The Department of State, with the assistance of many private organizations, is steadily increasing its efforts to provide German young people with the opportunity to become good citizens by the standards of democratic tradition.
THIS IS the story of Ernst Hermann Taucher, a likeable young German who has recently gone back to his own country after spending a year in the United States. During that year he lived with an American farm family, attended the local high school, went to the church of his "foster family," and helped with the farm work as the son of any farmer would. He made many friends in the school and in the community. Most important of all, he learned the American way of life by living it. Ernst is one of 576 German boys and girls in the 15-year to 18-year age group who have had or are now having such an experience.
The story of Ernst's year in America goes back of his departure from Germany to the Christmas season of 1948 and to some meetings that were being held in Stuttgart between some officials of the United States Military Government and some field-service men of the American Church of the Brethren. The privilege of foreign travel had recently been restored to German nationals, and the Americans in conference at Stuttgart were planning an exchange program to permit groups of carefully selected young Germans to study in American universities or to study and observe American techniques and institutions, such as the operation of a free press, the American legal system, teacher training, health and sanitation, city planning, and agricultural methods.
At that time occupation officials assigned a very high priority to the restoration of German agriculture, for the thinking of that period dictated the reshaping of Germany as a primarily agricultural country. The American occupation officials had called in representatives of the Brethren to assist in the planning of an exchange program that would be of special benefit to German farming. This was a logical step to take, for the membership of the Church of the Brethren is greatest in the farming districts of the United States, and, as a group, the Brethren are progressive and prosperous farmers. The representatives in Germany had been working extensively in the rural areas and villages; they had recently distributed a shipload of American heifers that had been sent by their organization to help restock the depleted farms of Germany; and they had a first-hand knowledge of the farm situation both in Germany and in the United States that was valuable to the Government officials in Stuttgart.
In the course of these conferences the Americans agreed that young farmers, selected farm hands, and college-age students interested in the scientific aspects of agriculture should be included in the exchange program. One of the conferees suggested inclusion of some boys and perhaps a few girls of secondary-school age, those who planned to be farmers and were currently either apprenticed to farmers and attending part-time vocational schools or seeking such apprenticeships.
The idea was startling; it was also attractive. One of the major purposes of the exchange program is to provide the German people with the democratically trained youthful leadership which they now lack but must have, and have soon, if Germany is to take its place as a cooperative member of the family of Western nations. Today's German leaders are for the most part either middle-aged or elderly, and the 30-year to 40-year age group that would normally provide a base of replacement for the older leaders has been decimated by World War II. Hope lies with Germany's youth, the boys and girls who were too young to have been firmly set in the Nazi mold, old enough to have suffered the common hardships of civilians under the total defeat of their military and the wholesale destruction of their nation, and blessed with the tremendous recuperative powers, the resilience, and the responsiveness of the very young.
The high-school age group best fulfilled these requirements, but the United States Government was not prepared to give personal supervision to the high-school-age youth of its own or any other nation. It could provide funds to get the boys and girls to America and, if necessary, to help with their support in the United States, but teen-age youngsters needed to be in homes. The Brethren field men volunteered to find the right kind of homes for them; they believed that they could find good farm families who would be willing to take in a young German for a year and treat him as a family member, supporting him, sending him to the local high school, teaching him what they knew about farming, and providing him with the experience of average American living. The field-service men said that their organization could work through local pastors in farm communities and through the local high-school principals to insure cooperation in this experiment. Although the Brethren Service Commission had not much money of its own, the field-service men believed that they could work out arrangements for covering travel within the United States, maintenance, clothing, and incidental expenses.
Thus Ernst's story is in part the story of the Brethren, without whose energetic cooperation the United States Government could not have undertaken a program involving such young boys and girls. In the first year of this experiment, the Church of the Brethren sponsored the entire group of 90 students, 50 of whom came to America in September 1949, 40 in October; in the second year, now in progress, it sponsors the majority of the 486 students who are here. The National Grange, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Field Service, and the Kiwanis Club have assumed sponsorship of the remainder.
While these plans were shaping in Stuttgart, 16-year-old Ernst Hermann Taucher, his first farm apprenticeship having ended with the harvest season, was attending a six-month winter course at the District School of Agriculture for Kreis (district) Hofgeismar, at Carlsdorf, in northern Hesse. Since February 1945, when the Soviet Army had invaded Pomerania, the Tauchers had been refugees in their own country. They had lost everything except their courage. The father of the family, a prosperous farmer and burgomaster of the little village of Palzwitz, had died a few weeks after being placed in a Soviet concentration camp. Ernst, the youngest child and the only boy, had been away at boarding school at the time. Teachers and children had fled before the Russian advance, making their way on foot through bitter winter weather to northwestern Germany. Food and water were scarce, shoes wore out, and shelter was hard to find. His eldest sister, Christa, 22 at the time, had taken the three younger girls away into the northwestern area, and that spring by nothing short of a miracle she found Ernst sheltering with his school in an abandoned building. After that the five children stayed together, working their way at farms along their route to the district of Hofgeismar, where their mother had lived as a girl. Arrived there, Christa placed her charges on farms and set off "hitchhiking" to find out what had happened to the parents. It was a long and hazardous search, ending months later in a hospital of the Soviet zone, where Christa found her mother slowly recovering from a prolonged siege of typhus. The trek back to Hofgeismar was slow and painful, but two years after their original separation the family were together again.
In December 1948 life was not easy for the Taucher family, but it was not nearly so hard as it had been. Mrs. Taucher was earning regular, if small, pay as a teacher in a vocational school for girls and had been lucky enough to find two small attic rooms that her family could call home. Christa, recently married, was employed as a professional chemist in a laboratory not far away. Karin was in training at a nearby hospital and was able to spend her free time at home. Ernst was free for the winter months to study and learn more of his chosen vocation. In the spring he would enter a more advanced apprenticeship on a nearby estate. Things could have been much worse. Perhaps some day he would be able to have another year of full-time schooling, instead of the few hours a week that were the portion of the farm apprentice.
Yet, one day when spring was giving way to summer, it was at a session of the continuation school for farm apprentices that Ernst learned from his teacher that the United States Government was planning to send to America some German boys and girls between 15 and 18 years of age who wanted to be farmers. They would live on American farms and go to American high schools for a year. Ernst had just passed his seventeenth birthday. His age was right. His record in school had always been good, and, in spite of the fact that he was nearly always hungry, he was strong and healthy; and he knew a little English. But was he "outstanding," as the announcement said that the chosen must be, in "character and personality traits"? Surely there would be hundreds of applicants rejected for every one chosen. And even if he should be one of the lucky ones, would it be right, since he was the man of the family, for him to go so far away from his mother and sisters?
