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Survivor Stories

Joseph W.

Joseph W. was born in Austria and recalls the changes he experienced after his country was annexed by Germany in March 1938. His family left for Shanghai, where they, like many others, initially found aid from local Jewish committees to secure housing. After the war, he spent some time in South America before immigrating to the United States.

He describes his experiences in Shanghai in great detail.

Excerpt from Video Testimony

Joseph describes his new home in Shanghai. Charitable committees in Shanghai made living spaces available to the new immigrants.

Video Transcript

I knew a little bit of Chinese. He asked me where I was going, were we were going, and I didn’t understand him. I remember him [saying], “You stay here?” at the harbor, so somehow, somebody came to help us who put us on the back of trucks, open trucks, and they took us to a home, a heim, you know, a heim, the home, there were various homes, which happened to be a school building [on] Kinsha Road. It was a good building, a brick building. Not all were so fortunate, especially the youngsters. But for the first fourteen months, they put us in the schoolroom, my parents in one, my sister in another, and me with about fifty bachelors and other guys, away, so for the first fourteen months, this is how we lived. A double bed, an upper metal bed. I was in the upper, and an older guy was below me. And on this space, the half the space, between him, belonged to me. So that’s all that I had for fourteen months to my name, that little space. Q: So this was a Jewish committee that met you at the boat, and that was sponsoring the soup kitchen. Yeah, the money came from the United States until the war started, and I am forever grateful, but also from the Shanghai prominent Jews, the Sassoons, the Hardoons, the Kadoories, you may have heard. These are Iraqi Jews, by way of India or Iran, and they established themselves in Shanghai and became prominent and very philanthropic, and there was a school, Kadoorie school, [named] after Sir Horace Kadoorie. And they are the ones that helped us. Also the Russian Jews, and then, as I said, the American Jews sent money.