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Quaker Refugee Projects

          The fates of refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe varied tremendously. The examples offered here suggest important differences as well as similarities between eight residential refugee programs sponsored by British and U.S. American Quakers. While they indicate the sort of reception refugees from Nazi-occupied territories met, they are limited to the case studies for which enough material could be located to merit documenting them and are listed according to the approximate chronology of their existence.


Agricultural Projects

           As of November 1929 the western world found itself in an economic sink hole spurred by the collapse of Wall Street markets. As trade, then industry shrunk to shadows of their pre-Crash selves, a "back to the land" movement attracted interest in several industrialized countries. Mainly, its adherents saw industrial civilization as precarious in its abilities to provide long-term for humans' basic needs and well-being. The radical philosophies of Scott and Helen Nearing in America's urban Northeast or John Seymour in England's Midlands struck resonant chords: they preached agrarian living as a means to achieve spiritual purity as well as material self-reliance; the social ecology they peddled blended small-scale socialism with radical provincialism. Theirs' was a blend of old-fashioned agrarian common sense wedded with avant-garde revisionist philosophy born of over a century of urban-based industrialism. For them agriculture was a return to cultural roots as well as a march forward.

           As a decentralized, non-secular school of thought, the "back to the land" ethic lent itself to Zionist' aims of exciting European Jews to emigrate to what was then British-ruled Palestine. Zionists saw agrarian-based socialism as the key to establishing sustainable settlements in the inhospitable Middle East and thereby re-establishing a long-vanished "Israel". The human brain as well as brawn needed to sprout kibbutzim on "Israeli" soil would have to be cultivated, as European Jews long had been an urbane, commercial people—not tillers of the land. Thus leading Jewish business and cultural figures underwrote the founding of agricultural schools, such as the Halutz project, to prepare Jewish youth and young adults for eventual settlement in Palestine.<1> Meaning "pioneer" in Hebrew, Halutz comprised the largest movement sponsoring such schools. A cross between a Zionist hotbed and a refugee evacuation agency, it organized hundreds of programs and touched the lives of almost ten thousand young Jews.<2>

           In contrast, Quaker-sponsored agricultural projects—while obviously confident that agrarianism could solve problems or offer possibilities which urban culture could not—lacked the religious underpinnings of Zionist hopes behind "making the desert bloom" as a vehicle for rebuilding Israel. Still, that Quaker philanthropists and relief agents alike turned to rural refugee projects suggests that they trusted the land's ability to absorb thousands of "unwanted" persons from Nazi-held territories. Remarkably, they and the Zionists did so virtually from the start of Nazi rule.


Land Settlement, Perpignan, Eastern Pyrenees, France

           In response to the increasingly clear threat the newly installed Nazi governing apparatus posed to individuals not in agreement with it, in summer 1933 the Germany Emergency Committee [GEC] of London Yearly Meetings' Friends Service Council (a relief and reform organization) moved to create a safe haven for the first victims of the Nationalsozialist regime. Two members of GEC donated most of the funds necessary to realize German and French Friends' plans to resettle German refugees in the Eastern Pyrenees.<3> One of the donors went in September of that year to the South of France to investigate the possibilities available. Near Perpignan she discovered a small derelict farm, unoccupied and available at low rent; a resettlement project was seeded.

           Soon after Hitler's Machtergreifung a number of non-Quaker Germans had contacted Friends at the Quaker Centre in Frankfurt-am-Main. After the procurement of property at Perpigan some of those individuals were contacted and in November six Germans—a teacher and his wife, their small daughter and three young men—moved to Perpigan. The teacher—whose pacifism had cost him his job—leased the land on the group's behalf and received grants for rent, for initial stock or equipment and for maintenance till harvest. As the teacher had "a keen sense of service and hoped to build a community which would play an active part in the social life of the district", the initial settlers agreed to run their community as a cooperative and soon won the friendship of their neighbors. The village curι lent them furnished accommodation while they put the farmhouse in order and helped them in other ways; at Christmas they joined in local festivities, singing French or German songs with locals.<4>

           By the end of that first year the farmhouse became "passably habitable" and a group of eight people moved in. As the farm included enough pasture for some 50 goats and a few cows, and as a good market existed for milk, butter or cheese, the group decided to run a dairy. In also it grew fruits and vegetables for the household. Under the schoolteacher's leadership, the settlement's residents set to work "with great energy and determination" clearing scrub and a neighbor plowed the fields in return for use of fodderland. The settlers sowed seeds and planted fruit trees and bought initial livestock, including a mule for transport. Within months the farm had improved "beyond all knowledge"; the refugees soon realized that, after further improvement, it might be difficult to renew the lease and they might find themselves homeless, so in September 1934 the main donor—a British female doctor—purchased the farm, in effect as a trust.

           The settlement, however, was not without its troubles. The three young men soon left, as "they were not fitted for the life there". The activist agency L'Entr'Aide chose others to fill their places, but had difficulty in obtaining work permits for them and arbitrary expulsions from France being carried out by French authorities at that time caused further loss of workers. By February 1935 the schoolteacher was the only man on the farm; during that month an epidemic among the goats killed all the kids. In March another refugee arrived and later that year two parties of English schoolboys came to work briefly—in the summer months, though, the farm really needed four men to get through all the work. Despite personnel problems, in autumn 1935 the farm was able to feed the four people living there-until, that is, during the winter the wholesale price of milk fell sharply and "further subsidization" was necessary. The following autumn doubt arose whether the settlement could be self-supporting, so the core group made a "radical change", converted the mixed farm into a fruit farm occupied by the schoolteachers' family and planted 500 new fruit trees. Situated amidst "lovely country", they also made a modest income by accommodating visitors and providing camping sites; that enterprise was developed along with the fruit-growing: "Soon the prospects began to look brighter".<5>

           Until, that is, war erupted. At that point the family undertook housing and teaching refugee children sent to them by French and American Quakers, a task in which they were "well qualified and...very successful".<6> While the settlement succeeded in cultivating amiable relations with its neighbors, the degree to which the refugees who lived there were able to integrate into the local milieu, however, depended on external forces. After war broke out in Europe, agriculturally based refugee projects in general assumed new, complicated characteristics.


Holwell Hyde

           Disproportionately involved in the German refugee crisis, British Quakers sought to relieve as well as rehabilitate those coming to them for assistance. Of primary need was shelter—before any effort could be made of helping exiles from the Continent plant new lives on British soil. Toward that end Friends founded numerous small refugee centers. Most were temporary and limited in scope; the three substantial ones included here represent British Friends' efforts at running residential refugee programs. The first, Holwell Hyde near Hatfield, consisted of an 11-acre farm with a house, a cottage and a separate recreation facility operated by the Friends Committee for Refugees and Aliens [FCRA—formerly known as the German Emergency Committee]. Its primary goal was to provide individuals fleeing broken lives on the Continent with the means of supporting themselves in Britain. Given language as well as professional barriers to establishing careers in wartime Britain, Friends pinned their hopes as well as the refugees' futures on agricultural employment.