After the classes were over, Ernst and some of the other boys talked excitedly about this announcement and whether they should get the application forms and fill them in and send them to the Land (province) Commissioner. Some of the boys had read about a group of university students that the United States Military Government had sent over to America in January for a year of study. But this idea of sending boys as young as they was unusual. What would it be like to go all alone to a foreign country that had for so long been regarded as an enemy nation?
At this point it is well to remember that for many years, in fact for as long as boys of Ernst's age could remember, there had been anti-American propaganda campaigns in progress. Until the American occupation they had had no chance to hear anything favorable about the United States. Since the occupation they had heard and read or seen enacted on the screen so many contradictory ideas about the United States that their preconceived notions of what it was like were understandably confused. America was Wall Street and Hollywood, wild Indians and gangsters; Americans were weak and degenerate; Americans were strong and brutal; Americans were warmongers; Americans were anarchists; Americans worshiped the Almighty Dollar instead of Almighty God; Americans cared more about bathtubs and automobiles than anything else in the world. From their own experience, these boys knew that the war had no sooner ended than Americans had begun sending clothing and food to the people of Germany and that they were continuing to send such help; for months Americans had been flying food and coal to Berlin to keep the people from starving and freezing because of the blockade. They could reason that a nation that produced so much food must have good farmers, from whom German boys who wanted to become farmers could learn a good deal. Finally, since they were boys, and boys of that age, it is hard to imagine that they would not have been lured by the sheer adventure of crossing the ocean and seeing such a fabulous country with their own eyes.
On Sunday, when Ernst was free to spend the day at home, he and his mother and sisters talked of little else. Mrs. Taucher's attitude toward the possibility of her son's going to America shifted almost momently. First it was: "What a wonderful experience it would be for you, the travel, the chance to have another full year of school and to learn the language properly!" But with her next breath it was: "But it's so far away, and we don't know anyone over there, and you're so young." Back and forth she argued: "You could learn how the Americans raise such big crops. But what if no one would be friendly to you? What if the family you lived with should think of you as an enemy? And you might be ill, with no one to take care of you!" At that thought, she looked as if the ocean were already widening between herself and her son. It made Ernst laugh to see his mother taking it for granted that he would be chosen from the thousands of boys and girls who would surely make application to go, but Hanna Taucher said very spiritedly: "And why shouldn't they choose you? How could they do better---if they want healthy boys with good heads and hearts and a strong wish to be farmers and help mend this broken country back to health?"
Yet after he had filled out the application form with its dozens of questions and sent it to the Land Commissioner, it was his mother who kept warning him: "Don't set your heart on it, Ernst. Hope for it, but don't count on it. You ask for disappointment if you let yourself count on being chosen." He knew that she was right, but while his hands were busy on the farm his mind was on this special hope, and most of his thoughts began, "If only they take me---."
Weeks passed without a word. His teacher, the proprietor of the estate where he worked, and the local doctor had all written letters of recommendation for him; those letters should count for something. The waiting was hard, but finally he received instructions to go to nearby Kassel for a minor interview, then to Frankfort by train for a more important interview; on that train Ernst's spirits went up and down like a seesaw. When an American official said to him in Frankfort: "You must answer in English, we speak only English," Ernst almost gave up hope, for he had studied no English since he had become a refugee. Although he could read and write English passably, his ears were not attuned to the language and his tongue failed him. But there was another boy in the office, an applicant like Ernst, who could speak the foreign language well enough to help Ernst answer the questions put to him. While he was in Frankfort he was asked to write in English a one-page account of his life including a statement as to why he wanted to go to America. This is what Ernst wrote:
"On 30/5/32 I was born as the son of the tenant Fritz Taucher and his spouse Hanna Taucher, nee Schroth in our agricultural management at Palzwitz (Pommern) which was large 1400 acres. From the age of six to the age of nine I attended the elementary school of that place. On 1 Sep. 1941, I entered the secondary school for boys at Köslin (Pommern) which 1 attended with success to 20 Feb. 1945.
"Then I was forced to escape by the invasion of the Russian. On 26/7/45 1 found a second home at the farmer R. Lotze in Friedrichsfeld (Hessen). There I helped in the farming and attended nine months in the elementary school of that place according to my duty. On 1 April 1947 I began the apprenticeship of farming at the farmer Konrad Bestert, Carlsdorf (Hessen). On 13/10/46 I passed the examination of the agricultural labor with the mark 'Good.' In winter 1948-49 1 attended the agricultural college at Hofgeismar (Hessen) with success. On 1 April 1949 1 began my apprenticeship in the estate of Grimelsheim (Hessen) at the Lady of the Manor Miss Hagedorn. From 1/11/47 to 1 Aug. 1949 1 attended the professional school, section agriculture, once a week with success, but I interrupted the attending half a year and finished the agricultural college.
"It is my only wish to become a farmer like my ancestors. In order to reach this aim I should like to make use of every occasion to perfect me in this province. I know that I shall reach this aim in America in case the way will be smoothed. Returned to Germany again I shall attend the high school for farming in Witzenhausen (Hessen) in 1953. Later on 1 should like to study the agriculture to get the diploma in it."
A little later he was on his way home, not yet knowing whether he was one of the chosen few. The Americans at the interview had been kind. They had smiled often, and he had smiled too. No one had acted impatient or displeased with anything he said in his faltering English. But---perhaps they were like that with everyone. How long would he have to wait this time? Summer was coming to an end. Surely they must make up their minds soon if the lucky students were to reach America in time to begin school in the fall.
This wait was not very long. Ernst was one of 50 boys and girls scheduled to leave for America in September. There were more papers to fill out and sudden requests to call at this office or that, some only a few miles away, some farther. He learned that his "foster family" in the United States had the name of Lantz and lived on a farm in a placed called Monticello, in Indiana. In one of his schoolbooks he and his mother found a map of the United States that showed the State of Indiana, but they were unable to find Monticello. Before his mother could worry too much about what kind of people the Lantzes were, a letter came from Mrs. Louis B. Lantz. Together he and his mother pored over it. It was a very comforting letter for them to have before he set off for the New World. It told them how glad Mr. and Mrs. Lantz were that Ernst was going to join them, for the two of them were quite lonely with their son away at the State University in graduate work and their daughter married. It mentioned that they farmed about 250 acres, growing corn, wheat, soy beans, oats, and clover as crops, and that they raised hogs, many chickens, and some cattle. The town high school had a fine principal, and he and the teachers were glad that Ernst would be with them for the coming year. The pastor of the Lantzes' church and its congregation were awaiting him with a warm welcome, too. Everyone wanted to help make Ernst feel at home and happy in Monticello.
