Pratt Library to Host "Quiet Helpers":

Quaker Relief Efforts in Post-War Germany To Be Showcased

by Michael Goren

For three decades during the last century, Quakers (as members of the Society of Friends are called) served as "quiet helpers" in Germany. They fed more than a million children daily during the 1920s, when the German population was on the verge of starvation, suffering from the effects of isolation and punishing WWI economic reparations. Then they aided Jews and other persecuted people during the Holocaust. And, following World War II, they implemented broad-scale rebuilding and reconciliation programs.

"Quiet Helpers," a commemorative exhibit organized by the German Historical Museum in Berlin, outlines the evolution of the Quaker movement during these periods, as seen through German eyes. The exhibit will open in Baltimore at the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Thursday, April 11 and will remain on display through Friday, May 17.

From period photos and news articles, to documents from Gestapo files, ration tickets from the Quakerspeisung (child feeding program), and a copy of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Quakers in 1947, "Quiet Helpers" puts a human face on both the aid work and the people involved—the helpers and the helped. Included in the exhibit is a 30-minute documentary film, "Love Amid the Ruins," narrated by NPR host Scott Simon, himself a Quaker.

Originally opened in Berlin in 1996, the exhibit has traveled to 21 German cities under the patronage of then-president of Germany Roman Herzog, and is now on tour in the U.S., with the support of the German government, the Robert Bosch Foundation and the American Friends Service Committee. Other US cities that have already hosted the exhibit include Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Pasadena, CA.

Hours of the Enoch Pratt Central Library, at 400 Cathedral St., are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m.8 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.5:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.5 p.m. and Sunday (Sept.-May), 1 p.m.5 p.m. Call 396-5430 for information.

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This story was published on March 2, 2002.