Friday, March 31, 2017

November 5 & 19, 1941: Hold the Burden

Letter from Ella to Opa

Diary Entry from Opa's roommate Herb Michael

(I'm going to transcribe the diary entry first, then the letter)

Wednesday, November 19, 1941
323rd Day - 42 Days to Follow

Still another D.E. Lab report is going to be late. I wonder if I can ever possibly get one in on time.

Tom got a letter from his mother today. He was certainly pleased to hear from her. With no letter for about six weeks, he was beginning to get worried. She seems to be all right.

Let this journal entry sink in for a moment. (Besides the fact that it is clear that Herb is struggling with his D.E. class) After hearing that the deportations had started up again in Germany, Opa goes six weeks without hearing from his mother who had planned on writing every week and sometimes would slip to every two weeks. Opa had to have been worried.

Now for Ella's letter Translation:

Thomas Döppner
1119 Kearney
Manhattan Kansas
Droysenstr 14
November 5th, 41

My dear, dear boy,
Today just a short note to let you know I am well. I assume you write regularly as well, but the mail does not seem to arrive regularly, since September 21st I have been without news. Naturally I am troubled a bit, especially since you complained about being tired. Hopefully you are fine now, do you allow yourself enough sleep? Hunschen what does it mean "pep"? You wrote about one of your friends (female) not having any pep, and I don't know that word.
Write to me more often about such special expressions, so I can enrich my vocabulary. I assume you received the telegram from the Quakers, I am waiting impatiently for your answer. You know how much depends on how fast things can be done now. I received a letter from Ellenruth, but she does not write anything personal. Do you know how she is, if she is divorced and has married again? Uschi got engaged to an architect, I don't know any details, because she wrote only about facts. Hopefully she will not torture the guy too much. I am really angry with her, because in spite of several requests she has not concerned herself about Herting. Are you in contact with her?
I will close for today, my boy!
I kiss you lovingly!
Your Mama
Ella doesn't say much in this letter. I'm surprised Opa hasn't sent a return telegram to the Berlin Quakers (maybe there wasn't a prepaid one) to let them know he is working on the Cuba thing, even if it is for show and not a realistic endeavor. I wonder if Ella knows the amounts required. Perhaps she also knows it is just for show. I love how Ella chastises Opa for not writing when she herself has been fairly quiet. Again, mail is slow- and you can see she wrote the letter on the 5th and it arrived in Kansas on the 19th. Considering the war and the fact that Opa is in the middle of the United States, I'm actually impressed it only takes that long. I think they are used to mail being faster though. 

I love that Ella is still learning. She wants to know what "pep" means. Hilarious that Opa used it to describe a woman who had none. Ha! 

Ellenruth and Uschi are Opa's cousins, the daughters of Martha and Erich (who are also still stuck in Berlin). Uschi is in England and Ellenruth is in California. Neither are giving much detail about their lives when they write to Ella. So naturally, Ella is trying to get the scoop from Opa in case he knows anything. Herting is an aunt or someone who lives in England- sort of a lonely duck that no one in the family seems to be concerned about except Ella. She's angry with Uschi for not checking in on her. 

Now we're in that place when no news is not good news. Opa's nervousness about his mother is now at a higher level. It is helpful to have Herb's diary entry, since it gives us a glimpse into Opa's feelings. We know that he is worried, that he is counting the weeks since his mother's last mail. He's doing much of the same that she is doing- although I doubt he chastises her for not writing enough. He must have felt so responsible for her, and yet completely helpless as he had very little he could do. How do you shoulder a burden like that? Like anything else in life that you have no control over- you just hold the burden, and hope for the best.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

November 1, 1941: Nobody Asked You To

Letter fro Annelise Thieman (AFSC) to Opa


November 1st, 1941

Mr. Thomas Doeppner,
1119 Kearney,
Manhattan, Kansas.

Dear Thomas Doeppner: Re: Ella Doeppner-#3340

We have your letter of October 20th inquiring about the Cuban immigration possibilities. You probably have received a reply from the Cuban Consulate meanwhile but for what it may be worth to you I am giving you below the necessary requirements for a Tourist visa to Cuba.

A $2,000.00 deposit must be made with one of the banks in Havana. This could be the branch office of an American or Canadian Bank, as the Chase National Bank or the Royal Canadian.