It happened that the Brethren had planned carefully to have every family that was sending a young son or daughter to the strange and far-away country receive a letter from the American foster family before the departure from Germany. Those letters did much to allay the understandable doubts and fears that the mothers had been suffering at the prospect of sending their young into the unknown.
The day came when Ernst boarded the train for Frankfort, where he had to pick up his travel orders before going to Bremerhaven to embark. His clothes, the pictures of his family and his old home, and his books fitted easily into his one bag. He waved good-by to his mother and sisters and some of the neighbors who had gathered on the platform to see him off. At Frankfort John H. Eberly, the Brethren's director of the German Student Program, met him and introduced him to the others in the group. By late afternoon those who had come from a distance were beginning to be hungry, and Mr. Eberly and one of his helpers began taking the German students a few at a time into the Schuman Snack Bar for supper. Ernst and his fellow students were unaware that it was customary for an American to take one German guest into this American snack bar if he wished; it was highly irregular for two Americans to feed 34 young Germans in relays over a three-hour period. But no one stopped them, and the boys and girls who needed this meal before getting on the train for Bremerhaven had it.
The group of 50 students, all refugees like Ernst, had three days at Bremerhaven, going through the usual routine of health checks, baggage inspection, and collecting cash allowances to cover their expenses aboard the troop ship. At Bremerhaven they ate with the Americans in the staging area and spent their first American money. Mr. Eberly and his helpers answered innumerable questions about what to do on shipboard and upon arrival in America. There were some speeches, too. The travelers heard themselves referred to as "young ambassadors of good will and understanding," and they were told that out of the good will and understanding they would be helping to build a bridge between the two countries.
Then they boarded the Henry Gibbins, along with 800 American soldiers, to travel as American G.I.'s travel between continents---and that is to say that the boys had little elbow room. The girls, assigned to family quarters, fared better. All agreed that the food was good and as abundant as reports of American food supply had led them to believe. However, before many hours the sea rose and both interest in food and spirit of adventure subsided rapidly in the young voyagers. For days the Atlantic was bleak and rough, and in the throes of seasickness they wondered miserably why they had ever thought it would be a fine thing to have a sea voyage or even to go to America. But at last there was a morning when Ernst and his fellows awoke to a calm sea and a healthy interest in breakfast. Again they knew elation at the thought of being on the way to the United States. As Ernst has written:
"Our trip lasted a little over nine days. And then we saw the first land growing out of the fog. The Statue of Liberty showing out of the mist. New York! We had to stay the first night in the harbor. We saw an ocean of lights turning on and off. Cars hurried up and down the streets, like lightning bugs. Through the chain of lights of the streets we saw the neon light advertisements in all colors, lighting up and down.
"The next day we were standing on top of the Empire State Building. Many hundred feet below was the gigantic city, whose living system is Speed! A kind of city I like, a city which is an adventure of its own. And wasn't it adventurers who did build this city?
"After this a bus brought us into the interior of the country, into the wide country which knows hardly any borders! To New Windsor, the Service Center of the Brethren, was the aim of our trip. There the people greeted us very heartily. They had thought about everything. As soon as we were settled a little bit, they gave us writing paper and told us, 'Now, boys, write to your mothers.' " (1)
The Brethren Service Center at New Windsor, Maryland, is housed in an old-fashioned, square, four-story white building atop a knoll. Once long ago the building was a private school for girls. Now it is just what its title suggests: a clothing factory and repair shop for the needy overseas; a handicraft school; and, at need, a home for displaced persons who need a refuge. Since the fall of 1949 it has been headquarters for the German Student Program sponsored by the Brethren. The director and his helpers welcome the students, entertain them at the center for a few days to prepare them for the next stage in their experience, keep records of each boy and girl, maintain correspondence with the foster families, and at the end of the year entertain the departing students for several days, conduct programs for them, and supervise sightseeing expeditions, finally escorting them to New York and seeing them off for home.
On the second day of Ernst's stay at New Windsor, the foster families of some of his group began to arrive in cars to take their charges home. A little wistfully Ernst watched his friends being driven away in family cars. His arrival in America had caught Mr. and Mrs. Lantz in the midst of their harvest season, and they had been unable to meet him. He was expecting to travel by bus to Indiana and privately wondering if he would be able to cope with changes at various points along the way. He had little confidence in his ability to make himself understood. However, before he was put to the test, Mr. and Mrs. David Stoner of Anderson, Indiana, arrived to pick up their student, Raimar von Platten, and, as soon as they learned that Ernst was going to live with their friends the Lantzes over in Monticello, they said, "We'll take you along with us."
So the journey that had threatened to be an ordeal was transformed into a pleasure, with some one to speak his own language along, and both of the boys consulting the German-English and English-German dictionary, a copy of which the Brethren had given to each student at New Windsor, in order to talk with the Stoners. They ate at diners or other restaurants along the highway, and they stopped overnight at a motel with showers and comfortable beds. Thursday night they reached Anderson, and Ernst spent the night at the Stoner farm. Next morning Mrs. Anderson drove both boys to the Lantz farm, six miles from Monticello.
It was about 11 o'clock of the last day of September when Ernst reached Meadowbrook Farm, with its substantial two-story white house, the many white farm buildings fanning out from the home area, and a big red barn in the background. "There I was received like a member of the family," Ernst has written in a German newspaper article. "I was asked to call my foster parents by their first names of 'Jessie' and 'Louis'." Mrs. Lantz has written: "My first impression of Ernst, so polite and courteous, was 'I'm going to like that boy. He has a kindly, straightforward countenance.' " She has explained too that her heart and her husband's went out to Ernst the more readily perhaps because his blond hair and blue eyes, his fair skin with the coloring a girl would envy, and even his smile reminded them of their youngest son who had been killed 13 years earlier by a farm horse, and they kept thinking, "If our boy had lived, he would have been like this lad."
When Mrs. Lantz showed him the room that was to be his, a sunny south bedroom, Ernst tried to tell her how wonderful it was to have a room all to himself, and such a comfortable room. He liked the Axminster rug on the floor and the full-sized bed. There was more drawer space than he could imagine one boy filling, and there was a desk with a good student light. There was a place for books, two good chairs, in fact everything that a boy needed for his comfort. Mrs. Lantz could not understand his words, but his face told her how much he liked the room.
