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Oral history interview with Willie Nowak

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

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.

Interviewee
Willie Nowak
Date
1983 May 09  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
2 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, acquired from the Gratz College Hebrew Education Society
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Record last modified: 2018-02-12 09:41:07
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508665