           Before war broke out, Franciscans had used the site to house vagrants, who had worked on the farm. Under war-time conditions, however, "these people had ceased to exist as a class".<7> In March 1940 FCRA assumed control of the site's implements, fodder and a modest assembly of livestock. It also kept the previous wardens to run the place as an agricultural training center for about 20 persons. Holwell Hyde lent itself to such a use, as it already was under cultivation and in neighboring towns existed a "good market" for fresh vegetables and flowers. Thus, under the eye of three "older and experienced" refugees, Friends offered trainees training in agriculture, horticulture, stock- and poultry-keeping, and periodically organized lectures on those subjects. The combined influences of safe haven and wholesome work, sound training and agreeable camaraderie made an immediate difference and it soon became noticeable that "without exception" the trainees "greatly improved in health and physique during their stay... All [were] keen on learning English" and several joined English or French classes. Four conversation and reading groups were held each week by a volunteer who also gave separate lessons to three "backward members" of the community. The conversations often took the form of a discussion "on some subject of interest".

           Just three months after the hostel's opening many of the men there were interned due to fear of "enemy aliens", but the project was saved by the "excellent work" of the wardens, one of the leading refugees and "Brother Andrew"—the tractor. Allegedly the center became "a haven", as the police and the War Agricultural Committee  

simply wouldn't let it be closed [as the specified refugee] was, among other things, a skilled tractor driver [so] he and his wife were spared from internment, and under the wardens he took charge of the agricultural training. 'Brother Andrew'...not only made it possible for the refugees to receive mechanical training,  

but enabled "everything to be very well advanced" when authorities inspected the center during the "critical" months of May and June 1940.

           Staff compensated for the depleted number of residents by introducing young refugees who escaped internment. Despite the lack of experienced help a "high standard" was apparently maintained, for a year later a visitor noted that both the chairman of the War Agricultural Committee and a Ministry of Agriculture inspector recently visited the farm and "congratulated the Management on the forward condition of their work and the quality of their stored crops. The Government is purchasing the residue of the potato crop... [Generally] the refugees were happy and were benefiting from the training".

           Despite the refugees' positive reception of the program at Holwell Hyde, by 1941 it had only about ten trainees and in early 1942 it closed as a program. Most of its residents were able to find positions in agriculture. It had met the needs of adult refugees—but what of those of children who also had fled Nazi terror? Altogether different institutions offered them refuge in a world grown dangerous and often unhospitable.


Boarding Schools

           Although between 1933 and 1939 about 60,000 Jews entered Great Britain—which some at the time deemed "very generous"—at first it received "only a modest part" of the total number of would-be German refugees from the Third Reich due to restrictions on immigration even to those fleeing persecution: only those who brought "the means of supporting themselves" could enter.<8> From 1933 to 1938 less than ten thousand exiles were admitted. Following the Kristallnacht pogrom, however, the British people were deeply moved, and renewed the tradition of asylum for the persecuted". From November 1938 till the outbreak of the war in September 1939 the total number of refugees which Britain admitted approached 60,000. Of those, more than three-quarters were Jews and ten thousand were children unaccompanied by parents.

           Leaders of the Anglo-Jewish community promised the government that they would incur much of the expense of assisting fleeing Continental Jews. The academic-sponsored Assistance Council helped find positions for scholars at British universities and private citizens such as Harold Macmillan or Lord Baldwin provided shelter to numerous refugees at their estates. Quakers in England responded to appeals from German Jews by sending representatives to Germany to organize the removal of children to safety in the U.K., as it would have been too dangerous for British Jews to have gone. The subsequent Movement for the Care of Children from Germany arranged for the rushed emigration of ten thousand children. While teenage children could go abroad unaccompanied, the younger ones were chaperoned on Kindertransporte.<9> Quakers often hosted children when they arrived—and later adopted some of the orphaned ones; children not placed with private families were entrusted to the care of other sponsors, "farmed out" to agricultural schools or housed in boarding schools—including the likes of the New Herrlingen School at Bunce Court, located in the south of England.


Bunce Court

           Upon finishing a German education, Anna Essinger of Ulm went to America, became a qualified teacher and lectured at Madison's University of Wisconsin, where she also ran a student hostel. After the first world war she returned to Germany with a Quaker-sponsored Kinderspeisung program and opened Sozialen-Frauenschulen—community-focused schools for women—near Stuttgart. In 1911 her sister and her general-practitioner brother-in-law had established a children's hostel in Herrlingen, a Swabian village near Ulm; wishing to found a boarding school for those children, Essinger joined them. With the help of two other sisters, she opened the school in 1926 with 18 pupils. In 1927 an Education Ministry report described her as "extremely competent" and said she taught in a "very skillful, fresh and stimulating way, exploiting the material with a dedicated precision linked with resolute practice".<10> Essinger's progressive school thrived until 1933.

           A Jew, Essinger received notice after Hitler's ascendancy to power that her first pupils—who were then the age for it—would not be allowed to sit the Abitur exam, the German state school-leaving examination. Furthermore, for the Fόhrer's birthday in April 1933 it was announced that the Nazi swastika was to be flown over all schools: Essinger obeyed the order but sent the children on a day-long outing. A nephew later recalled: "A flag flying over an empty building could signify so much, and that is what my aunt intended".<11>

           Recognizing that her school had no future in the New Germany, in summer 1933 Essinger—then 54—took 13 of her pupils to England and re-opened the school in Bunce Court, a country estate at Otterden in Kent. Having been denied a chance at the Abitur in their own country, the pupils sat the London Matriculation and nine passed—three with distinction! With help from two sisters, Essinger proceeded to develop a school which closely reflected her dynamic personality. According to one Kent historian, Anna Essinger was 

the-then-English idea of a typical German headmistress, short, stout, with very thick spectacles, a brisk and efficient manner, 'homely' [in the British sense of the word] and very kind to the children, but a strict disciplinarian to teaching staff and pupils.<12> 

           Autumn 1933 found another 65 pupils and their teachers fleeing Nazi Germany via three separate routes so to avoid official notice. Along with these new arrivals came much work. Part of the school's curriculum was practical work and in the following two months pupils had plenty of that, as they had to work in the house and garden.<13> A Committee of Friends organized to assist the school and erected a big wooden dormitory in the grounds for twenty senior boys. Even so, the children suffered from crowded living conditions that first winter. Some contracted diphtheria or scarlet fever; one boy died in November from polio, causing further anxiety in following months whether others might develop it, so Bunce Court was put into isolation for weeks. Provisions were left at the gates and short meetings with parents were restricted to the open air.<14>

           Although at first rough, conditions at the school eventually improved and a state of normality took shape. As the situation in Germany deteriorated, the school increasingly became home to Jewish youth sent abroad by worried parents; the children's unsettled lives and Essinger's progressive pedagogy created an atmosphere of community-based scholasticism.<15> Still, even in such a self-contained, thriving environment, events beyond the garden gate impacted everyday life, as the school body included Jewish refugee children first from Germany, then annexed Austria and occupied Czechoslovakia, followed by children from Poland and Hungry. As a group, they lived in "new-found security as 'citizens of the United Europe of the future'". Some were 

almost ill with homesickness and the older children anxious for parents, brothers and sisters left in Germany. A Quaker worker told...of parents' agony of mind who could only choose one of several children to go to England for safe education and which to select—the most brilliant, most fit, or one most vulnerable and unlikely to survive?<16> 

           In Kristallnacht's wake Essinger helped Jewish families leave Nazi Germany. She had two new dormitories built at Bunce Court and even billeted children with local families. Eventually the need became to be so great that she and the staff barely could respond to it, for as conditions worsened in Germany and the number of refugee children swelled, demand on the school's resources grew. The school's council advised against taking children without definite financial arrangements, though the school "always had up to a dozen children" without them. Many children were taken "on good faith", in the hope that parents would pay when they could or themselves escaped. Another problem involved locating British teachers able to deal with emotional needs 

of Jewish children taken from parents, homes and native country. At that time... Britain was still a peaceful, secure country and few realized what was really happening in Germany and were thus unable to comprehend why Anna [brought the] children out of Nazi Germany.<17> 

           Sometimes, though, "problems" at the school consisted not of spatial or health or psychological limitations—but lingual ones. The official language at the school had to be English in deference to the children's futures, but German remained the de facto lingua franca—a state which caused struggles as well as smiles. In an attempt to enforce the use of English, new British teachers were told they must not learn any German for a year—but they usually did, as the unofficial language of the school was still German for a considerable time. One of the teachers, however, devised a way of reminding the children of the rule of only English at meal times by hanging a miniature Union Jack over the dining-room mantel; at the sound of a German word the teacher pressed a button connected to a light bulb, which illuminated the flag and buzzed a bell. Another daily event that also took place at meal times was a brief "touching of hands" around the table. This was intended to unite the whole body of the school for a short time before meals—"a sort of silent, non-religious grace-before-meals". Furthermore, there was no school uniform, as anything which reminded staff or pupils of "uniformed Nazi Germany was anathema".<18>

           Indeed, at least for them personally, Nazi Germany was behind the young exiles—necessitating them to adapt to a new country and culture. To that end Essinger emphasized participation in groups with foci beyond the front lawn. The school welcomed guest speakers from the League of Nations Union—for example—and from the Workers' Education Association. From the latter came a local mail carrier one cold, rainy night to "face what seemed an endless sea of children's faces". Describing himself as a "bundle of nerves", he "was nearly overcome with stage fright", but managed to get through his "party piece".<19> On a larger scale, as soon as the school had become firmly established its contacts with the local community increased and "its fame spread further afield". The staff decided in summer 1934 to hold an Open Day in the last week of July. During it the children performed the Aristophanes play "Peace"—with the stately manor house as background—and made all of the costumes and props. Some 250 visitors came to see the school and the play—among them Lord Samuel, who in a address welcomed the children to England. Due to this exposure children were invited to stay with host families for holidays. Open Days were held every year up to and after the war.<20>

           The war, however, would disturb more than merely the amicable Open Day. As of September 1939 the owner of the estate fretted how the war might mean the appropriation of Bunce Court and end her income from it, so the Committee of Friends organized for Essinger to purchase the property from her. Then, the following May, with the advance of the Wehrmacht into France all German male staff and pupils over 16 landed in "enemy-alien" internment camps—soon followed by the school's cook and girls over 16.<21> In June 1940 military authorities issued the school three days' notice to leave the premises, as it had been declared a Defence Area: the army had requisitioned Bunce Court. After intense pleas the government reconsidered—granting a week's notice to move an entire school! Not surprisingly, a suitable replacement could not be found, so the school body split—with the smaller part joining another school and the larger part moving to empty Trench Hall in Shropshire, where the school stayed until the war's end. After "much effort" the school re-opened at Bunce Court in June 1946. Immediately after the war it accepted a number of children and young people who had been prisoners in Nazi concentration camps or had similar wartime backgrounds. This, among the 

underlying and unavoidable fact that eventually there would be no more Continental children coming from Europe... Possibly it was at this stage that Anna Essinger felt the original purpose of the school in England was no longer relevant; another may have been that [at almost 70] she was now elderly and considered her work done.<22> 

           Bunce Court school closed in 1948—having served some 900 pupils. Indeed a unique place, it belonged to a specific time. It's rich legacy, however, survived in the form of Continental children assimilated into "British" adults who made important contributions to their adopted homeland. Not only Bunch Courtians, however, went on to lead lives marked by achievement.


Rest Homes



           In November 1933 British Friends opened an Erholungsheim which they deemed a Rest Home—a "friendly little hotel" in Falkenstein-im-Taunus for individuals who "in the passage of the years already had suffered somehow spiritually or physically from the actions of the Nazi Terror".<23> Persons who found respite there came through personal recommendations independent from "political attitudes or worldviews" and included "non-Aryans" as well as Catholics, Lutherans and "people of all the Left Wing Political parties"<24>—among them Ernst Reuter, a future Berlin Regierende Bόrgermeister. The "guests"—a term in use not only at Scattergood Hostel six years later, but already at the Rest Home—shared meals, attended silence-based Meetings for Worship and spent much time "recuperating". Per the home's modus operandi, it was paramount that the persecuted gained "distance from their often really horrible past experiences". In one-to-one conversations staff attempted to find "a new possibility of existence—physically and spiritually— instead of resigning to desperation and lack of courage".<25>

           Elizabeth Howard of England had visited Germany numerous times since the first world war as a relief worker and after the Nazis took power she served at various times as the Rest Home's House Mother. She described the restorative effect of such quiet time as found there by the guests, who arrived in "a weary, nervous condition", not knowing what they would find among 

unknown friends who had invited them out of the blue... but a few days of rest, sleep and freedom from immediate anxiety, and the discovery that there were people who respected them and only wished them well, worked wonders. Colour began to come back to their faces, light into their eyes, and strange miracles of healing happened.<26> 

           Already within nine months of Hitler's Machtergreifung, the need for refuge and renewal was pronounced. During Howard's visit several guests who had fallen "under Government displeasure" or been in prisons or concentration camps appeared at the Rest Home. As she related, it was only when they were


safely shut into our private sitting-room at night or, better still, were wandering in the woods or climbing those magically lovely hills, that it seemed safe to listen to the stories of their experiences...[Also] there were glorious woods close by, where we could walk for hours and get right away from people. Many a tragic story could be told in safety while tramping through the forest, with the certainty that no unfriendly ears were within reach.<27> 