Before Ernst could examine the farm machinery that he had glimpsed and see the livestock, there was the hearty noon dinner that Mrs. Lantz had prepared for the family and the guest from Anderson. Mr. Lantz said grace before the meal. That made it like home, even though Ernst could understand few of the words, and truly this dinner was something to be thankful for. Everything was so abundant and so good: chicken, potatoes and gravy, green vegetables, hot bread with as much butter as one wanted, pickles and jam, and dessert besides, thick cream for coffee, and, what was most wonderful of all, all the fresh milk one could drink! For years now there had been no milk at all in Germany, except for babies, and not enough for them. As he ate the good food, his clothes, which were to begin with a little small for him, felt tighter and tighter. If he ate like this every day, he would soon be unable to get into those clothes at all, and that would be a serious problem, or so he thought.
The kitchen was a country kitchen only by reason of its size. There was no crowding even with the large table and all of them sitting around it. Otherwise, it was more like a laboratory with the gleaming white enamel cabinet units that ran the full length of the room, the electrical conveniences, the big windows with immaculate venetian blinds over the sink. How different it was from the dingy, inconvenient kitchen that his mother shared with another family in Carlsdorf, having to run back and forth between the ground-floor kitchen and the attic rooms. He wished that he could share this bounty with his mother and sisters.
After dinner Mr. Lantz showed Ernst the farm. The collie dog followed them wherever they went. Ernst had made friends with the collie on sight, and when Ernst stopped to examine the power machinery several cats came and purred around his ankles. For years there had been no food in Germany to share with pets, and Ernst loved animals. That afternoon Mrs. Lantz took a picture of him with his arms around the collie, and later he sent a print home to his mother. However, his chief interest that afternoon was in the power machinery: two farm tractors and a small garden tractor, an amazing piece of machinery called a "combine" that harvested and threshed crops while moving about the field, equipment that would plant two rows of corn at a time, automatic corn husker, electric feed grinder, grain elevator, electric milking machine for the dairy herd, even an electric chicken picker, besides many electrical tools in the farm shop. Then there was a Ford truck with a large grain bed and also a stock rack for hauling cattle and hogs to market. Ernst began to understand how Mr. and Mrs. Lantz, with only one helper, could operate such a farm. In Pomerania it had taken 26 families of workers to operate his father's farm with hand labor and horse-drawn implements.
Before the day ended, what seemed to Ernst the most astonishing thing of all happened. Mr. Johnson, the pastor of the little rural church which the Lantzes attended, came to the farm to greet Ernst personally. The Tauchers belonged to the Lutheran Church in Germany, but Mrs. Taucher and Ernst had agreed that he should attend his foster family's church while he lived in the United States. His mother had said, "Surely the church that such kind people belong to will be a good one for you to know." In Germany pastors, like teachers, were set apart by the dignity of their calling. They preached to you on Sundays, and at need they baptized, confirmed, married, or buried you.
It would have been most extraordinary for a German pastor to go out of his way to call on an impoverished young foreigner who did not even belong to the pastor's church, just to make the newcomer feel at home in the community.
Saturday afternoon Ernst's fear that he would burst out of his old clothes and have nothing he could get into came to an end. Mrs. Lantz drove him to town and bought him a complete set of clothes, the kind that American high-school boys wear. There were new socks, slacks, shirts, sweaters, shoes, a hat, and his first real suit. His English might be so poor that he had to talk in sign language and by leafing through the German-English dictionary, but he would start high school in clothes like those the American boys wore. "The way he patted the sleeves of the coat and pointed to his new shoes as he said, almost caressingly, 'Oh, too good for me,' just made tears come to our eyes," Mrs. Lantz has written.
Sunday morning Ernst went to church with the Lantzes, and suddenly he heard the pastor saying from the pulpit: "We are happy to welcome our German student, Ernst Taucher, into our midst, and we hope he will soon feel quite at home here." Some of the people in the congregation turned to look at the stranger, and although their expressions were friendly, Ernst felt his face burning at being the center of this attention. After the services the people gathered around and shook his hand, saying things that he could not understand but knew were kind. Driving home with his foster family to Sunday dinner, Ernst pondered: "To think that it was people like these that we were taught to hate back in the war years!"
This thought of Ernst's was one that the records show as common to his group within a few days after they reached the communities that were to be their homes for the next year. It was rarely the welcome from the foster family that produced the thought, warm though the welcome might be, for the boys and girls assumed that a family that volunteered to take into its midst a stranger and foreigner was exceptional. It was usually upon meeting with friendliness and good will at church, in school, or just among the neighbors that it suddenly came to them: "'And it was people like these that we were taught to hate.'"
Ernst had another experience of small-community friendliness the following Sunday, when after services many of the congregation brought him "Shower" gifts as a welcome, simple, personal things, such as writing paper, books of stamps, pencils, handkerchiefs, socks, ties, a cap. Ernst had a great deal to write home about in his first days of American life.
School had started three weeks before Ernst's arrival at Meadowbrook Farm. After the first day Ernst would ride on one of the school busses, but on Monday morning Mrs. Lantz drove him to the Roosevelt High School in Monticello. She introduced him to the superintendent, Mr. Gillespie, and the high-school principal, Mr. Ryan, and again Ernst was surprised. He had been sure that, even in America, teachers would be formal and stand-offish. He had thought that it was the way of teachers to be stiff and proud and set apart because of their learning. But these two high officials of the school greeted him in the simple, friendly manner of everyday people. Then the four of them sat down and discussed what courses he should take. That too surprised him, because in Germany the student had no choice. They settled on the agricultural course and put him in the second year of the American high school. He was to study dairying and poultry for the first half year and stock raising and breeding, with some study of soils, for the second. In addition he took English, world history, industrial arts (shop and mechanical drawing), and physical education.
Privately Ernst thought that it was a very easy course of study and that the hours of school were short. Before he had become a refugee and when he was at boarding school, he had been in class from 8 in the morning until 6 at night. Before he had finished what the Americans called elementary school, he had been studying higher mathematics and sciences and a foreign language, all courses reserved for much older students in America. Here everything should be easy---once he understood English better. Mr. Ryan said that he was sure the English would take care of itself in short order and told Ernst that already some of the teachers and students had asked to have him talk to their classes about Germany. Ernst blushed at thought of making a speech in his faltering English, but Mr. Ryan was saying: "You see, we expect to learn just as much from you as you will from us." That was something to think about. It had not occurred to Ernst that he had anything of value to off offer these people who seemed to have everything.
