Nancy Parker and Gertrude McCoy
young Midwest Quaker women, Nancy Parker and Gertrude McCoy, spent the
1938-39 academic year teaching at a Quaker school in
. At the Friends School of Ramallah, they taught a variety of
subjects, and supervised many of the Muslim and Christian
students—which at times included having them lie on the floor when
battles between the British and Palestinians came too close. Nancy and
Gertrude both fell in love with the land and their students, but had
only signed on for one year.
was to be a delegate to the German Quaker Yearly Meeting in August
1939, while Gertrude had gotten a post in a school in the German town
a month in
, where she experienced women hissing at her for wearing rouge and
lipstick, and soldiers threatening her when she did not offer “Heil
Hitler”. Just before school was to open, soldiers took the
headmaster in the middle of the night, and banged on her door: “If
you don’t go back to the
today, you will have to work for Hitler”. She sailed back in a ship
filled with others escaping the impeding war—including the Joseph
Kennedy family of
and renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini.
also felt the fear that pervaded
. She, too, was hissed at when she did not say “Heil Hitler” and
German Quakers told her to always be careful, as the Gestapo was
present at all Quaker meetings. Only when inside a Friend’s
apartment or way out in the country after a long hike was she able to
hear her hosts’ grief and frustrations. She was even careful not to
write her impressions in her journal while she was there. She, too,
had narrow escapes leaving
, but did make it home safely, despite the terror of the times.
later vividly described her experiences in Notes
from Ramallah, 1939.