           Howard's last point was pertinent, given that the Quakers had informed local officials about the institution to avoid "unwished seizures". Despite proactive measures, though, when guests wanted to return home they had to undergo interrogation by the Gestapo, who were "keenly interested" to know with whom they had been in the Rest Home.<28> The Gestapo wasn't the only Nazi organ interested in the Frankfurter Hof's guests, as during the first weeks of the Rest Home's existence the suspicions of the local branch of the Frauenschaft—a Nazi women's organization—were "aroused" and the home's first hostess was invited to one of their meetings to explain what she was doing at Falkenstein. She was introduced by the hotel-keeper's daughter, who spoke on 

the virtues and good deeds of the Quakers. I simply replied that we had known for many years of the hardships endured by many German friends, and when the Quakers in England asked, 'Who will go out and help them?' I said, 'I will, and I will come here, because this is the most beautiful village in this, the most beautiful mountain district in Germany'. And with that, I smiled round the assembled company and sat down.  

The women apparently were completely satisfied.<29>  

           Staying for a couple weeks at a time in an atmosphere of "peace and freedom from danger", guests came exactly because of the lack of either "out in the world". Howard told of a dismissed "free-thinking" Jewish judge who had been "on the verge of taking his own life in despair" when an invitation to visit the Rest Home reached him. As he left he said tearfully: "I have regained my self-respect and courage here!", then returned home to face his difficulties. A similar case involved a "non-Aryan Christian" pediatrician who had held "an important post in the city" and had treated "over eighteen thousand cases". His statistics having been confiscated, he was "eating out his heart in inactivity". In addition to "racial suffers", the Rest Home also hosted persons "penalised for their political views". One, a Cologne social worker, 

had been dismissed from her office by telephone, but told that she must continue to go there for three weeks, to initiate her successor, the mistress of a local Nazi leader, into her work. It was almost more than [the social worker] could bear to see her beloved work going to pieces in the hands of an incompetent woman of doubtful character.

           The wife of the social worker's brother, "a dreamy idealist who was in prison as a Communist", also

            came. Upon her arrival, to Howard she looked "a mere child", but left at the end of her visit

full of renewed health, and of joy at the prospect of a rare visit to her [husband in] prison. But on the very day she was starting, a letter came to tell her that [he] had been moved to a concentration camp, and that there was no prospect of her being allowed to visit him there. [Howard] found her in floods of tears. Then a happy thought struck me, and I persuaded her to smile, as I took a photograph which she could send to him in her next letter. After some months [her husband] was released, and they came together for him to convalesce at the Rest Home.<30> 

           The Rest Home later moved to St. Josefs-Haus Bad Pyrmont,<31> where American Catholic nuns who "understood why guests needed complete privacy for their recovery" supported the Quakers' objectives. As Americans, they also were under less pressure to comply with anti-Semitic laws.<32> A focal point of German Quakerdom, Quakers and their guests visiting Bad Pyrmont frequently joined in weekly Meeting for Worship at the Rest Home while it was housed in that spa town during the spring and autumn months until 1939-at which time it closed because the war severed British Quakers' connection with German friends and "one had even then the feeling that events were moving towards catastrophe".<33> Although the outbreak of armed conflict overturned Friends' hopes to continue the Rest Home's operation, during the six years it existed it had offered recuperation to some 800 people<34> and touched the lives of "hundred of others" who never had the chance to share "the hospitality of English Friends in this way [but who] were thankful to know of the existence of this 'island far away'".<35> While the Rest Home focused on rehabilitation and not integration/assimilation, it did provide refugees who wished to emigrate with the physical as well as psychological strength necessary to proceed with both means of adaptation upon leaving the Rest Home's protective door.


Battle and Lavendercroft

           After its agricultural project at Holwell Hyde ceased operation largely due to disturbances caused by the outbreak of armed conflict, the London-based Friends Committee for Refugees and Aliens changed its focus, as the needs of refugees appealing to it had changed. In the first wave of centers operated by British Friends the point of the training had been to prepare transmigrants for the type of occupation at which they most readily could earn a living in other countries. The war, however, not only made the prospects of emigration more remote, it created the possibility—which for refugees had not before existed—of immediate engagement in agriculture, the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps or government training schemes for various forms of industrial work. In 1939 FCRA had created ten residential refugee centers for trainees and one for old or infirm refugees. By September 1941, however, it decided that the greatest need for accommodation existed on the part of the old and infirm; by then there was only a moderate need for training centers. Three of the four centers FCRA subsequently opened were intended for the elderly and the fourth one—oddly, called "Battle"—for mothers and children.

           Battle, which consisted of a house with grounds of four and a half acres in Sussex, first had been used by British Quakers as a horticultural training center. With the change of services offered by FCRA and after enduring the "usual internment troubles in 1940", it gained new life as a home for girls who were trained in domestic work as well as gardening. By the end of 1941, though, "so many forms of employment were open to young refugee girls" that Battle could not be filled, so it was decided to accept no new trainees. At that point ten children—a few with mothers, "the rest unaccompanied"—came to the hostel. As the mothers gradually found other accommodations, more children were added until a peak of 18 was achieved. The children ranged in age from two to 14 years and several of them were "by no means easy to manage, having very disturbed backgrounds"; the mothers of three of them were in mental homes. Such as the case—for example—with two sisters, Stella and Liselotte. Stella was six years old and Liselotte three when they came to Battle. Their Jewish father had landed in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Their unwedded mother had arranged to come to England before Liselotte was born, but the baby arrived prematurely, so the woman had to postpone her departure; she reached Britain only five or six days before war broke out. She and her children initially were supported by a regional refugee organization. Despite having found assistance, she began to suffer severe depression, accompanied by ideas of persecution and suicide. In 1942 she entered a mental institution, where she died a year later while Stella and Liselotte were at Battle. Liselotte had spent many months in hospital, and both children were rather frail and needed special care. After they had been at Battle for two and half years a foster mother assumed care for them.

           Although at the other end of life, elderly refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe often fared scarcely better than helpless children—despite professional or other achievements they might have enjoyed in the prime of their previous lives on the Continent. FCRA's residential care of elderly refugees actually began in spring 1939, when it opened a large, furnished house in Paddington. At that time Quaker relief workers thought it convenient to have a central location, which about 40 refugees soon occupied. When the Nazi government began bombing the British capital in September 1940, however, Friends found it "urgently necessary" to find safer facilities for the elderly and infirm who had been living in FCRA-sponsored accommodations. Such individuals found their way to Lavender Croft near Hitchin.