In addition to that at $500.00 cash deposit and $150.00 in cash must be available in a Cuban bank, the $150.00 designed for payment of passage to the final destination of the refugee and the $500.00 for immediate living expenses. In addition to that the fees of the Cuban attorneys for the issuance of the visa run anywhere from $275.00 to $400.00. Furthermore transportation from Europe to Cuba must be paid, which is approximately between $400.00 and $500.00. The $2,650. deposited would be returned in case the refugee cannot succeed in reaching Cuba. The attorneys' fees would be forfeited in such a case and probably 50% of the passage expenses too.

We understand that it is possible to live on approximately $35.00 a month in Cuba. Arrangements for shelter can be made through the Branch Office of the Jewish agency there, The Joint Relief Committee, Agular 556, Havanna, Cuba. There are a great number of travel bureaus in New York now which are handling these Cuban visa matters. A number of them instead of requesting the $2,000.00 deposit ask for a payment of $150.00 for which they seem to make arrangements with the banks to put up the bond. There is some question though as to the legality of this procedure and one is advised if at all financially possible to deposit the full amounts.

Travelers' Bureaus which we understand are handling these matters are for example: Paul Taussig and Son Inc., 29 W. 45th Street, New York City; Paul Travel S.S. Agency, 79 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y.; Sabine Klueger, Transmaritime Co., 50 East 42nd Street, New York, N.Y.; Hilde Nathan, 19 W. 44th St., New York, N.Y.; etc., and there are many more quite reliable travel bureaus in New York.

Hundreds of Cuban visae, to say the least, have been issued in recent weeks and up to now it has been possible for persons in Germany and some of the German-occupied territories to get out and actually reach Cuba. However, from previous experiences we feel that there is serious reason to fear that Cuba soon may discontinue honoring these visae and therefore no refugee organizations in the country have felt that they could take the responsibility of giving a helping hand to assist with securing Cuban visae directly. Persons who buy these visae should be aware of the fact that they are taking a chance and that they may or may not be successful in getting the refugees actually into Cuba.

In other words we are giving you the above information for what it may be worth to you and we are giving it only because of the fact that for the time being Cuban visae are the sole possibility left for getting people out of Germany. Therefore in case you want to use this way you will have to do it on your own responsibility and in awareness of the fact that this is just another attempt to help your relatives leaving Europe.

Cables and letters have been arriving by the thousands in the United States in recent weeks because deportations to Poland have started again from Germany. If the cable which you received had a prepaid return reply you should somehow try to formulate the answer in the affirmative, for example, say that you are trying to make preparations for immigration, or something of that sort.

You are quite correct in assuming that nothing can be done about your own immigration matters at the present time and you doubtless are correct in thinking that you complicated your problems considerably by refusing to register for military service at a time when nobody asked you to do so.

We were very glad to hear that you are happy at Kansas State College and wish you continued success.

sincerely yours,

Annelise Thieman

This is one of those letters that I need to take in pieces. Annelise had lots to write about! First, Annelise answers Opa's questions about the Cuba situation. You can already tell from the tone of the letter that she is not confident in the Cuba plan, but she gives Opa the information so he has it  completely. 

The reason I think I can discern Annelise's tone is because she starts her information with a bang: he'll need a $2000.00 deposit. Then she adds in all the other fees and costs: deposits in the bank, lawyer fees, living expenses, passage costs, etc. If you add it all up it comes to around $3,000.00. I plugged this amount into three different inflation calculators online and the average estimate was that this would be like having $50,000.00 in cash today to drop in the bank. Um, I don't know about you- but I don't even remotely have that hanging around. My guess is neither do Opa or Ella. 

I wonder if Opa's heart sank when he saw all those dollar signs. It had to have been disheartening to see that this "opportunity" was reserved in most part for the wealthy or well-connected. I don't know if this was the usual requirement  for visitors to Cuba, but I'm going to guess that it wasn't. Was the government capitalizing on being the only opening? Or was this the only way they could justify being the only ones still willing to take in German refugees? A life saved is a life saved, but man! 

Is it just completely out of reach for Opa? And what can he say to his mother if it is? Sorry mom- I don't have enough money to gamble on the last chance for your freedom. 