At first school was a very strange experience. It was odd, in fact distracting, to have girls in the same school and in the same classes with boys of his age. In Germany girls and boys were segregated wherever possible, from the first grade on. In the American high school nobody stood at attention when a teacher entered the classroom, and in the halls or on the street students and teachers greeted each other most informally. It was either "Hello" or "Hi." In fact, the better the students liked a teacher the more likely it was to be "Hi." Classes were like discussion groups. Then there was the Student Council, that helped the faculty to decide how the school should be run. Ernst attended some meetings of the Student Council so that he could see how democracy worked in the school. He discovered that in the American high school there were combined the ingredients of various types of German schools. Here anyone preparing for the university could take in addition to the necessary academic studies such subjects as typing and shorthand, agriculture, machine shop, bookkeeping, and accounting. In certain of his classes, such as English and history, there were some students who were primarily interested in a commercial course, some in agriculture, some in becoming teachers, doctors, or lawyers, all in the same class. It seemed to him that in the American high school a student got to know more kinds of people and something about many more fields of knowledge and skill than he did in the German schools that bridged the gap between the Grundschule (elementary school), that was free, and the university.
His school friends and the teachers in Monticello were interested in hearing about German schools. In Germany, he told them, at the fifth grade there was an additional separation of pupils, according to the pupil's aptitude and the financial ability of the parents to pay tuition. Those with both good brains and well-to-do parents went along the academic path toward the Abitur, or examinations for entrance to a university. Those with good brains and poor parents had to go with those of less intelligence along one or another of the vocational paths in school. Perhaps "tunnel" was a better word than "path," because, once one was committed to one way, there was virtually no possibility of getting into another without going back to the beginning, and the student in one tunnel knew nothing of what anyone in any other tunnel learned and experienced. At the same time, it seemed to Ernst that the American high-school student was almost too happy-go-lucky and didn't understand much about studying hard or about making real use of the advantages he had---such as the school library with its fine collection of books. Perhaps, he said, it was because of so many activities at school that took time away from the real studies.
At that point his teachers and the students pointed out to him that those activities were just as important as the academic subjects. They were important because they taught young people to work together and to get along together. They were a preparation for grown-up life and taking part in community affairs, just as self-government in the school was a preparation for assuming the duties of citizenship in a democracy.
However, Ernst soon found himself enjoying the activities very much. Before he knew it he was a member of the Boys' Athletic Association, the Agricultural Club, the Glee Club, and the Braves' Council of the high school. Outside school he was active in the 4-H junior Leaders' Club. And when he joined the 4-H Club at meetings and on visits to the members' homes to observe individual projects, he learned that these carefree boys and' girls were really capable of hard work and seriousness. Most of them had been in the 4-H Club since elementary-school days, and, of course, the longer they had been in the more impressive their projects were, whether poultry, animal husbandry, or crops. Ernst's own project began with four rabbits; later he acquired a suckling pig to raise by hand for market. He began to think of a year as a very short time---certainly it was a short time to develop a 4--H Club activity. And yet, even in the few weeks that he had been in Monticello, it had become so much easier for him to express his thoughts in English and to understand the rapid speech of Americans---even their slang.
Before Ernst had been with them a month, Mr. and Mrs. Lantz too began to think that a year was a very short time. They wanted badly to keep Ernst with them as a permanent member of the family. If that were impossible, they hoped that there would be some way of getting an extension of his stay for an extra year. They had become deeply interested in Ernst's sister, Hella, too. They knew from the way Ernst spoke of her that she was close to his heart and that he worried about her. Hella, scarcely more than a year older than Ernst, had had no chance to go to school since the family had become refugees. Without training, she could earn very little even when work was to be had. Mr. and Mrs. Lantz thought that there might be some way of getting the Government to bring Hella to the United States; if so, they would pay her way to Indiana and welcome her into their family. In late October Mrs. Lantz wrote to Mr. Eberly, director of the German Student Program for the Brethren, saying of Ernst:
". . .We have learned to love him very much. He is clean, of good appearance, pleasing personality, and has a winning smile which is almost past understanding when one learns little by little of all the sorrows, hardships, and suffering that befell him these last few years. He is rapidly overcoming his language handicap, and the principal and teachers agree that Ernst's presence in school is doing something for our local youth, giving them a different understanding and attitude toward foreign youth." Then she broached the subject of bringing Hella to the United States and asked if it would be possible to have Ernst's stay extended or made permanent, concluding:
"Our only son (living) will graduate in June with a master's degree in accounting and business administration from Indiana University and so isn't likely to return to the farm. Our one daughter is married. So we could easily take into our family these Taucher children."
Both Ernst and Mrs. Lantz wrote to Ernst's mother about this plan, and then, while they were waiting for answers, they prepared a box of food to ship to the Taucher family in Germany. Ernst had wanted to buy it all out of his $10 monthly allowance, but his foster family insisted on contributing the more expensive items. Into the box went food that was commonplace in the United States but scarce or prohibitively expensive in Germany: tins of butter, powdered milk, powdered eggs, bacon, corned beef, ham, coffee, and chocolate; packages of sugar and dried fruits; some candy bars. The box was on its way across the Atlantic by the time that Mrs. Taucher's answer to the letters reached Meadowbrook Farm. She wrote that for their good she was willing to "become separated" from two of her children for a while and reported that Hella was "building hopeful air castles."
Hopes rose and fell as letters shuttled across the Atlantic. A refugee in fact, Hella, being a German national, could not be included in the category of refugees or displaced persons eligible to free transportation to the United States, and she had passed beyond the teen-age project limits. Her only way of getting to the United States would be to apply for admission under the immigration quota and await her turn. Mr. and Mrs. Lantz offered to pay for her paper clearance in Germany and all expenses of travel from Germany if she wanted to come as an immigrant. But Mrs. Taucher did not want her children to leave their homeland permanently, and so Hella's "hopeful air castles" collapsed. There was a much longer period of waiting before the question of Ernst's extension of stay could be settled.