           Previously, Lavender Croft had housed refugee families whose males were employed locally and who sought accommodation in the neighborhood. Although for a short time the two groups overlapped, the last family soon left. Thereafter the center was run exclusively for elderly refugees who, according to a Quaker report, encountered severe difficulties in coping with the new conditions of their lives: 

Uprooted from their homeland late in life, these men and women found it very much harder than did younger refugees to adapt themselves to new ways and to pick up a new language. Though some had relatives in [Britain] who visited them from time to time, for others the reason for their being at Lavender Croft was that they had none. They had, therefore, little to look forward to and little incentive to take an interest in what was going on around them in England. It [was] not surprising that at times the group should turn in on itself, live in the past and make much of minor inconveniences. 

           The staff felt surprised, however, that its charges did not do so more often and that such a large proportion of them were exceptions to what might be expected to have been the rule. Some of the refugees remained interested in "outside happenings", while a few of the able ones found work in the neighborhood and became self-supporting through part-time employment.

           How or the degree to which elderly refugees adjusted to the changes forced upon them or adapted to their new environments depended very much on the individual's specific character-as well as chance. A professional violinist-for one-had previously lived as the guest "of a lady of most exalted title". Later, however, the woman made it "abundantly clear" that she did not appreciate his playing his violin and, generally, relations had become strained 

beyond endurance. At Lavender Croft [the man] found to his joy that his playing was not only tolerated but even occasionally welcomed; and when presently he was introduced to some English people in a neighbouring town who had similar interests, and was invited to join their ensemble, he took on a new lease of life. 

           Although Lavender Croft did not accept refugees in need of nursing, many guests were semi-invalid. Most of them were highly educated people "used to living in comfort and accustomed to the luxury of privacy". Some found it "irksome" having to share sleeping-quarters, so—when numbers permitted—a small room was reserved as a private bedroom for use by each of the residents in turn. Wardens did not find running such a household easy, for it required a "rare mixture of tact and firmness". They cultivated contact with people outside Lavender Croft-"both by encouraging the guests...to meet people...and by inviting Friends and others to visit...and sometimes give talks".

           The number of resident guests averaged a dozen permanent guests and a half a dozen other elderly refugees as temporary guests. During summer months, though, younger refugees sometimes were invited to spend short holidays at Lavender Croft; in summer 1944 the number of people in the house rose to 34 as a result of refugees from London on short holiday "in need of a week or so's respite from flying bombs". Friends found that the visits helped keep the usual residents in touch with other people and with outside ideas. Visits from children provided a "special pleasure".

           Toward the war's end the number of long-term residents at Lavender Croft declined sharply, with some of the former residents having found residence in nursing homes or "other solutions to their problems". Of those left, "most...had already been living together for too long. Other arrangements were therefore made for each of them". In any case, while the children at Battle presumably were young enough to truly "begin again" and assimilate fully into British society, only some of the elderly at Lavender Croft succeeded in integrating into a society which was not their own and perhaps not even their choice. Above all, adult refugees had to accept that imperial England was no immigration country; their status there would remain one of a foreigner, with little chance of ever being accepted as "British".


Aberdeen Camp

           In contrast, the reception afforded refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe in America was markedly different than in Britain. The arrangements made by Quakers for refugees in the quintessential "immigration country" were correspondingly different from those made by British Friends. Above all, New World Quakers sought from the beginning to "Americanize" the "newcomers", while Friends in England are not recorded as having attempted to Anglicize their charges. Expression of the assumption that the best way to help those seeking assistance was to remake the Europeans into "New Americans" can be found in the first refugee project which American Friends Service Committee [AFSC] of Philadelphia initiated. Indeed, the very first sentence of a promotion letter written to attract "guests" to Aberdeen Camp in summer 1938 promised refugees that they would find 

a haven for rest and recreation and an opportunity to study American ways...at Aberdeen, a large property on the Hudson River which has been available to [AFSC]. Here cultured newcomers from abroad and Americans may live together—doctors, layers, teachers, writers, musicians and artists.<36> 

Quakers intended the project to benefit especially Austrians and Germans "of limited means, who need a congenial home while seeking to establish themselves permanently in the United States".

           Perhaps seeking to encourage self-reliance from the start, the letter emphasized that "in no sense is Aberdeen a 'charity' institution". Both foreign and American residents were to pay "a dollar-a-day" toward the expenses. A press release issued about a week later further explained that 35 to 40 persons would live at the camp, including about a dozen Americans drawn from schools and colleges throughout the East and Midwest. Organizers planned Aberdeen Camp as "an experiment in international living and cooperative learning that will be mutually helpful to everyone taking part in it".<37>

           Located some 75 miles north of Manhattan on a 50-acre tract opposite the "summer White House" at Hyde Park, the Aberdeen estate consisted of a large mansion, a dock house and a barn—all "fully equipped and furnished for school purposes"—an extensive library and a workshop.<38> In such a setting, the camp's sponsors held that life at Aberdeen was not intended to be formal and routine. As a cooperative project residents were meant to share household duties and live "in democratic freedom". At the same time, AFSC provided organized activities of two general types. For one, it offered instruction in languages, literature, American civics and government, as well as in "allied economic and social problems". For another, AFSC strove for a work-balanced-with-recreation program consisting of 

swimming, tennis and hiking to caring for the garden which will be one of the principle sources of food. [AFSC] enlisted the interest of local Quaker groups [which] ploughed the land and planted an extensive garden which should produce a generous harvest of vegetables.<39>  

Scheduled to open on 20 June and run until 15 September 1938, Aberdeen Camp was believed to be "the first such venture" in the U.S. designed to meet the problem of "first adjustment and rehabilitation of refugees".<40> As such it attracted "interested cooperation" and the contributions of several persons or groups-including the proceeds from a concert given by Jascha Heifetz for the benefit of Austrian refugees.

           Plans might sound fine and good, but actual results? In his report on the program written in late August 1938, the camp's director held that the "spirit" of the camp—characterized by "harmony amid variety"—was the result of several causes. For one, AFSC was "wise and fortunate" in its selection of staff. The site placed at its disposal—"with its beautiful setting on the Hudson"—also provided opportunities for "wholesome outdoor life" interspersed with periods of garden and grounds work. English classes and instruction in aspects of American life afforded mental stimulus and were supplemented by occasional evening or weekend discussions led by staff or visitors on "entertaining or educational" topics. Daily periods of sport or play added "buoyancy of spirit".<41>

           As far as the 48 refugee participants themselves, the number of men and women were "almost equal", while the ages of the refugees ranged from eights years to 65, with a dozen of them being under 20. One-third to a quarter of the group's members were Americans, nine were Austrians and the rest Germans. Although a few were Roman Catholic or Protestant, most were Jews. The adult refugees were all "well educated" and the young people had been receiving "a good education" before their exile. Several of the men were physicians, some were lawyers, two were rabbis, one was a banker. Variety in age, religious affiliation, professional or business training, in "abundance of material possessions in the past and to some extent in the present, in past experience and in future outlook" characterized the group.<42> "Harmony" was a "marked characteristic" of their life together.<43>