I think that Annelise is super cautious in informing and advising Opa about this potential plan mostly because she knows there is a very real chance that even if he somehow pulled it off- he could lose it all in a second. The wind could shift and Cuba closes their doors. But for people who can afford it, or at least have nothing left to lose- this is a crack in the window and they're going to try. 

The reason why people might be even more desperate is because news is trickling in that deportations have begun again. I can't remember if I mentioned this in the past blog or not- but I was chatting with one of our fabulous resources at the Holocaust Museum, Becky, (who has a book coming out next year that you all need to buy- don't worry- I'll let you know)... Becky was telling us about how the Germans really declared two wars: one was their military front against Europe (and the world) and the second was against the Jews. Once their military war was in full gear, many fully expected the Germans to sort of lose sight or concern about their war on the Jews. That's why in a previous letter, I think it was Annelise who said that they suspected the deportations would slow and possibly stop. With the consuming war effort, people assumed that the deportations would cease or slow down significantly. But now they have started back up again. 

We have to sort of re-wire our historical brains around deportations. Often when we think of deportation in the frame of Germany and Jews- our minds go directly to concentration camps and gas chambers. While this is ultimately true, in the beginning, and to the rest of the world, deportation is a relocation endeavor by Germans to simply just get the Jews out of their country. So when the folks in the US hear deportation, they hear that Jews are being taken out of their homes, but there still isn't a real sense of where they are being taken. I can imagine people are confused by why Germany would put so much effort into this endeavor when they are fighting a war. So the borrowed time that Jews thought they had to get out of Germany on their own agenda and choice- it's gone. Now the threat of deportation is back in full force again, they are stuck and Cuba is one of the only places left that they can go to. 

Now- what I just mentioned will help explain Annelise's next statements. Even though she does seem to be telling Opa that this Cuba thing is basically an impossibility- she tells Opa to respond to the telegram from Berlin in some affirmative way - saying that he is working on some way to get his mother out of Germany. Here's why: because the Nazis asked the Jews to leave. The impression that the rest of the world is under is that the Nazis want the Jews out- not necessarily dead. At this point, that is still mostly the case. So if a Jew can show evidence that they or a relative is actively working on getting them somewhere with promise,  maybe it'll buy them some time before the government just goes ahead and deports them.

I think that the stress of the job (and I can't even imagine the stress at this point) is getting to Annelise. Because then she just lays it on Opa: 
you doubtless are correct in thinking that you complicated your problems considerably by refusing to register for military service at a time when nobody asked you to do so.
She's mad at him. I get it. I'd be mad too. Here's a boy picking ALL the wrong times to stand by his principles. But then, how can you be mad at him for that? I will say, Opa has been lucky and privileged to get this far in his fight against the Nazis without having to compromise his principles. Even his story about the teacher who allowed him to come to school and refuse to give the Nazi salute - honestly- that was so dangerous and probably not worth it. I am someone who HATES compromising my principles (and honestly have never really been forced to make that choice), but even I know at some point, when the stakes are this high- you do the secret handshake and then get out of dodge. Opa hasn't made that sacrifice yet, and now he's lost a perfectly good affidavit. I suppose that would count as the first thing he has lost by standing firm in is principles, but Annelise definitely does not think it was worth it. I was kind of surprised by her curtness, but I think she is just done. She's not going to sugar coat it for this kid. Stakes are high, things are grim, and compromises may need to happen.

Then she switches back to pleasantries (in whiplash) to comment on how glad she is that he likes school.

For Opa, this was not a fun letter. His new strategy is to buy his mom time by telling the Berlin folks he's working on something that is practically impossible for him to accomplish. In the meantime, if Annelise has anything to say about it- he needs to refrain from making strong decisions that nobody asked him to make.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

October 28, 1941: Protest the Tidal Wave

Diary Entry from Herb Michael, Opa's roommate at KSU


Tom and I have started a program of fasting the period in six days, giving the meal equivalent to F.O.R., and using the time to read literature. Tonight was our second to talk a little and that reminds me of things I want to tell him. It seems that there are always just continuous little things to take time. And I'm always so slow when I do get down to doing something. 

"A.E. machinery alone is pretty nearly enough to give me fits I'll be lucky to get thru it with a "D".

It's pretty hard to keep myself...
(next page ***)

Unfortunately we don't get to see the next page, but Opa has made another appearance in Herb's diary. One that I think his mother, despite her happiness of his character, would be appalled to see. Opa is fasting for a cause- skipping a meal and donating the money to the pacifist organization "Fellowship of Reconciliation" while spending the time reading. Herb enjoys the extra time to chat with Opa, and seems to be frustrated with his classes. 

I kind of like this idea though- to dedicate a time and the resources you usually spend during that time towards a cause. Would I skip a meal? What charity could I support? What literature would I read? I want to do this little challenge! I wish I had read this letter before the start of lent- I might have had this be my lenten practice this year. It reminds me of an article headline I saw in the Washington Post about a woman who stopped watching TV for a year and got her PhD and ran a marathon. I think it is safe to say that if I stopped watching TV for a year I would maybe only accomplish more sleep and a few more books read. 

Either way- this fasting and activism connects me to Opa. What generation does not have some form of protest or organized support towards a cause? We humans continue to band together and try to be better. 

Against a tidal wave of war- there are these two college boys skipping a meal and reading. It gives me a strange hope, even when it doesn't seem to have changed much. I honor their attempt.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

October 21, 1941: Telegram from Berlin Quakers

Diary Entry of Herb Michael, Opa's roommate at Kansas State


Tuesday, October 21, 1941
294th Day - 71 Days to Follow

I felt more like staying home today than I felt like going to school, and so I stayed home.

Except for a trip up to the health center to get another heat treatment. The nose packs, and the heat together kept me weeping, but it felt good.

The cold is getting better.

Tom had a telegram from the Quakers at Berlin. They suggested that the best possible chance to bring his mother over would be to get her first to Cuba. Tom started to work on it.

Letter from Opa to Annelise Thieman of AFSC 


Manhattan, October 21, 1941
1119 Kearney

Miss Annelise Thieman
American Friends Service Committee
20 S. 12th St.

Dear Miss Thieman:   Re: Ella Doeppner #3340

Today I received the following cable from Berlin: Quaker berichten versuche Touristenvisum Cuba als einzige Moeglichkeit fuer Mutter. (Quakers report try tourist visa to Cuba as only possibility for your mother). "Quakers" probably refers to the Friends Center in Berlin. Do you have any information as to this possibility? I wrote the enclosed letter to the Cuban Consul in Kansas City to get some information from him.

As to my status, I am afraid there is not much to be done right now. An application for extension of my temporary stay is pending, but I do not know what to do about my immigration. The lady who was going to give me an affidavit changed her mind when she heard that I would not sign up for military service, if that were requested. I do not seem to be able to find someone else to give an affidavit.

I like Kansas State College very much. I have a job in the college library which, together with the money I made in summer time, pays my way.

I hope to hear from you soon, especially in regard to the possibilities for my mother.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas Doeppner.

Letter from Opa to Cuban Consulate


Manhattan, October 21, 1941.
1119 Kearney St.

The Cuban Consulate
Kansas City, Mo.

Dear Sir:-

I would like to get some information as to tourist visas for Jewish refugees from Germany. My mother, Ella Doeppner, is at present in Berlin, Germany. She has a quota number for immigration to the United States, does not leave any close relatives in Germany, and is 52 years old. I would appreciate if you would send me application blanks as well as other information for a tourist visa to Cuba for her. If there is anything else you like to know about the case, I shall be glad to give you all the information I have.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas Doeppner.

This blog makes me love me some research with primary documents. SO- the last letter from Ella (which we had trouble dating) was about this Cuba thing. As you may know- Opa was not reading Ella's letters in time like we are, but usually about a month later (war time mail is slow). But really- we've gotten to read this thing like it's all happening simultaneously, and we get to read Ella's letter, Opa's letters, the telegram, and the roommate's diary entry about it. SO good. 

Opa got a telegram from the Berlin Quakers (which Ella knew they had sent) telling Opa that the only possibility left for his mother was for him to try to get her a tourist visa to Cuba. Let me give you guys a really brief explanation on why going to Cuba helps her get to the US. First of all- really going anywhere at this point is preferable to staying in Berlin. However, this method of going somewhere first and then ending up in the desired destination is a loophole/trick that has been used since the beginning of the refugee crisis spurred on by kristalnacht and the war. Most countries had immigration quotas (total allowable people from a certain country). So for the sake of explanation, I'm going to simplify and use small numbers. Let's say the US has a policy that only 100 people each year can come from Germany. That number was never all that restrictive before, but now all of a sudden a bunch of people want to come, so there's a line of 500 people, but only 100 per year get in. You're in the back of that line, and you see that the US lets 50 people from Cuba in every year. In general, not that many Cubans are going to the US, so you decide to go stand in the Cuban line instead. SO you get a tourist visa to Cuba (which at this point seems to be easier than getting directly into the US) and you figure, hey, I have a shorter line in Cuba, and if I have to wait- I'm in Cuba- I should be OK.

That's oversimplified- but in essence that is how Opa got to the US. His temporary residency in Amsterdam allowed him to move faster through the immigration process because his line was theoretically shorter. Now once Germany invaded Holland, the story changed. Because Europe is at war- the story is constantly changing. So when someone sees an opening (Cuba's handing out tourist visas!)- they jump at it.

Here's the issue, many of these openings are brief and unstable, and also expensive. Wealthy folks had a much better chance at taking advantage of these opportunities. That's why Hitler's policies of financially crippling the Jews was actually doubly penalizing to jewish refugees. Even if they had previously had the means to get out- they slowly lost their ability to pay their way out. Those who didn't get out early slowly and steadily lost their ability to leave. Ella and her sister Martha fit this situation. Ella was never super wealthy, but she did have the help and support of the Quakers, who it seems were coordinating efforts to help pay for her passage to Cuba.

So Herb told us in his diary about his head cold and treatments, and then the last line of his diary is this unexpected telegram that Opa received from the Quakers in Berlin. Herb said Opa got to work on it- and he was right. Herb's diary entry was October 21st, and the two letters that Opa sent- one to the AFSC and one to the Consul in Cuba - were both dated October 21st. Opa wasted zero time.

His Mom was right- he was doing everything he could. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

October 7 & 10, 1941: Pacifism in the US

Articles in the Kansas State newspaper about starting the Fellowship of Reconciliation Club


Pacifist Program Gets Under Way

The Manhattan chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation will meet at 8p.m. Saturday at the Congregational parsonage, 710 Poyntz. Charles Hall, who is student secretary of the F.O.R. for Kansas, will meet with the group to discuss the purposes of the movement and the problems of organization of the local unit. All who are interested in the pacific program are invited to the meeting. 

The Fellowship of Reconciliation is a world-wide, non-denominational organization of pacifists believing in opposition to all wars and aggressions by methods of non-violent resistance.

Wesley Foundationers tomorrow night at 7:30p.m. Henrietta Ferguson and Warren Cooper are in charge of the affair which will be in Wesley hall, 1637 Fairview.

Organ meditations by Elaine Rohrer and a violin solo by Pat Prather are planned for the Sunday morning church school worship service at the Methodist church at 6th and Poyntz. Phil Brum and Marjorie Rasure will lead games at the fellowship cafeteria Sunday evening at 5p.m., while Areta Boyer and Mike Roller will direct the kitchen force in fixing chicken and noodles which will be sold at four cents a dish.

Charles Hall of Fort Hays State College, student secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, will speak at Wesley League at 6:30 p.m. in the Methodist Church. His subject will be, "Christian Pacifism - The Answer."

Opa has been an active part of this club forming, so it is interesting to see the articles announcing the pacifist club coming to Kansas State. I wonder how this club was perceived, especially with a German on board. When the United States was essentially just biding its time until it committed to the war fully, how passionately did folks feel about this issue? From what I can tell it was a fairly divisive discussion. Obviously, we know what happens in December, when Pearl Harbor is attacked. How man folks who were pacifists turn against their principles? It's a fair question. I'll be interested to see if this club gathers any steam after the US joins the war effort. We shall see!

October 1941: Cuba Possible?

