Hamburger, Ralph Collection of the Berlin Fellowship, 1950-1994 | David Allan Hubbard Library Archives
The collection documents the roots, beginnings, forty year life of the relationship between Southern California Presbyterians and Protestant-Evangelical congregations in Berlin and East Germany during the post-war years and especially the years of the cold war. What began as a youth work-camp program at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, called “World Deputation,” a vision on the part of young people at that church to reach out to war devastated areas of the world and help, grew out also into lasting relationships between church communities in East and West, linking arms across the iron curtain, the Berlin Fellowship. The collection includes two binders compiled by Ralph Hamburger documenting the history of the Hollywood Presbyterian Church Deputation teams and the Berlin Fellowship; Walter James' book Tumbling Walls, the story of the Fellowship’s impact on Christians behind the iron curtain, in both English and German; documents, correspondence, minutes of meetings, evaluations, testimonies and team reports covering the period 1950 through 1996; and the correspondence of Ralph Hamburger, the college student whose experience, insight and commitment were so influential to the birth of the Deputation teams and the Berlin Fellowship. It also includes his testimony, “Eternally Grateful,” the chronicle of his early life in the Netherlands, where he participated in the underground during WWII, his years in California at Hollywood Presbyterian Church where he was a prime mover in the development of the teams and the Berlin Fellowship, and his years of service in Eastern Europe under the auspices of World Vision. Of special note is his correspondence, as secretary of the Deputation program, with J.B. Phillips who offered the early teams talks on Europe and New Testament interpretation during their stopovers in England en route to the continental work camps. The correspondence reveals a growing personal friendship between Hamburger and Phillips.