| Home |


For the Teacher…

We welcome you and your students to Far from Hitler: The Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees, 1939-43.  To enrich your experience we have prepared activities for middle-level students that may be completed before or after viewing the exhibit.

Activity II may be used during the visit to the exhibit, as a supplement to the follow-up discussion, or as an assessment of the student’s experiences at the exhibit.


Activity II

INSTRUCTIONS:  After reading the Introduction and Identify the Question, have each student choose a question to investigate during his/her visit to the exhibit.  The question may not be from the list given.  It may be one generated by the student.  After looking at the photos and documents in the packet, have the student Make Predictions about what is happening or what is the significance of each.  After viewing the exhibit students may Evaluate Predictions then Develop Generalizations and revise their inferences about Scattergood Hostel. 

I.  Introduction

Scattergood School, West Branch, Iowa, had been closed since 1931 following the depression.  But from 1939-43, the former Quaker boarding school reopened and became a place of refuge for European Jews and other opponents of Hitler’s National Socialist regime.  One hundred and eighty-six refugees found safety and smiling, caring faces from the staff at Scattergood.  In general, refugees stayed at the hostel anywhere from several weeks up to a few months.  During that time, they soaked up Iowa culture and learned the skills they needed to live in America. 

II.  Identify the question 

What was it like to arrive in the United States where the land, language, dress, food and lifestyle seemed strange?  Who were the “guests” at the hostel?  Where were they from?  How did they feel about this new land?  What experiences did they face as they struggled to make a new life in a strange land?  How did they endure the separation from their friends and families?  Who are the Friends?  Why did they want to help immigrants during WW II?  What lessons can we learn about our responsibilities in helping new immigrants adapt to a new home in the United States? 

What experiences did the immigrants encounter in the United States?  How did their lifestyles in America differ from their lives in their home countries?  How did they feel about living in the United States?  What challenges did they face?  Why should we be interested in the Scattergood Hostel?  What did the hostel offer the new arrivals?  How did hostel staff help the “guests?” How might we gather information about the “guests” and their experiences at Scattergood?  What happened to the immigrants after they left the hostel? 

Write below a question about the hostel that you would like to investigate:



III.  Make predictions (Using the Appendices) 

-By examining photographs and artifacts

-By examining newsletters, logs, newspaper articles, personal communications 

A. The Place, Scattergood

Photo #1                    The Main Building                                                                               

Photo #2                    The Garden (tomato harvest or harrowing)                                           

Photo #3                    The Road to Scattergood (rural landscape)                                          

Document #1              Excerpt from Brochure about Scattergood Hostel                                 

Document #2              Photo of lecture, picnic, or drying dishes…”work”                               

B. The Staff

Photo #1                    Bob Berquist                                                                                            

Photo #2                    John Kaltenback                                                                                        

Photo #3                    Walter & Sara Stanley                                                                               

Document #1             Letter by Sara Pemberton                                                                        

Document #2             WB Times newspaper articles by Camilla Hewson or “a typical day…”       

            C. The “Guests”

Photo #1                    George Krauthamer                                                                                

Photo #2                    The Deutsch Family                                                                                 

Photo #3                    Edith Lichtenstein article                                                                           

Document #1             Newspaper article, first guests arriving                                                   

Document #2             Strudel making                                                                                            

III.  Evaluate Predictions 

After students make their predictions about the significance of photos, documents, and artifacts to the lives of the Scattergood Hostel participants, they can review the interpretations and actual comments at the exhibit.  Were their predictions consistent?

What new questions and issue arise?  What additional information is needed? 

IV.             Develop Generalizations 

Students then revise their inferences and develop generalizations about the difficulties faced by immigrants in America.  Students might make connections with immigrant issues in Iowa today.   Follow-up group discussion. 

V.                Investigate Other Resource Information 

Students may wish to extend their research by using the Bibliography to investigate other primary and secondary sources.  Students may choose to create a project or product to show what they have learned.


A. A Personal Story

The story of Boris Jaffe and his daughter, Tamara, is a poignant reminder of how war disrupts and often fractures families.  From the documents provided, read the story of their lives. Develop an interview with Boris Jaffe as he anticipates seeing his daughter after several years of separation.  Write questions and responses.  Present your interview in an authentic context.  (Washington Post, May 31-June 6, 1981) 

B. Celebrations at the Hostel 

Using photographs, letters, and news articles write a report on ways the hostel staff helped the guests feel at home and yet learn about American holidays. 

a. Birthdays (Bob Berquist)

b. Christmas

c. Fourth of July picnics 

C. Children at the Hostel 

Research the children who attended the hostel.  Write a narrative of historical fiction of a child’s experiences at the hostel.

a. Irmgard Rosenzweig

      b. George Krauthamer

      c. Edith Lichtenstein 

D. Focus on Similarities/Differences 

Select a child who was at the hostel.  Research his/her country including geography, language, foods, dress, school, and customs.  Imagine you were that child.  Write a letter, create a vignette, draw a mural, etc. describing the similarities/differences in appearance, diet, clothing, language, customs, celebrations, and values. 

E. Using Puppets

Create a drama using puppets that would simulate immigrants leaving their homes, traveling to America, arriving at the hostel, adjusting to life on a farm, and going to the local school. Write a script, build a set, create your puppet characters, and perform for an audience.

F. Venn Diagram

On a large sheet of butcher paper create a Venn diagram with two large intersecting circles titled “Home” and “Hostel.” In one large circle, list unique factors of everyday life in America.  In the other circle, list unique factors of hostel life.  In the intersection, list similarities between home and hostel.  Compare and contrast similarities and differences. 

G. Role Play

Role play or create a mural of a typical day at the hostel, based on quotations, reflections, literature, and other primary and secondary sources.  Consider such factors as communal living, chores, schedules, classes, free time, pets, meals, meeting, etc.


designed by Jane Bryant, instructor in the Iowa City School District