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Survivor Stories

Eva G.

Eva G. was born in Breslau, Germany. She recalls the growing atmosphere of antisemitism that she noticed beginning in 1935, culminating in the events of Kristallnacht. Soon after that night, her family left for Shanghai aboard an Italian ship. She married her husband while living there, and they remained in China for ten years before leaving for the United States.

Excerpt from Video Testimony

Eva discusses the living conditions in Shanghai.

Video Transcript

We were housed in a segregated district that was then called Hongkew. The devastation that existed when we arrived in Shanghai in that area was still pretty evident. They’d had a civil war there, and I guess the Japanese came in, or whoever it was, to destroy whatever there was. For instance, in the beginning, when we had to take a bus to go looking for a job or wherever we had to go, some areas you had to use a handkerchief to put over your nose, because the dead had not been taken out of the rubble. So we lived in a very torn-up area to start out with, but eventually it was built up. You know, we ended up to be twenty-some thousand Jews in this area. So, it was built up, and we existed. We didn’t live, but we existed. Well, we lived, too. I mean, you make the best of what you have, obviously. But it was a tremendous culture shock. If you can visualize living without, as it was called there, a “WC,” which is the bathroom facilities. We didn’t even have hot water. We had a room that had a faucet with cold water, and that’s all we had. No hot water. You had to go out and buy hot water. So it was a very difficult adjustment, obviously, for all of us Europeans, you know. Most of us came from a decent middle class background, or even if not, those that didn’t come from a very well-to-do middle class, they still had toilet facilities in Germany, and cleanliness and all that. Not as much sickness as we had in China.