Oral History Interview with Willie Nowak

Willei Nowak, born August 1, 1908 in Berlin, Germany, describes his family of liberal, Austrian Jews; his father, who owned a tobacco factory in Berlin; graduating from a gymnasium in Berlin; selling pharmaceuticals in Brunn, Czechoslovakia (Brno, Czech Republic) from 1935 to 1937; returning to Berlin and finding he had lost his German citizenship; Kristallnacht in 1938 and witnessing the burning of the Fasanenstrasse Synagogue, where he had celebrated his bar mitzvah; immigrating to Shanghai, China in 1938 with his fiancée and the two children of his first marriage; the refugee camp in the Japanese district; the support from the Joint Distribution Committee and the Russian Jewish community for a hospital; the kosher soup kitchen and the services of a rabbi; working as a musician in bars and night clubs; being in charge of Jewish guards in the refugee camp; interactions between Chinese and Japanese individuals and himself; his wife, Elsa, working in an underwear factory owned by Austrian Jews who sold to Japanese buyers; and his family immigrating to the United States in January 1948 on a collective affidavit for Shanghai refugees.

Date: 05/09/1983
Interviewer: Josey G. Fisher
Interviewee: Willie Nowak
Language: English
Subject: Holocaust survivors.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Personal narratives.
Jewish refugees--China--Shanghai.
Jewish youth--Germany--Societies and clubs.
Jews, Austrian--Germany--Berlin.
Jews--Legal status, laws, etc.--Germany.
Kristallnacht, 1938.
Refugee camps--China--Shanghai.
Synagogues--Destruction and pillage.
World War, 1939-1945--Jews--China--Shanghai.
Men--Personal narratives.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Brno, Czechia
Shanghai, China
Permalink: https://hoha.digitalcollections.gratzcollege.edu/item/oral-history-interview-with-willie-nowak/