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Boy Scout ribbons in yellow, green, and red worn by a Jewish refugee in Shanghai

Object | Accession Number: 2007.205.12

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    Boy Scout ribbons in yellow, green, and red worn by a Jewish refugee in Shanghai

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    Brief Narrative
    Boy Scout ribbons worn by Ludwig Salzer when he was in the 13th (United) Boy Scouts Rover troop in Shanghai, China, during World War II. Ludwig was a Jewish refugee from Vienna, Austria. In 1938, after Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, anti-Jewish laws were enacted to persecute Jews. Ludwig's father, Hugo, was arrested during the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom and sent to Dachau concentration camp. He was released in 1939 and he and his wife, Theresa, decided to send 18 year old Ludwig to Shanghai. His 13 year old sister, Ilse, was placed on a kindertransport to England. They were not able to get visas to leave themselves and in 1941 were deported to the Opole ghetto in Poland where they died that same year.
    use:  1940-1945
    emigration:  1939 February
    use: Hongkou Qu (Shanghai, China)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Suzan Pressler
    Subject: Les Salter
    Ludwig Salzer (later Les Salter, 1920-2004) was born on December 31, 1920, in Vienna, Austria, to Hugo (1884-1941) and Theresa Senf (1900-1941). Hugo and Theresa married in March 1920. Hugo worked as a mechanic and owned his own business. His parents, Alexander (b. 1852 in Győr?, Hungary) and Berta Singer (born in Ostrau, Moravia, present day Ostrava, Czech Republic) married and settled in Vienna in 1878, and owned a transportation company that specialized in moving furniture and musical instruments. Hugo was the second oldest of eight sons, and served with the Austrian Army during World War I. Hugo and Theresa also had a daughter, Ilse, who was born on August 3, 1926.

    After Kristallnacht in November 1938, Ludiwig’s father was arrested and sent to Dachau concentration camp. After his return, his business was taken away from him because he was Jewish. The only work he was able to get was temporary street repair work.

    As the living conditions for Jews became increasingly dangerous, Ludwig’s parents unsuccessfully sought visas to leave Austria. