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.