Artifacts From Thomas Doeppner’s Life Are Featured in the Holocaust Memorial Museum
Thomas Doeppner’s life story and escape from Nazi Germany during the 1930s and ’40s provide a striking contrast with American attitudes toward refugees at that time. His artifacts now form part of an exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Doeppner fled Germany at 18 and made his way to the Netherlands, seeking help from Quakers in immigrating to America through American Friends Service Committee. They assisted him by getting him accepted to McPherson College in Kansas.
Early Life and Education
Sarah Snow’s grandfather rarely discussed his past, but family lore held that Albert Einstein helped him escape Nazi Germany as an 18-year-old student. Snow and her husband loaned several items to the Holocaust Memorial Museum which confirm this account of Doeppner’s experience with AFSC.
The American Friends Service Committee worked to secure Doeppner a place at McPherson College in Kansas – one of 200 colleges which actively recruited and offered scholarship funds for refugees like Doeppner. After graduation, he joined the Army and took part in World War II.
The exhibit showcases images of Doeppner at an Army barracks during basic training and receiving his victory medal.
Sarah Doeppner Snow was told as a child by family lore that her grandfather, Thomas Doeppner, fled Nazi Germany at 18-years-old. Through research conducted with Jason Snow, new details about Thomas have emerged that will be highlighted at the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s current “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibit.
Doeppner then sought assistance from the American Friends Service Committee of Quakers to immigrate to America, and was assisted in acquiring both a visa and admission into McPherson College of Kansas at this time, which actively recruited refugees as students and provided scholarships accordingly, according to a news release issued by the museum.
Doeppner attended McPherson for two years before transferring to Kansas State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Later enlisting with the U.S. Army during World War II.
Achievement and Honors
Erich began writing threads packages for Unix early on. Since then he has written extensively on operating-system internals, multithreaded programming, and computer networks. At Brown CS he taught many courses; under his instruction his students have won national and international scholarships and competitions.
Doeppner’s story will be told at the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s special “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibition that opened April 23. Much of its content consists of artifacts loaned by Sarah Snow, who blogged extensively about her grandfather.
An American professor who had met Doeppner while he was living in Berlin also played an essential part in convincing McPherson College to accept him as a student, according to research done by the museum. At that time, McPherson College was actively recruiting refugee students as students while also raising scholarship funds on their behalf.
Tom Doeppner was one of the pioneers to introduce threads packages into Unix, creating tools to measure and analyze concurrent program performance as well as publishing research in operating system support for security.
His wife, Ella, was also born in Germany but fled the Nazi regime when the Nazis took power. With help from the AFSC she obtained a visa and admission into McPherson College in Kansas – one of many schools that recruited students escaping Nazi persecution as documented by Holocaust Memorial Museum researchers.
Doeppner rarely talked about his past as a refugee, and Sarah Snow didn’t find out about his letter from Albert Einstein until nearly an adult. Sarah Snow’s research into Doeppner’s story helped the Burke resident’s research put his artifacts on display at the museum’s new “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibit which opened to the public on Apr 23rd.
Sarah Snow of Burke began cleaning out his apartment when her grandfather became ill with Alzheimer’s disease, when they came upon a box full of letters dating from 1939 through late 1944. Family lore held that Albert Einstein assisted his grandfather’s escape from Nazi Germany but through extensive research Sarah and Jason discovered he played more of a secondary role than was originally thought when it came to enrolling into American colleges; their grandfather eventually immigrated through Ellis Island in November 1939 before enrolling at McPherson College in Kansas.