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Oral history interview with Willie Nowak

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1997.A.0441.45 | RG Number: RG-50.462.0045

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    Oral history interview with Willie Nowak


    Interview Summary
    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.
    Willie Nowak
    interview:  1983 May 09
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive

    Physical Details

    2 sound cassettes (60 min.).

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Nowak, Willie.

    Administrative Notes

    The Gratz College Holocaust Oral History Archive conducted the interview with Willie Nowak in Philadelphia, Pa., on May 9, 1983. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received the tapes of the interview from Gratz College on September 22, 1998.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:36:10
    This page:

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