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The following recommendations were written
between 1998 and 2000 by hosts of Michael Luick-Thrams’ program about the
Scattergood Hostel for European refugees, near West Branch/Iowa from
1939-43. They are included here for their commentary about both the
speaker’s skill and the worthiness of this, his first programming topic.
Since 2000 Michael’s repertoire of program topics has expanded vastly and
mirror the stories told on this web site.
Jeffrey R. Portman, rabbi, Agudas Achim
Congregation, Iowa City/Iowa:
Michael Luick-Thrams is an accomplished
author and speaker. His recent presentation at our congregation was one of
the best attended programs we have had. His recent book, Out of Hitler’s
Reach: The Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees, 1939-1943, is
To our audience, many of whom had relatives
who either perished or escaped the Holocaust, Michael’s presentation was
especially poignant. His sensitivity to his audience made the evening even
Tim Orwig, Assistant Dean of the College,
Morningside College, Sioux City/Iowa:
I heartily recommend Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams
as a speaker for your event. Dr. Luick-Thrams spoke three times on the
Morningside College campus about Scattergood Hostel and the people who saved
so many precious lives from the Holocaust. He added a valuable perspective
to our Holocaust class, our all-campus lecture series and our writers’
discussion series. I also heard him speak in a local church. People
responded well to his messages of conscience, inclusion and celebrating
As a church-related college, we teach our
students the importance of acting on your faith and reaching out to those in
need. The lesson of Scattergood Hostel, I think, is that by acting locally,
you can influence the events that take place halfway around the globe. Dr.
Luick-Thrams was able to communicate that to our students, faculty and staff
in an immediate manner.
Jane Bryant and Fonda Haworth, elementary
teachers, West Branch (Iowa) Community Schools:
It was our pleasure recently to invite
Michael Luick-Thrams to our school in West Branch, Iowa, to share stories
from his recent book, Out of Hitler’s Reach, the story of Scattergood
Hostel, 1939-43, during our sixth-grade Holocaust unit.
Michael’s presentation was most engaging and
appropriate for our middle-level students. He chose to primarily concentrate
on the stories of the children who stayed at the hostel. He focused on their
experiences of attending the local school, visiting sites of interest around
Iowa, and meeting and becoming friends with the local people around West
Branch. Michael’s presentation included not only anecdotes of the “first
Jello” but also remembrances of birthday parties, chores and living on a
farm. Also of interest to the students was what had happened to the guests
and their children through the years. His slides and narrative were
thoughtful and interesting, which encouraged our students to incorporate
this new information into their projects.
We are grateful to Michael for working with
our students for several days in small group settings in addition to giving
the slide presentation. He gave the students individual attention and was
available to answer questions and provide a great deal of motivation to our
students. We recommend him and his book to anyone who is looking for a
real-life connection to an historical event that often seems very vague and
unreal for young people.
Camilla Hewson Flintermann, family therapist
As a former staff member at Scattergood
Hostel, and as one who worked with Michael Luick-Thrams as he gathered
information for the Scattergood story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Out
of Hitler’s Reach. It is a wonderful blend of historical analysis and of
moving personal accounts by some of the “lucky ones” who managed to escape
“Hitler’s reach” and begin new lives in the United States.
In 1939, when the hostel opened, I was just
out of high school; the 14 months I spent on staff before leaving for
college were some of the most influential of my life. The drama, humor,
anguish and courage of our “guests” are effectively and accurately portrayed
in Michael’s account of the Scattergood experience, whether in the book or
in his lectures.
This is truly a story of the resilience of
the human spirit!
Ann-Ellen Akeley, teacher, Oakwood Friends
School, Poughkeepsie/New York:
Michael Luick-Thrams’ video and commentary on
the Scattergood Hostel in Iowa and its sheltering of Jewish refugees during
the Nazi period breaks new ground in an area about which there are both
inaccurate assumptions and considerable ignorance.
His November 12th 1999 visit to
our school provoked considerable interest and afterthought among a student
population for whom the mid-twentieth century is ancient and distant
history. As a Holocaust educator, I found his material, approach and
personality well-matched to his educational mission and commend him to
others in his continued devotion to the task he has set for himself.
Guenther “George” Krauthamer, professor of
neurology, Princeton/New Jersey:
One day, not long ago, at [the
suburban-Philadelphia Quaker retreat center] Pendle Hill, I chanced upon
Michael Luick-Thrams’ book Out of Hitler’s Reach, the story about
Scattergood Hostel during the Second World War. I pounced upon that book
because it captured one of the most memorable episodes of my life. It was
1942: I was sixteen, just out of Hitler’s reach and new to America. The old
Quaker school, deep in the cornfields of Iowa, had been turned into a
hostel—a kind of safe haven—for refugees from Europe. In [the book’s] pages
I found myself and the whole fascinating history of Scattergood—and I met
Michael has succeeded in recreating the
unique Scattergood experience and making it meaningful and topical—perhaps
even more so today. One outgrowth of his book was my return visit to
Scattergood, an occasion used by Iowa Public Television to produce a program
based on Michael’s book. My children and my wife also have had the
opportunity to attend one of Michael’s lectures and greatly appreciated his
presentation and the knowledge they gained.
There is yet another story behind the story
of Scattergood Hostel. It is the author’s own: the road which led an Iowa
farm boy via Quakerism and world travel to writing this book as a
doctoral dissertation at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany—perhaps the
most fitting locale.
Victoria Brown, professor of history,
Grinnell College, Grinnell/Iowa:
I am familiar with Mr. Luick-Thrams’ work.
Though not a “standard” academic text, it is a compelling story and Mr.
Luick-Thrams does a good show. If you’re looking for confirmation that this
is an appropriate person to bring to campus, I can offer that. I found his
work to be competent and the students who attended seemed very engaged with
the story he had to tell. Now that I’ve done more independent research into
the question of Jewish refugees in that era, I might raise new questions,
but it’s a good story and deserves to be told.
Linda Jeffrey, professor of clinical
psychology, Rowan University, Glassboro/New Jersey:
[Out of Hitler’s Reach] is so
inspiring, and I’m looking forward to reading your book. Just wanted to
mention to you that I grew up in Nebraska, so I find the Midwestern flavor
of the Scattergood Hostel particularly moving. I’m fascinated with many
aspects of this effort, including the impact it had on the [historical
theological] split in the Quakers in the area. It’s very interesting how
momentary, truly unimportant ideas that separate people fall away at least
momentarily in the face of responding to people in need. The hopefulness of
the Scattergood Hostel is something my students at Rowan need to hear about,
because they too often are swamped with stories of the breakdown of our
mental health system in an era of managed care, the lack of substance abuse
treatment and the intractability of mental illness. They need to be inspired
with hope about what can be done when people work together even in the face
of as massive an evil as the Nazis.
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