           Perhaps the "characteristic harmony" reflected the refugees' acceptance and practice of Quaker silence. Reports suggest that shared stillness wove together program activities with refugees' need to integrate their recent experiences. At least the director thought the meetings for worship—held briefly each weekday morning, longer on Sundays—proved to be "a valuable and valued element of our camp life". One "beautiful Sunday morning" the group drove to a nearby mountain stream, made breakfast over a fire and then shared a meeting for worship in which there was "centering down" and a 

worshipful spirit felt by all, with a general regret...that the hour was so soon over... Our non-Quaker members...readily adopted and appreciated the...meetings for worship irrespective of previous practice and experience. While there has not been any tendency to too much vocal expression, a freedom in speaking has been felt...by all, and used by a considerable number of both Americans and Newcomers. The latter have understood that they should feel at liberty to express themselves in their native tongue if they desired to do so as at first they did, but there has been an increasing tendency to speak in English even when dealing with matters so intimate as the ideas and emotions of religion.<44>



           As "successful" as it might or not have been, the well-received summer camp at Aberdeen lacked the time, resources or long-term planning necessary to tackle more directly the task of refugee integration or assimilation. Toward those ends Quakers in the United States established larger, on-going hostels—two of which resembled the prototype Scattergood Hostel upon which they were modeled, yet involved significantly different organizational components or goals. All Quaker hostels, however, (and the AFSC originally envisioned Scattergood to be the first of some two dozen across the United States—of which only two were established) shared the ultimate goal of helping newly arrived European refugees integrate or assimilate with the cultures in the lands of their ultimate destinations.


Finca Paso Seco

           A rare blend of "ideas and emotions", Aberdeen Camp did offer refugees a crash-course on becoming "New Americans". But what of those who had not yet been able to reach America's shores? The Quakers sought to help such individuals as well. At the time one of the best ways to do so was from Cuba, where exiled Europeans could wait until—or, in the event that—the U.S. State Department granted the coveted visas necessary to enter the country.<45> To house and meet other basic needs of such castaways, AFSC established Finca Paso Seco near Havana. AFSC volunteer Emmett Gulley of Newberg, New York—who must have seemed a spectacle to the Cubans, given that he stood almost two and a quarter meters!—drove with his family via the World's Fair in New York City to Miami in July 1939, then flew to Cuba to serve as director of the project. As he later wrote, the founding of Finca Paso Seco was possible because Cuba had "opened her doors" to exiled Europeans, but on the condition that each post $500 bond to guarantee that she or he would not become a public charge. Those fleeing arbitrary Nazi tyranny then had to sign an agreement 

that they were entering as tourists and would not accept pay for work. Since the refugees were desperate for any place to land, they had to agree. This left them in a terrible condition [with] no money and no way of earning money.<46>  

           As Gulley—a former Quaker relief agent who had fed the needy in civil war-torn Spain—discovered, most of the refugees previously had applied to enter the United States based on national quotas permitted under U.S. immigration laws. Thus, Cuba became a tropical waiting station while the refugees waited "for their numbers to be called".<47>

           To house them, AFSC rented a farm which had a house with 27 rooms and five bathrooms. With this as a center, American Quakers operating the place began assisting "as many refugees as possible", which proved to be about 60 people at a time—mostly men for, as Gulley saw it, in a time when work for pay was forbidden, men had the "greatest problem". In their case, they could not occupy their time, so would 

congregate in groups on the streets of Havana and talk about the trouble they were having, what they had passed through and express apprehension about the future. On the other hand, the women could keep busy about the house, [tending to] handwork and caring for their dependents. The strain on them was minimal compared to the men.<48> 

           AFSC had very specific refugees in mind in creating Finca Paso Seco, as it saw the project as the center of a diversified service and training program which emphasized training younger refugees to meet the needs of their new lives in foreign countries. The center also served the purpose of a transit camp and provided a basis for the "orderly immigration" of young men and women who were neither children nor adults ready or eligible for independent immigration. AFSC hoped to offer the first group the "advantage" of


assisting in the preparation of temporary buildings for dormitories and workshops and participating in their equipment with new home-made and reconditioned second-hand furniture, affording plenty of opportunities for trade training as well as service.<49> 

AFSC provided later groups with as much work of this kind as available and both groups received the more common training in connection with farming or techniques which "might enable them to establish themselves in industry and possibly to introduce new industries into their country of final settlement".

           As it did with all of its refugee centers, AFSC sought to run Finca Paso Seco cooperatively and to provide a comprehensive array of services. The staff offered English and Spanish lessons, as well as instruction in "wood turning", carpentry and machinery. The resident refugees also helped in the garden and kitchen, washroom and office. Manual labor, though, seemed to be something new for them, as most of the refugees were "were people of wealth and position in their own countries": as Gulley noted, they included bankers, lawyers and judges, businesspeople, teachers, musicians and others from 

nearly all of the white collar walks of life. It was a great trial for many of them to have to work with their hands on [the] farm. [Also] the idea of democracy was bewildering. When I went out and worked with them, I lost face. I was no 'leader' they said. Their idea of leadership meant sitting behind a desk and giving orders but never getting [your] own hands dirty. 


           Still, the Quaker staff tried to run the hostel according to democratic principles so that the refugees might "begin to learn to participate" rather than be dictated to. Curiously, the refugees voted to rise 

in the wee hours of the morning! All of activities were decided by discussion and vote. It took nearly three months for them to really begin to appreciate the democratic idea of participating in [decision-making]. When they understood the meaning of demo-

cracy and how every individual

was respected, they became

enthusiastic about it.<50> 

           Common life at Finca Paso Seco did not consist, however, only of work: the community also shared free time activities as a group. An article in the Jόdische Rundschau, for example, indicated the atmosphere of the place. Its author related:


It was already dark and only by the outlines of the trees and palms could we notice that we were outside of Habana in the open country... Soon we saw from a great distance the brightly lighted castle-like building, and as we entered the yard by the large gate we were at once surrounded and greeted heartily by cheerful people. On our questions, asking about the state of their health and general feeling, the answers came almost in a chorus: 'Very well—excellent—I am happy to be here—I did not think it to be so nice.' The looking and the faces of those people confirmed their words.


