Book Review - Shanghai Remembered - Bert Faulbaum (ed.) (2005)
|Shanghai Remembered - 2005|
by Bert Falbaum (ed)
Shanghai Remembered: Stories of Jews who escaped to Shanghai from Nazi Europe. Bert Falbaum (ed.). Momentum Books. 2005.
I came across this book while researching the stories of the German Jews who got caught up in Niska and Ziebell's passport business.
The book is composed of chapters written by individuals whose families escaped Nazi Europe to Shanghai, one of the only "open" places in the world for desperate Jews. About 20,000 Jews survived the war in Shanghai, although conditions were often quite horrific, particularly after the Japanese entered the war and sequestered all of the European Jewish refugees in the Hongkew Ghetto.
One of the chapters is written by the daughter of Martin Goldstein, the man who acted as a connector between Niska and Ziebell.
The stories are all fascinating, tragic and hopeful. When so many Jews stayed behind in Germany and Austria, reluctant to travel to the notorious Paris of the Orient, a brave few took their lives in their hands and left Europe with very little in the way of material wealth. They would, however, come out of the war with their lives, and many emigrated to the United States.
Several of the stories relate how the Jews had attempted to secure visas to other places, like Bolivia or Chile, sometimes purchasing documents - all of which proved to be false and/or worthless. While the stories don't have a specific reference to Ziebell or Niska, one can easily see that many individuals preyed on desperate Jews.
The many stories, all with their own tones and voices, present a patchwork quilt of life in Germany and Austria before focusing on a rather desperate life in Shanghai. I rather liked this approach of many voices, rather than a single narrative.
I had never heard of Jews escaping Nazi Europe to Shanghai, so this book certainly broadened my horizons. When so many countries reduced immigration quotas and turned away shiploads of Jewish refugees, this story is one of hope.
4.5 out of 5 - interesting and very readable.