An Uncommon Journey : From Vienna to Shanghai to America - A Brother and Sister's Escape from the Nazis

An Uncommon Journey : From Vienna to Shanghai to America - A Brother and Sister's Escape from the Nazis


A memoir by a brother and sister in which they recount how their Jewish family fled Nazi Austria in 1939, joining other Jewish refugees in Shanghai, China, before escaping to the United States.

On a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, Deborah Strobin and her brother Ilie Wacs came face to face with their painful past as refugees in Shanghai's Jewish ghetto. There, hanging on the Museum's wall, they were shocked to discover photos of Deborah as a five-year-old posing for Japanese war propaganda.
During a brief period, 1938-1945, China was a haven to 18,000 Jewish refugees primarily from Nazi Germany and Nazi Austria.
While the rest of the civilized world deplored the persecution of the Jews, it kept its doors locked.
Shanghai was the only place on earth that accepted Jewish refugees without any restrictions. All that was needed was passage on a ship to China.
Shanghai, incredibly, was then occupied by the Japanese. Despite hardships and deprivations they imposed both on the Chinese and the Jews who fled Nazi persecution, they did not accede to the German demands to "solve the Jewish problem." Indeed, they were the only transplanted Jewish community to survive intact.
Unraveling a family's 12-year odyssey across continents and the chaos of war is the subject of a unique memoir by a sister and brother ten years apart entitled An Uncommon Journey--From Vienna to Shanghai to America A Brother and Sister Escape to Freedom During World War II . The book is written by Deborah Strobin, a San Francisco philanthropist and her older and only sibling, Ilie Wacs, a celebrated New York clothing designer and artist.
In the years since Deborah and Ilie discovered her image in the half-century-old photographs in the Holocaust Museum, the two have uncovered their memories in An Uncommon Journey--recollections of pre-war Vienna, how they lived, how they escaped to Italy and then how they boarded a ship with thousands of others bound for an unknown destination: China. The book pieces together their memories of living in the Shanghai ghetto, a story many WW II observers know little about.
Written from two perspectives, Ilie's story is that of a teenage boy, eager for adventure, ready to explore new worlds, conflicted between a sense of responsibility to his family and a determination to follow his own dreams. Deborah's story is one of a young girl raised by a beauty queen mother and independent-minded father whose determination to keep her innocent and protected collided every day with the harsh realities of being a poor Jewish refugee in the Shanghai ghetto.

Book details

  • Hardcover
  • 226 pages
  • English
  • 1569804524
  • 9781569804520

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