatment in the world" is the only thing left for Kiek. She says it is set up in the cellar and the rays penetrate the floor and reach the patient alone in the room. I am writing Manfred abt her care for he is as devoted to her as I -- her salary must be increased and her work lessened. I know of a lovely person to take Alice's place when she comes to the U.S. I am forwarding Anna's last letter via Robert B. who knows her and thinks we are marvelously lucky to have her as Dutch Assoc. Director. The office is doing fine work so "Bep" wrote before leaving. I am very proud of them.

Love an all gratitude for your good letter.
Yours Affectionately,

P.S. Two Dutch families give about $25 monthly to office budget -- what about that for the emigration fund-- Isn't this all a matter of clearing?

This letter has little to do with Opa specifically, but we found it in his American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) case file. While it briefly mentions Opa in an example of how they've handled passage money (the money it takes to buy a passenger ship ticket)- the letter as a whole gives a fascinating behind the scenes perspective of how the groups around the world are working to help refugees. 

The author, Neary, writes towards the end "is your head spinning?" Yes. Yes it is. The letter is jammed full of stories, names, refugees, heartache, success, failure, emotions, chaos, organization, and passion. Neary has just arrived at her location, and she hasn't even unpacked her suitcases but she has written this two-page letter to do some business and make sure she doesn't forget to mention a half a dozen things. My guess is she wrote herself handwritten notes during her travels and finally got to sit down to a typewriter to get it all on paper.

You can tell all of these folks, the ones in the Amsterdam office, the ones at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) are working tirelessly to do all they can for all the people. Neary says that she can see the faces of those who have asked earnestly her help. She has received flowers and thank you notes just for trying. She knows that many of the people she is working to help have no hope. Yet she continues to work, and she expresses her anger that so many roadblocks have been put in front of those who try to emigrate.

I love her comment at the beginning how she feels like a mother hen about her staff- I get the sense she has travelled away from them in this time, but can't stop thinking about them. Her story about the secretary Kiek who has cancer is heartbreaking. Her grace in the situation: she wants to find her the best possible care, decrease her work load and increase her salary. What a beautiful act of love. 

Then there is Ina Linderman who has been working herself to death- almost literally. And it sounds like she may just be a student-aged young adult. Can you imagine that kind of passion and fortitude? Now the mother-hen, Neary, is making plans to send Ina away to school, to give her the necessary break she needs and try to help her succeed. I this case, she has a worker who has given above and beyond and made near miracles happen with her work.... and Neary wants to reward her with a blessed release and bonus toward her future in school in the United States. Another act of love.

The jumbled stories of all the names and folks tell me some important things... One- that the staff of Quaker agencies around the world knew and cared about every person that needed their help. They dreamed about them and thought about them on the train and boat and walks home. Two- they were pulling every string they could to get these people help, they were calling on every connection they had and trying every obscure plan they could. They were exhausting themselves and all the options to help these refugees. Three- they were all in this fight together, and there was a familial connection in that common fight. 

So behind the scenes of AFSC and other Quaker organizations, I see the names, the stories, and the heartache- and my head is spinning. God bless all of them for their service.

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