There was much for Ernst to do that fall, on the farm, at school, and in his leisure time. Day by day at the farm he learned more about large-scale poultry raising with the tremendous flock of purebred white Plymouth Rocks for which Meadowbrook Farm was famous, becoming competent to grind and mix the feed for the different types of chickens, small and large, fryers and layers. He learned to operate the fascinating power machinery and tools. He went with his agriculture class to Indianapolis to the International Dairy Show. He and Mr. Lantz went with the class and its teacher in the school bus to Chicago to a livestock show and didn't get home until 2:30 the next morning. He found a special friend in John Orstadt, son of Monticello's furniture dealer. John was a freshman at DePauw University in Greencastle, but he often came home for week ends, and the boys became cronies. They discovered that Ernst was just enough smaller than John to be able to use some good clothes that John had suddenly outgrown. Then there were parties and shows to go to.
Near Christmas Mrs. Lantz asked Ernst if he wouldn't like to invite Raimar von Platten, his countryman, to spend part of the holidays with him. Mrs. Lantz wrote to Mrs. Stoner in Anderson to arrange the visit, and Ernst wrote to Raimar. After the harsh years when "home" had been a portion of a bombed building, a shed, or at best the two small rooms that his mother and sisters-now had, he, Ernst Hermann Taucher, was in a position to write to a friend and say, "Come and stay with me during the holidays," knowing that there was plenty of room for the guest, together with warmth and good food and a hearty welcome.
The holidays were too busy a time to allow him much opportunity to feel homesick or sad at being so far from his family. His foster family and his friends saw to that. For days before and days after Christmas, there was visiting back and forth among friends, and every house exhaled fragrances of good things cooking. The church had to be decorated for its festivities, and there was the tree at home to be trimmed. The Lantzes' married daughter came home with her husband and new baby for Christmas, and the son was home from the university. Here as in Germany there was much singing of carols at the Christmas season. The music was the same but the words were in English. It was easier for him to hear the English words, to sing the English words, himself. Yet when the new friends asked him to sing "Stille Nacht" in his own tongue at church and at home, he sang for them, and his voice was true and steady.
There was a great feast on Christmas Day at Mrs. Lantz's mother's home, with relatives gathered from near and far. They called the dinner "turkey with all the trimmings." And, one and all, they treated him as if he were indeed one of the family. Giving and receiving presents and hospitality, singing, coming from the icy whiteness of the outside world into the warmth and light of the welcoming house, all these things were Christmas, in America as in the Old World. John was home from college, and Raimar came for a few days after Christmas. There was the pleasure of showing Raimar the sights and introducing him to friends and, above all, having him to compare notes with on the whole American experience. One night the Lantz family took Ernst and Raimar over to visit with their friends the Orstadts. Ernst and Raimar went upstairs to John's room to enjoy not too serious but very satisfying boys' talk. Echoes of their pleasure drifted below, and Mr. Orstadt said to his guests: "Just listen to their good times! I tell you, this kind of thing does more good than all the Marshall dollars to make peace and understanding."
The winter was long in Indiana, and the earth rested beneath its blanket of snow. The livestock drowsed the time away in their snug shelters, coming thoroughly awake only at feeding time. Work was light in the winter; there was more time for reading, visiting friends, and writing letters. And, since highways were kept clear, Ernst was able to get his driver's license in January. After that, when he took a girl he liked to a dance or a show, he was allowed to use the family car. In that period he frequently talked at the various rural churches of the vicinity. He no longer needed to keep his German-American dictionary under his arm or to use sign language. His English teacher at high school was also pastor of two small rural churches, and Ernst, feeling shy but duty-bound to tell people what they wanted to know about his own country, got up on his feet and talked to small congregations, his English teacher-pastor's and Mr. Johnson's, too.
In April, with the spring thaw, the tempo of life changed. Everyone on Meadowbrook Farm was busy from dawn till the last light. On Saturdays Ernst took his turn at driving a tractor back and forth across the wide fields, plowing and harrowing the rich, dark earth, preparing it to receive the new plantings of oats, wheat, clover, corn, and soy. Back in Germany it was planting season too, but there the farmers had little of what they needed. The land was exhausted still from the years of intensive wartime farming, the equipment was worn out, and there was little chance of getting new, modern implements. Even with poor equipment, hand labor, and with luck a horse or two, the German farmer could manage if he could get nitrogenous fertilizers to rebuild his land. But nitrogenous fertilizers were short because coal was short, and it takes seven or eight tons of coal to produce a ton of nitrogenous fertilizer.
Coal was short because the miners hadn't enough to eat to produce much coal, and steel for railway transportation of the coal was short because Germany couldn't produce enough exports to get the imports that would allow the railroads to function. There was an endless circle of want in Germany, but here in America a good farmer could get what he needed when he needed it.
Perhaps it was only the good farmer in Ernst that made him take such heady delight in guiding the heavy tractor up and down, but there may have been in that feeling a trace of the small boy's zest for manipulating machinery. He planted much of the vegetable garden, too, helped prune the berries and the family orchard, and gave a good deal of his time to the new life that spring brought. There were hundreds of day-old chicks for the brooders weekly; the hog pens were swarming with squealing shoats---as Ernst had learned to call suckling pigs. There were many new, calves. Whether he worked with the soil and watched his own plantings thrust up from the ground or tended the animal young, Ernst was putting down roots in this American earth, roots that would make his removal more difficult and painful.
The fact that young human beings do put down roots in a favorable environment poses a serious problem in the exchange program for high-school age boys and girls. In this particular program, if the purpose were the preparation of these children for future immigration to and citizenship in the United States there would be no problem. But these bright youngsters are Germany's hope for the future and also the United States Government's hope for Germany; it is to the interest of neither country to have them turn into Americans. Nevertheless we are asking a great deal of them, and we are relying on a degree of seriousness, emotional maturity, and willingness to sacrifice their personal interests to the common good, in these youngsters, that few of us would expect of our own 15- to 18-year-old sons and daughters. We have plucked the brightest and most promising of Germany's boys and girls from their native environment, which for years has been a harsh one, lacking adequate food, clothing, and shelter, and we set them down for a year in the midst of American plenty to live and learn our democratic way of life. Then we send them back to not enough of anything material, bidding them to help build a democratic Germany out of the rubble and defeatism of their country. It is too early to determine whether we are expecting too much of our young visitors. However, the United States Government and the cooperating sponsors of the program believe in them to such an extent that the Department of State and its cooperating private agencies brought several hundred more boys and girls of this age group to America before the first year's groups had returned to Germany.