Letter from Ella to Opa


Tom Döppner
Manhattan, Kansas
1119 Kearney
Berlin, Charlottenburg 4
Droysenstrasse 14

My beloved boy, I haven’t written to you in almost two weeks, I was really down, physically and emotionally. So it goes from time to time. But I also hadn’t heard from you in a while. Just the day before yesterday the second letter from Manhattan came (from September 21.) I’m glad you’re settling in well there, which I’m sure the people you know from McPherson are partially contributing to. I’m looking forward to seeing the photo of your room that you mentioned; hopefully it will come soon. 
Even more, I hope some opportunity arises for me to be able to come to you. You got the cable from the Quakers, in the meantime, and I think you’re doing what you can. You’re clear on the urgency, of course. I do think that I’ll be able to pay back the money that is being raised for my passage and an additional stop in Cuba. –Hunschen, it’s very moving that you want to send me money. But please don’t, not to mention that it’s just not practically possible. In the meantime, I got the money that I still had yet to claim, so I’m getting by for the time being. And I do think I will come to you. Naturally I can’t visit Patti. I got a Red Cross letter from her last week. She’s happy, just terribly homesick. When will I see the child again? Hunschen, after getting the cable you put yourself in touch with the Quakers! They always have good advice.   
I’m really worried about you: Hunschen, don’t get sick! Why are you so tired? Why are you getting so little sleep? You have to make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep every day! How are you eating? Do you have enough to eat? Write about it thoroughly! Can you take care of yourself a little, and have you?  The fact that the exam showed that your lungs are working fine calmed me down a little, but if you think you’ll soon get used to getting little sleep, that’s a big mistake. Please, Hunschen, make sure you get enough sleep! Write about it! If only I could take care of you again! –There’s a very nice lady living with me now. She has a 19 year old son, who goes to the technical high school and reminds me so much of you. I ache when they sit so sweetly next to each other and talk about whatever comes to mind. How I would like to be able to do that with you and Patti and also Maurice. Even though I’ve still never seen Maurice, he is as dear to me as I ever would have thought possible. How lovely everything could be if we were together!
Thanks to your roommate for his greetings. I will write to him soon. The Shelleys will also get news from me soon. –That Jürgen is doing well, and that the two of you are in touch, makes me happy.  
You wrote very little about your work, or did a letter get lost between the 5th and 21st of September? In any case, write to me thoroughly about everything. –I can imagine my boy giving the baby a bottle. You’re a sweet boy.
I kiss and hug you, my Hunschen!  
Yours, Mama

Ella is holding on to all hope that she will get to join her son again. She only hears from Patti through Red Cross postcards, a standard method of communication in wartime (a luxury really). Patti is homesick for her family, something that must give Ella a mix of joy and sorrow
It looks like there may be some brief opportunity for passage to the US via Cuba, as Ella seems to be making some sort of plan. It looks like the Quakers are raising money to try to get her passage to Cuba, and Ella is optimistic. She is so sweet about Opa's offer of money as she absolutely refuses it. 
Then Ella goes into her ritual of mothering: "don't get sick" "why are you tired?" "do you have enough to eat?" "get enough sleep!" Bless her- she really can't help herself. She asks Opa to write her in detail about what he is eating and how well he sleeps. HA! I don't know if her complete spiral into nervous mothering is a means of distraction, a way of catching up for lost time, or if she was always like this and nothing has changed. I suspect a little mix of it all. 
Little does she know that Opa's access to food and sleep are probably significantly better than her own. Perhaps that's the standard she's applying, hoping that he eats and sleeps well while he can. Nothing is solid or predictable in Ella's life. 
Ella talks about her roommates (likely a way to save money) and how she envies the mother and son who get to sit and talk about anything they want. It's all she wants.

Friday, March 24, 2017

September 23, 24, 26, 1941: Good Effects

Letter from Rebecca J. Timbres (I think of AFSC) to Brethren Service Committee 


September 23, 1941.

Mrs. Rosa D. Murphy,
Brethren Service Committee
Philadelphia, Pa.

Dear Mrs. Murphy:

In reference to our conversation yesterday regarding candidates for scholarship in the five Brethren Colleges there are several questions I would like to ask.

Re: Manchester College. Have the following students had their scholarships renewed for the year 194142:

Stefan Kaufman - File #3498
Loewenfeld, Eva - " #2324
Ursula Bondy - " #1636
Sabine Heller - " #1052

Is the scholarship for Renate Solmitz - File 4147 -, who is still in England, to be paid out of the $100 or will her $100 be secured after her arrival in America?

