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Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror Paperback – January 24, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (January 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252075269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252075261
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #965,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“The book’s riveting centerpiece combines military history and personal horror to describe the Battle of Manila. . . . Burned out of their homes, Jews roam the streets with other civilians, seeking safe havens, crouching to dodge bullets, hiding in holes dug in the ground covered with corrugated roofing. . . . Escape to Manila . . . enables readers to know and feel the fires.”--Hadassah Magazine

"Ephraim has constructed a fascinating narrative from a rich mix of archival research, oral history, and autobiographical memoir. He offers us a stirring portrait of a community of resourceful, resilient, courageous, and compassionate individuals."--Michael Shapiro, director, Program in Jewish Culture and Society, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"The vignettes and first person histories make for very interesting reading."--Jewish Book World

Book Description

With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s more than a thousand European Jews sought refuge in the Philippines, joining the small Jewish population of Manila. When the Japanese invaded the islands in 1941, the peaceful existence of the barely settled Jews filled with the kinds of uncertainties and oppression they thought they had left behind. Escape to Manila gathers the testimonies of thirty-six refugees, who describe the difficult journey to Manila, the lives they built there, and the events surrounding the Japanese invasion. Combining these accounts with historical and archival records, Manila newspapers, and U.S. government documents, Frank Ephraim constructs a detailed account of this little-known chapter of world history.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on September 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book Mr. Frank Ephraim not only tells us about the history of "Manilaners", Jews who fled Europe and headed to the Philippines, but also tells us about the Jewish community already there. His book is detailed, with both the facts of history AND the emotions and actions of the people themselves. We never feel that the Jews, Filipinos, Americans and Japanese are faceless puppets.
He starts off giving us a very complete history of the Philippines, then focusing on Europe and the problems that Jews had living under the growing power of the Third Reich. Soon we are following the resourceful refugees to Manila. We watch them start a new life, with the help of those around them, showing us the support and empathy that the Jews and Filipinos had for the newcomers.
Then the Japanese invaded and he shows us how everyone came even closer together, doing everything to live a normal life. We learn about daily life, the struggle for food and trying to understand how to deal with the Japanese while they also deal with the big long term problems, like trying to find schools for their children and continuing their form of worship under the paranoid eyes of the Japanese.
Of course, the book ends with the American invasion, the bloody fight for Manila and the aftermath. The author does nothing to hide the tragic results of the battle or the fact that even when peace came the Jews still had problems just making ends meet.
This is a book for anybody into Asian history, Jewish history, the history of the Philippines, World War Two and Japanese history. A must for any history library, really, touching on many subjects.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Hansen on May 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been collecting books of this genre - Manila during the Japanese occupation and subsequent liberation for a number of years and was pleased to add this to my collection. My mother's family was in Manila and like the author they suffered and struggled. To the reviewer who noted that he doesn't care since he doesn't know the people, I say "so what" -- I don't give his review any credibility. One does not read books of this genre and expect to know the people involved. However, as one reviewer has already pointed out, the author made the egregious error of referring to the "Jesuits" at DeLaSalle. My grandfather was president of the DeLaSalle Alumni Association in 1944-45, all of my Uncles attended DeLaSalle and were the author's classmates. To link Jesuits to De La Salle totally negates the credibility of the book in it's entirety to any De La Salle or Ateneo (the Jesuit School)alumni. I am giving it three stars because of the subject but this book should have been edited for accuracy before publication.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rooney on May 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Escape To Manila" by Frank Ephraim. Subtitled "From Nazi Tyranny To Japanese Terror". University of Illinois Press, 2003.

This is a collection of intriguing stories, documenting the escape of many different Jewish people, families and individuals, from the impending Holocaust in Nazi dominated Europe. One of the escapees is the author, Frank Ephraim, who has done a great deal of research on how and when the individual escapees reached Manila, The Philippines, and their fate when the Japanese were forced out.

Each of the intriguing stories has its own chronology: some Jews escaped in the early 1930s, when the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws painted a dark picture of their future, while others did not leave until the September 1st 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland. These necessarily different chronologies can be confusing as you read this interesting book. Further, the author insists giving the date of the Pearl Harbor attack as December 8th, I.e. Manila time, as the Philippines are on the other side of the International Dateline. Of particular interest to me was the story of the young man who flew from Europe to the ends of Asia (Shanghai) in a German JU52. He was the only passenger. That kind of trip was rare enough at that time, but for a Jew who was escaping it was audacious. Further, the author completes the story, through enough research, to track down what happened to that aircraft after Pearl Harbor.

The author's research has some flaws, however. On page 73 he mentions the Catholic De La Salle College", which he attended on Taft Avenue in Manila. He states that the College was staffed by "... Jesuit brothers". This is in error.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles A. Krohn on February 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I found this book quite by accident in the library of the Army & Navy Club in Washington, DC, little suspecting it contained interesting details of the Netzorg family in the Phillipines prior to WWII. My grandmother's maiden name was Netzorg, and the family settled in Carson City, MI. My father was quite proud of his Netzorg antecedents, and this book helps me understand now what I couldn't appreciate 50 years ago. Family history notwithstanding, Mr. Ephraim uncovers fascinating details how Jews fleeing Germany found sanctuary in a most unlikely place. He records the generosity of the Philippine people, a spirit that wasn't widely shared in the world at that time. It truly deserves recognition then as the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
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