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Nancy Parker and Gertrude McCoy

Two young Midwest Quaker women, Nancy Parker and Gertrude McCoy, spent the 1938-39 academic year teaching at a Quaker school in Palestine . 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. Nancy 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 of Ambach , near Munich .
          Gertrude spent a month in Germany , 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 U.S. 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 Boston and renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini.
          Nancy also felt the fear that pervaded Germany . 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 Germany , but did make it home safely, despite the terror of the times.
She later vividly described her experiences in Notes from Ramallah, 1939.