For Ernst the final month of the school year at Roosevelt High School in Monticello was full of a number of things besides final examinations: parties, the senior play, commencement. Then there was summer on the farm, and he could give the full day to the work he most loved. In early July Willi Luh arrived from Germany at the Lantz farm, for the Lantzes, regardless of whether they could keep Ernst for a second year, had opened their home to a second German boy. For Ernst it was fun to have Willi to work with and talk to and to know that this newcomer was feeling the same wonder and excitement that he had felt only last fall. Willi had a certain advantage in that he had been studying English up to the last moment in Germany, whereas Ernst had not studied it for nearly four years before his year in America. But there was wistfulness in Ernst's heart when he thought of how Willi had a whole year ahead of him, while his own time was probably running out. There had been no final word about the extension of stay for Ernst.
A few days after Willi Luh arrived a reporter from the town paper came to interview the two German boys. Ernst spoke his honest opinion. Said Ernst: "American schools offer many opportunities but the youth as a whole do not fully appreciate them. The library at school is wonderful. I could read some each day and always learn something, but they do not take advantage of it." (2) Ernst thought that perhaps the fact that American boys and girls got so much free education made them a bit careless of the advantages that they had. But he had loved his year in America. He wanted very much to have another.
In America, as in Germany, the boys found that the weather was hottest, the sun most scorching, during the haying season, and here too the air was sweet with the smell of new-mown hay and drowsy with the hum of bees. Here, after hard work in the fields, there was all the good food that a hungry boy could eat. In Germany there was never quite enough to satisfy healthy hunger.
It was in the haying season that the letter came. Mrs. Lantz read the letter first and sighed. Mr. Lantz read it and looked very thoughtful. Then he handed it to Ernst. It was a kind and friendly letter, but there was something final about it. It explained that the purpose of bringing these young people to America was to give them a year of a very fine experience in the American way of living so that they could go back and help to rebuild their own country into a peaceful, democratic nation. That country was all but destitute of young leaders capable of the task before them. The more young people who could benefit by this opportunity to spend a year in the United States at the expense of the Government and cooperating agencies, the better. But the whole program would be defeated if these future leaders of Germany decided to emigrate to the United States, and the program would be seriously hampered if all who wanted to stay on for an extra year should be allowed to do so. Twenty-two out of Ernst's group of 50 had requested extension, and some of their foster parents had been so determined to keep them that they had written to their Congressmen about getting extensions. If Ernst stayed another year, not only would his country be without his help at the time that he had promised to give help, but some other boy or girl would be denied the privilege of having a year in America at this time.
After a little Ernst managed to say: "I guess it wouldn't be fair for me to stay. I was wanting the good times and the wonderful experiences here to go on and forgetting that I have a promise to keep over in Germany."
Mrs. Lantz reminded him that his mother would be very proud to have her son back and able to answer everyone's questions about America and able to speak English just like an American. She went on to say how she herself felt exactly as if Ernst were her own son and that his mother and sisters were very near friends, even though she had never seen them. A field man of the Brethren had written from Germany of Hanna Taucher, Ernst's mother: "She is a very courageous and charming lady." All the letters that Mrs. Lantz had had from Mrs. Taucher had borne out that description; but how Mrs. Taucher must have missed her son.
Ernst knew well how brave his mother was. There had been two occasions when her courage had nearly cost her her life before a Soviet firing squad. It would be part of Ernst's job to see that his mother had less need of showing so much courage. He would go back to Germany and try to make Mrs. Lantz's words about his mother's being proud of him come true. But it was going to be hard to say good-by to the Lantzes and to this farm and to all his American friends.
From New Windsor there came a schedule of last days for Ernst and the other German students, and in spite of his sadness at thought of leaving Monticello he began to look forward to the reunion with his group. The students were to have several days at New Windsor, and on one of them the whole group would go to Washington for a tour of the Nation's Capital and to meet the men and women of the State Department who administered the exchange program for students. Finally there would be two days in New York, with sightseeing in the great city which he had only glimpsed at the time of his arrival from Germany, and his group would be taken to visit the United Nations General Assembly. The crowning adventure was in the way of return to Germany, for the group was to fly the Atlantic and Ernst had never been in a plane.
His last month at Monticello seemed no longer than a week. He made a speech before the Kiwanis Club, and the businessmen of the club asked him so many questions about his country afterwards that his head was swimming by the time the chairman called a halt. A few days later, to his surprise, he received $25 from the club, to help with his education back in Germany. Then 125 of his school friends gave him a farewell party at the home of a girl he had dated during the year and presented him with a silver identification bracelet with his name engraved on the top and on the other side, "From the gang at Monti Hi." Finally there was the problem of packing his store of clothes and books, the little bedside table that he had made in his industrial-arts class, the radio that one of his friends had given him, and the presents for his mother and sisters. When he had come to America his worldly goods had fitted easily into one bag. Now they overflowed the 65-pound allowance for plane travel into a huge packing box, which was to be sent by ship.
It helped enormously to have Mr. and Mrs. Lantz decide to take a vacation and drive him to New Windsor. They drove through pleasant country in bright September weather, and at New Windsor there was a sense of homecoming. There was also a great deal to do in a short time. The students prepared the copy for a little magazine called Das Letzte Echo that was a record of their impressions and experiences. Mr. Eberly said he would have it mimeographed and send each of them a copy in Germany. They spent a good many hours in discussion of their future course in Germany, what they should do and also what they should not do. Much of these discussions and the thinking behind them is reflected in the pages of Das Letzte Echo. Here is one sample:
"Only a small part of this program has come to an end now---to quite an extent it was the nice and enjoyable part of it. What lies before us now will mean a hard task and more responsibility than we had in this past year. What we have done was more or less to collect impressions and ideas of new and better ways. What has to be done now is to transplant some of those things which we have grown to like so much about this great country into our Germany and to do our part, which is not unimportant, in building out of ruins the shining walls of a new great republic. What we have done was to make friends over here and to overcome any feelings of hatred or mistrust which may have been in us or in the hearts of our friends here. What remains to be done is to work in our country, in our homes, and communities untiringly to let people there feel some of our friendship towards America and her people and to make them feel that America is friendly towards them. Those are great tasks in the mistrust and bitterness of our times, but I am firmly confident that we are able to achieve our parts if we put our whole abilities into it.
"It is no use to duck behind our youth and refuse to bear our responsibility with the reason that we are too young to do anything. . . . We will in a very few years be the people who have to bear all the responsibility in our nation and we might just as well get used to it now. . . . Let us do our job not forgetting that we are in fact saying 'Thank you' to America and her people by doing so."(3)
Here is another:
". . . Meeting the other students we noticed that we have changed a lot and not only in appearance, but also in thoughts.