The performances were carried out by the very excellent pianist Mr. Franz Rotter<51> and by [two accompanying] violinists. A small but well-instructed chorus as well as piano pieces...completed the program...given with love and eagerness... After a short pause the great surprise of the evening came. The guests in their turn gave performances, the artistic level of which would have given honour to any public concert... The audience thanked with stormy applause. The music evening on the Finca was an adventure, which will have a thankful and pleasant memory. We would have liked to remain in the circle but the necessity for rest for the Finca-people, who have to get up very early for work, as well as the leave of the last train to Havana caused our departure. We felt the sincerity of the farewell 'auf baldiges Widersehen' and equally sincere was in us the wish to be as soon as possible in this circle again.<52>

           Not only guests at the farm but other outsiders also played a major role in Finca Paso Seco's daily life. Cuban officials, for example, soon proved to be "suspicious".<53> The center also had visits from armed police, Department of Justice representatives, Army and Navy Intelligence agents and others. Each time, a "quiet talk" and the offer to show them "everything" resulted in


dispersing their fears. The refugees themselves were jittery and fearful. They were all fleeing from a dreadful persecution in Germany and Central Europe. Few had any money to speak of and nearly all of them had relatives who had been left behind. We were entreated to help them. Some of the pitiful cases, we tackled.<54>


           In one case, a young couple had married only a week before the man sailed to Cuba, leaving the woman in the Netherlands. He expected to find a way to send for her but before he could Cuba "closed its doors to all European refugees". The Quaker staff at Finca Paso Seco found a government official "with a heart" and upon his advice the woman sailed to Panama, from where she was allowed to enter Cuba and the couple was re-united. Millions of other refugees, however, were not so lucky. The most fortunate of them managed to squeeze through the tightly locked door of entry to the United States, where some of those in turn ended up at Quaker-sponsored centers meant to help the refugees begin the long, complicated processes of integration or, perhaps, even assimilation into their adopted culture.



The will to settle Jews in Palestine did not equate the ability. See Diner in Blasius (1994, pp. 138-160) for an in-depth review of measures taken to restrict Jewish immigration.


Except where noted, information in this section comes from Bentwich (1956). Norman Bentwich served as Attorney General of the Mandate Government in Eretz Israel from 1920 to 1931. From 1931 to 1951 he taught as Professor of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from 1933 to 1936 acted as Director of the League of Nations Commission for Jewish Refugees from Germany (Patkin, 1979. p 15).


Although records do not reveal if lessons were offered at the settlement—for example in French or agriculture—or if other efforts were made to assimilate the refugees, it is included here because 1) the refugees mostly intended to settle in the area and 2) as shown by their contact with locals, the refugees were willing to adapt at least partially to the local culture.


This account comes from Lawrence Darton's unpublished report, "Friends Committee on Refugee Affairs" (found at Friends Library, Friends House, London), pp. 21-22.




This state of affairs continued until almost the end of the war when—just as the Germans were leaving France—the man was deported to Germany and later Russia. Nothing was heard of him till some three years later. According to the report from which this account is taken, "after many efforts to secure his return, he was repatriated to France in 1948 and went back to the school, which his wife had carried on in his absence". Shortly afterwards the man became a Quaker and in 1949 the donor transferred the property to him and his family.


The material in this section comes from Darton, Ibid., pp. 97-101.


Bentwich, 1956, p. 25; see Blasius and Diner, Ibid., p. 141.


See Tydor, 1990.

For desciptions of Kindertransporte from occupied-Germany accompanied by future Scattergood Hostel guests, see pp. 60-63 in OHR.


Michael Smith. "'hat the Lady Did' Gives Hope for the Future". Education Magazine, 2.XII.94.




Alan Major. "Bunce Court, Anna Essinger and Her New Herrlingen School, Otterden—Parts One, Two and Three". Bygone Kent 10 #8-10 (1989).

In Part One, Major explains that much of the financial support for Essinger's move to England came from well-heeled friends in the aristocracy and British Quakers (p. 550).


The New Herrlingen School possessed its own mini-farm, with the children mostly in charge of its "large garden and two greenhouses with numerous frames, all with heating", five hundred hens, some pigs and hives of bees. "The pigs were fed on kitchen waste and [one group of pupils], who were entirely responsible for them, ran an old motor-car on the proceeds from the sale of the piglets" (Ibid., p. 627).


Ibid., p. 551.


This is no random claim, but one backed by Major's research. In October 1937, several inspectors from the government's Board of Education visited the school for three days and filed a subsequent report. Their comments are revealing, as they were "amazed at what could be achieved in teaching with limited facilities and convinced it was the personality, enthusiasm and interest of teachers rather than their teaching "apparatus' that made the school work competently". At the time of the inspection, 68 pupils attended the school- 41 boys and 27 girls, with 65 being boarders and 12 being English. From 1933 to 1937, 26 children left the school for other countries- mostly the U.S. or Palestine—but for other schools in Britain, too. The inspectors also noted "the considerable trouble Anna went to so that those pupils wanting to do so could have further training for a chosen career". By the school's closure pupils had entered "a wide range of careers and during the war some had joined the Services or did war work in Britain" (pp. 628-629). Besides reviewing educational activities, the inspectors reported that "the discipline being that of a large family rather than that of an institution, the pupils go about the House freely and use as day rooms not only the classrooms and library, but also the rooms of the staff, including the Head Mistress's own sitting room" (p. 630).


Ibid., p. 550.


Ibid., p. 553.


Ibid., p. 625.


Ibid., pp. 625-627.


Ibid., p. 627.


According to Major, "this was seemingly a short-sighted and needless act as none of the staff or pupils, having left Germany in such unhappy circumstances, had the slightest allegiance to Nazi Germany or would do anything against the interests of their new-found home, England. Some of the staff and older boys were dispatched for internment to Australia, where they were housed in camps for a time, living in conditions little better than the Nazi concentration camps they had avoided by leaving Germany, a fact that created a rightful bitterness for years afterwards over such treatment. The schoolboys from Bunce Court, however, were soon released on arrival in Australia as they were below the age of 18. There was no government provision for their return to England and some had extraordinary adventures before arriving in the USA or joining the British army!" (p. 654).


Ibid., p. 655.

In 1943 Essinger wrote: "I have been justified again and again in my belief that the "human element' is much more important in successful teaching than any amount of technical equipment. It has been one of the great joys...to see how with the help of a good and co-operative staff much has been made of little. While it was not always easy to help uprooted children over their difficulties, the knowledge that the School enabled them to grow up decently has encouraged me to continue this work" (Unprinted book titled Bunce Court School, 1933-1943, p.14, found in London's Weiner Library).


Otto, 1972, p. 304.

According to Brenda [Friedrich] Bailey—daughter of important figures in the German Yearly Meeting of Friends before, during and after the Hitler regime—"the idea had come from Herta Kraus, a German Friend, who felt that people discharged from concentration camps or who had suffered in other ways could be helped to regain their strength and morale through a retreat with understanding English and German Quaker hosts" (1994, p. 59).

See Sandvoί (1994, pp. 277-281) for a description of German Quaker aid or resistance.


Howard, 1941, p. 50.


Otto, Ibid., p. 304.




Ibid., pp. 48-49.