McPherson College. Can you tell no whether Thomas Doeppner expects to attend McPherson College or whether he has succeeded in finding a place in an engineering college?

I would appreciate it very much if a list of the Refugee students accepted by the Brethren Colleges be sent me so that I may know how many scholarships are still available for refugees from the total of ten.

Proposals already made to Elizabethtown and McPherson College.

We proposed the name of Oliver Foss to Elizabethtown and have also sent his papers to McPherson College, where we understand there is an excellent department in art, a subject which Oliver is particularly interested. He is the only student we have proposed to two colleges for consideration. Catherina Fruin and Leo Postman have been suggested to McPherson College. We have just received word from Catherina Frun that she is eager to receive the scholarship at McPherson.

(second page)
Mrs. Rosa D. Murphy    -2-     9-23-41

We shall be able to go ahead with further suggestions when we hear from you about the  students you already definitely accepted for the coming year.

We understand that Henry Glade has received a renewal of his scholarship at Elizabethtown for 1941/42.

Sincerely Yours,

Rebecca J. Timbres.
Associate Secretary.

Letter from Rebecca J Timbres (at AFSC) 
to President W.W. Peters (President of McPherson College)


September 24, 1941.

President W.W. Peters,
McPherson College.
McPherson, Kansas.

Dear President Peters:

We have just received word that Oliver Foss has been accepted by Elizabethtown College, so that his application need not to be considered further for McPherson College.

A telegram has just been received saying that Catherina Fruin is very much interested in receiving the scholarship at McPherson, and we shall be very happy indeed, if you are able to accept her. We  are also hoping that you will be able to receive Leo Postman as well.

I wonder if you could tell us the latest new about Thomas Doeppner and whether he will return to McPherson College.

Sincerely yours,

Rebecca J. Timbres,
Associate Secretary.

Letter from W.W. Peters (McPherson College President) to Rebecca Timbres of AFSC


McPherson College
McPherson, Kansas.
September 26, 1941.

Rebecca J. Timbres,

Dear Mrs. Timbres:

I was happy to learn that Miss Catherina Fruin is interested in receiving our scholarship and we look forward to making speedy arrangements to have her with us at as early a date as possible.

I am sorry but we are able to take only one student this year. Mr. Thomas Doeppner has transferred to Kansas State College at Manhattan, Kansas and goes with the highest recommendation from McPherson. Mail would reach him if sent in care of the college.

Trusting you may be successful in locating the folks for whom you are assuming responsibility, I am,

Yours very sincerely,

W.W. Peters.

This series of letters isn't completely isolated to Opa's story, but I think it is important for the larger story. It shows us that the AFSC is in constant communication and cooperation with other service groups and colleges in their effort to place, and support refugees. This particular letter chain is in connection with refugee students who have been accepted and received scholarships from colleges associated with the Church of the Brethren. McPherson is one of those schools. 

Rebecca Timbres (a new name for us) is following up on many students, making sure no one falls through the cracks and confirming that she knows where everyone is and if they are all still receiving needed support. In particular, her correspondence with McPherson is to confirm if Opa has indeed transferred, and if McPherson would be willing to take on two new students this year. 

The new President of McPherson writes back to affirm one student's acceptance and scholarship, he's sad to confirm that they cannot accept the second student. He then tells Timbres that Opa has transferred with the highest recommendation from McPherson.

A few things occurred to me: Opa has set the stage in McPherson for them to embrace and welcome refugee students to their campus. I'm not sure if he was aware of that, but his positive involvement on the campus likely paved the way for several other students through the years to have the same opportunity he had. If he had been in any way ungrateful or even uninvolved, McPherson might not have been so eager to bring another student. 

That reminds me that our decisions not only affect ourselves and those close to us, but could have a lasting affect in other places we may not even realize. I'm grateful for Opa's positive reputation.

I'm sad about the kid that didn't get in to McPherson. I wonder where he was and if he got another school to accept him. At this point, most of the refugee students were already out of Europe and sort of in waiting to go to school or receive support. I appreciate that the AFSC was not an agency that placed people and then dropped them. They followed them as long as they needed the support. That likely saved many of them from falling through the cracks of immigration, not getting financial support, and otherwise becoming a sad statistic. 

Opa has moved on, and left a positive legacy and open possibilities for those who follow in his path.