"Probably all of us are proud of our new and beautiful clothing. The first days of our stay we admired everything new, but after a while we got used to it. Now we are going home, and we have more than we really need. Do we know that it might be better not to wear them all, because our first goal is to make friends and a lot of new things can be our enemies?
"The same thing with money. Here we had our own spending money and saved some to take back. For the folks home we shall be rich and easily we could play the millionaire, but money isn't the main thing and if we don't show off with it, we shall be more satisfied with ourselves and people with us.
". . . we had very many experiences which are only dreams for quite a few people at home. Arriving we feel like bubbling over, but doesn't that bring much danger? An example is the school. We can't go there and tell them what we did here and expect them to change at once. They would look at us pretty funny, if we would start lecturing about America. Our actions have to show the difference and if we talk, we have to think twice before we open our mouth.
" . . . We learned to use freedom in every way, not only in school and social life, but also at home. Let us never betray the idea of freedom with using it in the wrong way."(4)
All the students answered in writing the question: "What value do you place on your visit to America?" This is what Ernst wrote:
"Improving attitude towards Americans as a whole, learning the American way of life, school system, church life, way of farming and last of all great improvement in speaking the English language.
"I---as the rest of us German students-will do my best to help to get a better friendship, a better understanding, between the people of our two nations, by telling them the truth about the Americans, their sincere attitude of worshiping God (concerning the ones that attend church and belong to church), about the personal freedom I found here, a freedom of the individual which is not to be found in any other country of the world. Democracy should be the aim of any people along with true Christianity."
The Washington adventure began with the early morning ride down on the bus. Soon they saw ahead of them on the Rockville Pike a large sign reading, "Welcome to Washington, the Nation's Capital." To quote from the student chronicler of the tour, at the National Cathedral: "Awed we stood in front of the high altar and heard the guide mention the enormous value and weight of the different figures." At the Lincoln Memorial: "We saw the statue of the best-loved President of the United States. Seeing Lincoln's vigorous statue and reading some of his speeches makes it clear to many of us how and why America became the nation it is today." The Capitol was "the place where the heart of democracy beats." They found themselves "caved in by books in the Library of Congress." In the Senate Office Building they met Senator Langer, "who talked with our whole group and seemed very interested in us." And then:
"The end and the climax of our day in Washington was the visit to the State Department where we had a meeting with several men of leading positions. They discussed with us ideas and problems that we were confronted with and are going to be in Germany on our return. They incouraged [sic] us to act and talk as ambassadors of good will and understanding between two nations--our nations."(5)
Mr. and Mrs. Lantz drove Ernst to New York and stayed with the students at Columbia University's International House. The stay in New York was breathless in pace and exciting from first to last. Then it was over and the students were at the airport. Mr. Eberly, who had waved them off to the United States from Bremerhaven just a year earlier, now waved them off to Frankfort from the United States. Standing beside him were the Lantzes. The great plane roared upward, and Ernst and his group were on their way to carry out the most difficult part of their mission.
Their mission in Germany is twofold, practical and idealistic. They have learned the most advanced American farming techniques and how to use the most up-to-date farming equipment. Now they are expected to help modernize German agriculture by adapting American methods to German conditions. However, Germany has only old, worn-out implements. The German farmer is lucky if he has a horse or two. A tractor is something he may dream about but certainly not hope to have for some time to come. The returned students were enthusiastic about the 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America. They want to organize Germany's rural youth in similar fashion, but they are aware that the German Government has no funds to spare for sponsoring such organizations. Nevertheless, they are working on plans for establishing something in the nature of a 4-H Club for Germany. This is the practical side of their mission.
The idealistic side may well be more frustrating than the practical. These young people are enthusiastic about democratic processes, liberty under law, freedom to express an opinion without fear of persecution. They sincerely want Germany to have these blessings and are prepared to create a desire for them in as many Germans old and young as they possibly can. But they are up against a long tradition of authoritarianism in their country, habitual submission to authority, docility on the part of the people. Their way is not going to be easy, and how much opposition, rebuff, jealousy, or sheer apathy they can take without losing their youthful zest and crusading spirit is as yet an unanswered question. At the same time, their experience has so set them apart from others of their age that they are decidedly in the limelight. They are asked to write articles for German newspapers and to make speeches before adult audiences as well as before schools. That kind of celebrity might we'll turn a youthful head. However, Ernst and many of his fellows were asked to speak to American groups about Germany and seemed to weather the experience without bad effects.
A few weeks after reaching home Ernst wrote to Mr. Eberly:
"I'm getting used to the 'old country' again. It's been kind of hard though. At first everything seemed so small and narrow to me. I'm glad I don't have the time to think too much about the past year. There are many things I miss in Germany, but yet I'm happy to be home. I'm always trying not to think about you, Lantzes, my school and church community, New Windsor, etc., because it makes me want to see all of them again, but sometimes I can't help crossing the ocean in thoughts."
And to Mrs. Lantz he wrote more recently:
"I have been busy preparing speeches and newspaper articles. This week I have a speech to give every night, with 150 to 200 in the audience.
". . . The principal Of the school where my mother teaches has invited me to give two speeches next week to two different groups of students."
At the same time Ernst is working hard in school, taking 11 subjects and going six hours a day for six days a week. Most of the time he cooks dinner and washes the dishes for his mother, who works at her school until 6 in the evening. He has to study until midnight or later most nights. He and his mother are equally determined that he shall have a full education, and Mrs. Tauscher has no doubt in her mind that Ernst's year in America was for the best. To Mrs. Lantz she wrote:
"Every time I'm looking at my son, and every time I see how he grew while under your care, I'm thinking with great thankfulness to you and your family. He has gained a lot physically and spiritually. When he left Germany he was behind a little in many ways, caused by many hard years and bad experiences. Now he is happy, satisfied with everything, free in his actions, and coming along with others well. . . . It's hard for Ernst to get used to our way of life again, after having been in a free country with such high standard of life. Our own economical conditions, as well as the social contrasts and the dark future, are things that make him kind of uneasy yet."
The program for exposing German boys and girls to the American way of life and sending them back home to practice what they have learned is in its infancy. Time will tell how great a dividend this investment of American dollars in German youth will pay. The Department of State, the sponsoring organizations, the families who take the girls and boys into their homes, and the personal friends that they make in this country believe strongly that the dividends will be substantial. Ernst said of his feelings upon starting high school in Monticello with his language handicap: "I felt like a man who had jumped into a swimming pool and couldn't swim. But I did swim myself free!" It is probable that with the confidence of family and friends in their ability to do so, Ernst and his fellows will continue to swim themselves free.