Ibid., p. 304.


Darton, Ibid., p. 7.

According to Howard, "one was...all the time conscious of skating on very thin ice, and one never knew when one was being watched, so that an incautious word, or a name too loudly spoken, might bring all our work into danger, innocent though it was" (p. 49).


Ibid., pp. 50-52.

Howard noted: "Let it not be supposed that all our guests were saints or heroes. We cast our net very wide and sometimes caught queer fish! There was an endless call on the tact and understanding of each House Mother, but it was all abundantly worthwhile" (p. 58). Echoing a similar sentiment issued two years later at Scattergood, a former Rest Home guest wrote to her in 1941, referring to that refuge as an "island of kindness amid a storm of wickedness" (p.48).


Howard explained that the Rest Home "was later transferred...to a more accessible province of Germany, so that we could lessen the need for very long and costly travel. We always paid the fares for our guests where this was needful" (Ibid., p. 48).


Bailey, Ibid., p. 59.


Howard, Ibid., p. 58.


Darton, Ibid., p. 78 and Greenwood, 1975, p. 262.


Howard, Ibid., p. 48.


Unsigned promotion letter entitled "Aberdeen Camp", 25.V.38.

An AFSC proposal held that "the project is intended to provide a congenial atmosphere in which residents may find opportunities for mutual exploration of American and German ways of thinking and living—resulting in a better understanding of each other's cultures".


Press Release, "INTERNATIONAL SERVICE HOSTEL- Aberdeen, West Park, N.Y.", 3.VI.38.

Besides young Americans, the staff also included Katrin, mother of Erhard Winter [both having been given pseudonyms upon request]; a German social worker, she served as Aberdeen Camp's "chief counsellor" and he sojourned at Scattergood Hostel.


Promotion Letter, 1938, p. 2.




Press Release, 1938, p. 2.


Arthur Charles, Unpublished "Report on Aberdeen Camp", 23.VIII.38, p. 1.


As explained in an anonymous report, the variety of people greatly enriched the camp: "The size of [the group] seemed satisfactory. There were not too many to prevent close acquaintance being formed with everyone, and yet it was large enough to offer each one opportunity to find congenial companions and some variety of acquaintance. The presence of children, of youths, and of mature men and women seemed to contribute a wholesome family atmosphere approximating that of a home. Boys and girls of the upper teenage not only enjoyed each other's companionship, but were a source of satisfaction and pleasure rather than of worry to their concerned elders. The age variety as well as its size made the group feel that they were members of large family rather than of an institution" (Unprinted report titled "Suggestions").


Arthur Charles, Unpublished "Report on Aberdeen Camp", 23.VIII.38., p. 1.


Ibid., p. 2.


An AFSC "Memorandum Concerning the German Refugee Project in Cuba" (4.V.39 noted: "As of March 20, 1939, there were about 4,000 refugees in Cuba, of whom 600 were on relief. Naturally there is a wide range of age and occupation. No refugees are allowed employment except when self-employed in farming, trade, or industry. Very few have been able to start such enterprises except boarding houses. Practically all refugees are centered in a slum district in Havana due in some measure to a housing shortage outside Havana. Deterioration of morale is rapid and extremely serious".


Gulley, 1973, p. 76.



Gulley related: "the U.S. Consul in Havana came to observe our work and became quite interested and proved to be a good friend. These refugees who expected to enter the U.S. had to take their turn as their assigned number came up to the head of the list. However, there was a rule to the effect that where there was a married couple signed up with different numbers they were allowed to enter together if the husband's number came up first but not if the wife's came up first. We had just such a case. They, of course, were anxious to go. [The Consul] got out the book of regulations and said, "I'll tell you what the book says, now let's see how we can get around it.' He then found that in certain "hardship' cases, the Consul was permitted to use his judgment, and in this case he did so" (p. 77). One couple who came to Cuba to await necessary documents to enter the U.S. consisted of Otto and Rosa Bauer of Vienna. In their case they sought re-entry, as they already had spent five months at Scattergood Hostel (see p. 150-OHR).



According to Rosa Scheider—a Czech woman who later became a Scattergood Hostel resident—"Families were not accepted, only young men, who had to be retrained and given a home. But families were always welcome guests and so the Finca Paso Seco became a beloved goal for Sunday trips. I shall never forget these Meetings in the cool shadow of the porch, with its view of the tropical park around the building... After the Meeting we used to lie down under the palms behind the building and enjoy a peaceful day" (Rosa Scheider, "Cuban Experiences", SMNB, 17.XII.40 .


AFSC Memorandum, 4.V.39.


Ibid., p. 78.


Signing his name as "Frank Rotter", three days after the "music-evening" he penned a letter to "Mr. Society of Friends of Philadelphia" in which he wanted to offer thanks "for the founding of such a wonderful working-community. Until now these people wandered about in the small streets of Habana, without any definite goal and plan. Now, given the chance to work, it is made possible for them to gain practical knowledge of many business-branches. And hence this happens without any constraint, the psychological result is unmeasurable. With joy and devotion they take part in every thing; how they enjoy when the plants set by themselves grow up in the field ploughed by themselves, how they enjoy joining in building usefull [sic] things in the carpenter-shop, how happy we were, when the car completely rebuilt by ourselves was running. Everyone gets to know the sense of duty, and the working together in community. He gets acquainted with the soul, thoughts and the idea of Quakerism. If I were to say everything concerning the already noticeable influence upon the souls of the people living here, my report would fill up too much space [as] we all who have the luck to be here, have the firm believe [sic], based upon the influence of the Finca-life, that we, in our new homeland, living in a new social order, shall become good, real and efficacious American citizen [sic]. I express my very deep thanks" (Franz Rotter, Open Letter, 6.XI.39).


Translated article, "Music-evening on the Finca", Jόdische Rundschau, 3.XI.39.


In the first days of Finca Paso Seco's existence, the community "enjoyed frequent calls from the police [who were] all afraid we were hiding refugees or starting a little counter-revolution. Laborers had to be drafted as interpreters to explain how harmless [the refugees] were, and every last man had to go to the county seat to report in person before all fears were allayed!" (Eleanor Slater, Unpublished Essay entitled "The Quaker Star in Cuba", 5.IX.39 .


Ibid., pp. 77-78.

Gulley later lamented: "Our year in Cuba passed all too quickly, for we were extremely busy. Supervising the program on our refugee farm, [nurturing] contacts with the U.S. Consulate to help clear up troubled cases, dealing with Cuban officials [or] business men, supplying food for our group, meeting visitors and many other things kept us on the go" (p. 78).

The sources of the above citations are outlined in Michael Luick-Thrams' dissertation bibliography at http://dochost.rz.hu-berlin.de/dissertationen/history/Luick-Thrams-Michael-1997-07-02/HTML/Luick-Thrams-bib.html

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