Monday, September 21, 2015

May 23 & 28, 1940: We Have a Plan

Memorandum from Louise Clancy to Kathleen Hanstein


Office Memorandum                    5/23/40
Refugee Service
American Friends Service Committee

To: Kathleen Hanstein     From: Louise Clancy
Subject: Thomas Doeppner

I called the German Consulate this morning and was told that the thing to do was for your office to write to the Immigration Department on Ellis Island in regard to the extension of Thomas' visa. He or you will have to submit full evidence of the fact that he has been a bona fide student and has an opportunity to continue his studies next year. In fact, present all evidence that you have.

Thomas could apply for a German passport from the German consul nearest his present address. Is this the boy who was to go to McPherson College, Kansas? If so, the nearest consul is St. Louis, MO.

Letter from Kathleen Hambly Hanstein of AFSC to Opa


May 28, 1940
Mr. Thomas Doeppner
McPherson College
McPherson, Kansas

My dear Mr. Doeppner:

We have now received definite word from the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Labor to the effect that your visa is a visitor's visa and not a student's visa, and we would, therefore, advise that you write to the Commissioner of Immigration, Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C., asking to have your visitor's visa changed to a students visa for the period covered by the scholarship offered you by McPherson College.

I understand that the college is planning to renew your scholarship for next year, and you should secure from the president of the college a letter addressed to you on the college letterhead stating the period for which this scholarship is offered, and indicating that tuition and maintenance are entirely provided for. Two copies of this letter should be sent to the Commissioner of Immigration with your request and you should have a third copy to keep yourself.

I have been advised that it would also be well for you to ask permission to work during the summer at a job that will provide full maintenance, and in which you will not be taking the place of an American worker. As I understand it, the job that your friends there had in mind for you was a farm job providing just maintenance, and I think this should be specified in your letter. You should also mention the boat on which you arrived in the country and quote the stamp which was placed upon your passport as you quoted it to me in your letter of April 27.

I know you understand that this should be taken care of immediately as the expiration of your present visa is not far distant. If you have any further questions we would be very glad to help you with them in any way we can. Please be sure to let us know what your summer address will be as soon as your arrangements are completed.

Very sincerely,

(Mrs.) Kathleen Hambly Hanstein
Associate Counsellor

I know that no one cares- but this last letter of two pages comprises of nine sentences. Nine. That's all. Those are some crazy long sentences! That first paragraph is just ONE sentence!!

The gist from the office memo and the letter to Opa is that we finally have a plan for Opa- and he needs to get on it quick. He needs to write the INS about his request for a student visa and provide as much evidence as possible that he is indeed a student at McPherson College. He also needs to do it.... well ... yesterday. 

I love that the memo mentions Opa applying for a German passport. I don't know if Mrs. Hanstein purposely left that suggestion out or if she already knew Opa well enough to know that his response to that would have been "Hell No." From what I have gathered- Opa had burned that bridge to Germany the moment he stepped over the border, and had no intention of being legally bound to the country as long as Hitler was in charge.

I'm curious if Opa's request will be granted with his shaky papers (a soon to expire identification paper from Holland, who has been invaded by the Nazis). We'll find out!

I think Opa might be bummed that the farm job is his best bet for the summer. City boy is going to learn something about the great outdoors!

1 comment:

  1. "I know you illegally escaped Germany and if you get a German passport they might try to extradite you, but let's give it a try anyway!" Lol no.


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