Shanghai Escape (Holocaust Remembrance Series)
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Shanghai, China, seems an unlikely destination for Jewish refugees trying to escape the cruel anti-Semitic laws of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party before the Second World War. But while most countries were unwilling to give refuge to Jews, China was one place that did. More than twenty thousand European Jews found refuge in Shanghai between 1937 and 1939.
Lily Toufar and her family arrive in Shanghai in 1938, having fled from Vienna on the eve of Kristallnacht. Shanghai is a strange place for this bright young girl. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and under pressure from Hitler, the Japanese government in Shanghai has ordered Jewish refugees to move into a ghetto in an area of Shanghai called Hongkew. There is little food to eat and poor sanitation, and disease is rampant. For Lily, life becomes grueling after her family is forced into the ghetto. Lily endures the difficult conditions, always hopeful for an end to the war and a return to normal life.
them to open their packages. She longed to help. She wanted to cry out to the soldiers and say, “Stop hurting those people. They aren’t doing anything to you!” And yet she knew that there was nothing she could do, just as the Chinese citizens had no choice but to submit to these inspections. “It seems so much worse for everyone than it was before Pearl Harbor,” Lily said to Susie one day after witnessing a soldier grab a bicycle from a young Chinese girl. The girl stood sobbing in the middle of
Oh no, Lily thought, suddenly realizing that her plan might not have been the smartest. But it was too late to stop. Just as she was pouring the last drops onto her scalp, she heard the apartment door open and Oma step inside. “Was haben Sie gemacht? What have you done?” Oma cried as soon as she saw the mess on Lily’s head and on the balcony floor. Oma had been furious, chasing Lily around the apartment, her hand high in the air, ready to swat her grandchild if she caught her. Lily dodged this
father. Within seconds, Pop and Mrs. Goldstein had their heads together talking about the fabrics Pop had brought. Lily looked around. Several sewing machines, just like Mom’s, were lined up against the back wall. The machines hummed in unison as Chinese women, busy at work, fashioned trousers and skirts from pieces of material that they had pinned together. A couple of women glanced up at Lily, their faces expressionless, and then quickly returned to their work. There were no windows inside
adjusted to the announcement that her family would be moving to Hongkew when, a few weeks later, Willi burst into their apartment early in the morning. With hardly so much as a nod to Lily, he began pacing the small room. “The Nazis have arrived. There was a parade yesterday on the Bund. Dozens, maybe hundreds of soldiers marched down the street – like they owned it! Swinging their rifles, stomping their boots on the ground, showing off their uniforms!” Willi was talking so fast that Lily had
Japanese police were real. Their imprisonment was real! Later that evening, Lily stared out the window at the road below her apartment. There was a funeral procession passing by. Men and women were dressed in white, as was the Chinese custom whenever there was a funeral. They carried pictures of the person who had died. Several men held small stringed instruments that they strummed to accompany the women who cried out with long, loud wails. Lily wondered if they were crying for the little girl