Oral History Interview with Edith West

Edith West, née Quasnik, was born August 13, 1927 in Vienna, Austria. She left Austria for Shanghai with her mother in September, 1940 and describes their three week journey via Berlin, Moscow, Siberia and Manchuria. Her father had preceded them in 1939, after his release from Dachau. All their possessions were stolen enroute and they arrived in Hongkew penniless. Her father sold cigarettes, charcoal and vegetables from their small garden, but they depended on the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for their daily meals. She describes the rampant illness, filth, lack of medication and frequent air raids. Her mother died of dysentery in 1941. She also mentions Mr. Ghoya and that he maltreated her father one day when he was out getting a doctor for Edith.

Edith recalls learning secretarial skills in a Kadoorie school and socializing with other refugees in a Zionist group. She worked in a hospital admission office outside the ghetto, where patients injured by bombs in air raids were treated. Without shelter, people dug shallow pits for protection and sought refuge in a jail.
When the war ended, she worked for the American Army and Navy as a teletype operator. In 1949, she travelled for nine weeks by ship to Israel with her father and stepmother. Lack of employment prompted her father’s return to Vienna and she followed in 1950. When they received visas under the Austrian quota, they emigrated to the United States in 1951. Most of their relatives perished in Europe.

Date: 10/19/1991
Interviewer: Marian Salkin
Interviewee: Edith West
Language: English
Permalink: https://hoha.digitalcollections.gratzcollege.edu/item/oral-history-interview-with-edith-west/
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