Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eric Rosenow - August 5, 1982

Conditions in the Ghetto

Hm. Okay that's good uh, I didn't get enough of a feel like for a, a daily routine while you were living in the ghetto. If you could just even briefly tell me what a typical day was like for you or for friends of yours?

People for friends, they, they worked. They--some of them were, were in, in uh, we had shops there, we had grocery stores, we had uh, bars there, where the Japanese people even came in as guests and we had music in, in the ghetto, there were theater in the ghetto, there were movie houses in the ghetto, there were dancing in the ghetto. Uh, I must say we were lucky that we could escape to Shanghai. This uh, saved all--Shanghai actually saved about 15 or 18,000 people, their lives. Five thousand people uh, as I mentioned before died of climate and starvation, but the rest uh, could survive. Take for instance me. I had a good profession. I always worked, when other people didn't have a meal, I had 3 meals a day because when guests came in to bars and restaurants, they invited the employees to eat with them, to drink with them.


Yes uh, many times I took food home because I had 2 brothers and my parents. Of course, in the daytime, we had uh, a kitchen what was cooking for the, for the underprivileged people. They couldn't, they couldn't uh, support themselves and they had uh, had to stay in line and get their food.

Who set that up?

I guess, I guess this was set up by the Joint contribution in connection with the Red Cross, I believe. It came from, from uh, private donation more or less it came from private donation during the war. We had uh, pretty well, pretty well--the Jewish people in Shanghai, they made a good living.

The ones that were already there?

Right, right.

Were they, were they also forced to move into the ghetto?

Well you had uh, Jewish people with British passports, with Russian p...passports. You had American people there too, American Jews.

Living there?

Living there and I don't believe that they could get those people into the ghetto--that the Japanese people couldn't get these people into the ghetto. So uh, there still was an international settlement in Shanghai what was not occupied by the Japanese people, even during the war. You see, this section where we lived was completely bombed out by the Japanese people. It used to belong to Sh...China. Uh, [pause] the war was on from--since nineteen hundred--from--the war started between China and Japan nineteen hundred thirty-six and that section where we lived was completely bombed out to the ground and the Japanese people let us come in. Why they let us come in? Build it up. There was no electricity, there was nothing and the 20,000 Jewish people built up this little community.

Wow, that's a very different picture than, than what I had...

You see the Chinese people actually didn't let us in. Did I mention it before?


Yeah, the Chinese people didn't let us in; the Japanese people let us in.

So there was a vast difference in attitude then I would imagine that the Chinese had towards you versus the Japanese.

Yes uh, the Chinese people uh, uh, when I left Germany, I think I mentioned it before, he asked me for 5,000 dollar gold--American dollars--to come to Shanghai. But that time, I didn't know how one dollar looked. I didn't know how one American dollar looks so uh, the Chinese kinds of way I went in Berlin--I think I mentioned it in, in our first interview--he said, "Well--" I asked him uh, "Why don't you give me a passport to go leave here to, to Shanghai?" He said, "What do you mean passport? We don't give any passports to come to, to Shanghai." I said "But what about the, the people who are there already?" "We put them all in concentration camps when we get back Shanghai from the Japanese people."

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