Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eric Rosenow - August 5, 1982

Shanghai Ghetto

You mentioned, just a while back, that you really didn't hear anything about was going on in the rest of the world during the time that you were in Shanghai.

In Shanghai, right.

You were completely cut off...

Yes, yes.

I, I really would like to hear more about your reactions to when you first started hearing what, what was happening to everybody else.

Well when we found out later, you know, we couldn't hear short wave, definitely not. Uh, when we found out uh, what happened we certainly don't want to go back to Germany. But during the war, you know, the time we spent in Shanghai, we always had the, the feeling, "Well Hilter will break his neck here pretty soon, how, how long can he be in power?" So uh, we thought to be in Shanghai was only temporary. We thought we would go back to Germany again where we lived, where we came--where we know our language. We never dreamed to come to America. Unfortunately, I was not a Zionist either, so I don't want to...

Why do you say unfortunately?

Well, today maybe uh, uh, the Jewish people are more Zionist oriented than ever before to, to immigrate to uh, to uh, to Israel. If I would be a Zionist that time, that time, I probably would go from Germany already to Palestine or even from, from Shanghai to make the decision to go with my family to, to Palestine. But I wasn't a Zionist, I know very little about it.

I noticed that when you first said that to me you used the word "unfortunately"...


...was there an attitude at that time towards...

Yeah, you had uh, a lot of Jewish people that time, they were real Zionist people. They were uh, for, for definitely to go to Palestine. But on the other hand, I know so many people that are big Zionist people, but when America open up, they were the first one who went to America.

Yeah. We're going to backtrack one more time. Tell me what you know about who organized the ghetto?

The Japanese people.

Tell me some more, what you know about how it happened?

Well, how'd it happen--you see the Japanese people didn't know any difference from Jews or non-Jews. The Japanese or the Chinese people called us foreigners, ??? and the American people, the Chinese people called ???. They didn't know, the Japanese people and the, the Chinese people, they didn't know any difference between the Jews ??? and ???. No, but the Nazi influence was--became so big in Shanghai, we had about 5,000 of Nazis in Shanghai, that they built, yes, that they built a ghetto. They put the Jewish people in the ghetto, where we before we could walk freely in the whole city around and could do our business--after our business. Now when the war was out, comes a very important point, we learned across the bridge in Shanghai, on the waterfront, they start building gas chambers for us so if the war would last another half year, the Japanese people would put us in gas chambers. They had no other choice.

What were your thoughts at that time when you realized that?

Well the war was out, we didn't know it before. You know uh, don't forget that we were completely uh, uh, isolated from the world. [speaking to wife] What, you want to say something?

Wife: No.

No, you can say something.

Wife: It's just that as far as the gas chambers...


Wife: ??? everything on it. And it started when the war started between Germany and Japan. Then they put us in the ghetto because we are Jews.

No not at the beginning, honey.

Wife: When the war started with America and uh, Japan.


Wife: ???

Yes, yes.

Wife: And they did everything the Germans told them to do.

Have you been interviewed? Has anyone contacted you to tell your story, as well?

Wife: It's the same thing.

No, it's never the same thing because you're two very different people with very different feelings, very different reactions to, to what happened. I would like, at some point--I would like permission to also talk with you and get a complete, a complete story from your, from your viewpoint. Would you be willing to do that for this project?

Wife: ???.

It's the Holocaust ??? Sharit Ha-Platah where they're building the uh, the memorial center and they probably uh, having uh, uh, uh, museum something like this. One room where they display uh, uh, some of the, uh...

[interruption in interview]

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