- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: University of Illinois Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (April 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0252024532
- ISBN-13: 978-0252024535
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,639,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Strange Haven: A JEWISH CHILDHOOD IN WARTIME SHANGHAI Hardcover – April 1, 1999
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The history in this memoir is astonishing. Driven from Germany by the Nazis, Tobias was six years old in 1938 when he and his family found refuge with 17,000 other European Jews in a part of Shanghai under Japanese occupation. His quiet personal recollection describes how they got there and what their daily life was like during the next nine years, until at the age of 15, he left for the U.S. Most bizarre is the account of being a religious yeshiva seminary student, no different from if he were living in a Polish shtetl. Without being cute, Tobias (now an eminent professor of educational pyschology) stays true to the refugee child's experience. The Chinese are just background color--ill-treated by the Japanese but in a world apart. There are no heroics. What's important is Tobias' bar mitzvah. Daily prayers and rituals and scholarly discussion order his life--until the news of the Holocaust reaches Shanghai, and he has a crisis of faith. An affecting memoir of rescue and survival. Hazel Rochman
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There are many surprises for anyone who doesn't know the details of Hitler's Germany. Prior to 1940, Jews sent to concentration camps were released if they could prove that they would leave Germany. Jews did not need passports or visas to enter Japanese controlled China. The Japanese respected Jewish history and had difficulty accepting the Nazi propaganda. Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul-general in Kovno, Lithuania, who made possible the escape of many Polish Jews to Shanghai, returned to Japan to live the post war years in dishonor for defying orders.
At its core this well written book describes the coming of maturity of a sensitive Jewish boy and his unique education in Jewish schools and the Mirer Yeshiva in Shanghai. Tobias avoids cliché and appears to deliver an accurate description of a unique personal story of World War II and its aftermath.