Holocaust refugees recall sheltering in Shanghai

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-01-22 10:45
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Ellen Chaim, who later changed her name to Ellen Kracko, was born in 1947 in Shanghai while her parents sought shelter in the city. She received this teddy bear during their journey from Shanghai to South Africa in 1949 when Kracko was just 2 years old. [Photo by MINLUZHANG/CHINA DAILY]

Jerry Lindenstraus is a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. People around him sometimes find it odd that the elderly Jewish man is able to speak a few Japanese words.

Whenever the topic arises, Lindenstraus tells them the story of how his family fled Germany and traveled to Shanghai in 1939 to escape the Holocaust.

After Japan fully occupied Shanghai, all schools in Shanghai were obligated to teach Japanese — the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association School where Lindenstraus was located was no exception.

In 1939, one month before the outbreak of World War II, the 10-year-old Lindenstraus arrived in Shanghai from Gumbinnen, a small town located in what was then East Prussia, Germany.

Stepping off the boat, the young boy was sweating profusely under the layers of his heavy German suits and shirts. Eighty-four years later, he still remembers Shanghai's brutally hot and humid summer.

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