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Oral history interview with Walter Schnell

Oral History | Accession Number: 1989.A.0323 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0206

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Walter Schnell, born on April 16, 1904 in Strehlen, Germany (Strzelin, Poland), describes his family and childhood; going to study crystal and porcelain in Berlin, Germany in the early 1920s; having to sell his family’s porcelain and glass business in 1937 because anti-Jewish business laws were becoming too strict; moving to Wrocław after the business sold with his sister and parents; working for a family friend in a wholesale business in Wrocław; his arrest during Kristallnacht and being sent by train through Weimar and on to Buchenwald; being forced to watch the hangings of those prisoners who had escaped from the camp and been caught; being called into the camp’s main office on the second day of Hanukkah and told that his parents had booked him a passage for Panama; finally securing a passage on a ship from Wrocław to Genoa, Italy after jumping through much red tape with Gestapo officials in Wrocław; staying in Genoa for a short time until he traveled on a boat to Shanghai because he did not need official papers to get in; settling in Hongkou, the Jewish suburb of Shanghai; Allied planes accidentally bombing the Jewish quarter of Shanghai; the creation of a Jewish community with its own traditions in Shanghai, including establishing nine hundred yeshivas, keeping kosher, and maintaining a synagogue; discovering that his mother and two cousins had made it to New York; and joining his family in New York after the war.

Interviewee
Mr. Walter Schnell
Interviewer
Linda G. Kuzmack
Date
1989 June 28  (interview)
Language
English
Genre/Form
Oral histories.
Extent
2 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection