19 December 2009

Friends Onboard

From Time on this day in 1938:

Religion: Friends' Service

Tall 75-year-old Dr. Rufus Matthew Jones, retired Haverford College philosophy professor, is a great & good member of a great U.S. sect, the Society of Friends. Two decades ago Quaker Jones helped found the organization he chairmans today--the American Friends Service Committee, universally respected for its good works.

During seven years after the War, the Committee raised and spent $25,000,000 to care for 7,000,000 needy, regardless of race, throughout Europe and Russia. During the Socialist uprising in Austria in 1934, the Committee was designated the official relief agency by consent of both the Socialist party and the Austrian government. In the U.S., working among West Virginia coal miners, the Committee is Mrs. Roosevelt's favorite charity, to which she gave the $100,000 she made from three years' speaking on the radio.

The friends could take in their stride such a job as helping to get the Jews out of Germany. Last fortnight Rufus Jones and two other Quakers--Headmaster George Arthur Walton of George School near Philadelphia, and Businessman D. Robert Yarnall of Germantown, Pa.--set sail on the Queen Mary, bound for Germany. They hoped to discuss the Jewish problem with German officials: with Adolf Hitler, even, if they could gain his ear.

Mindful of German dislike of outside interference, they kept mum about their plans. At least two newspapers, the New York Times and the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, knew what the three Friends were about, and kept mum, too. But the Philadelphia Record got wind of the story, telephoned numerous Philadelphia Quakers, finally got hold of Quaker Jones on the Queen Mary. Despite his pleas, the Record splashed the story on its front page last week.

Philadelphia Friends called the publicity "tragic" and, in view of the fact that the Record's Publisher Julius David Stern is a Jew, "the worst crime in newspaper history." Their concern was justified when, on the day the Quaker delegation reached Berlin, Dr. Goebbels' organ Der Angriff sniggered: "We hope they will make themselves known...Then we will know, you see, when to begin to quake--quake duly before the Quakers of the U.S.A...."

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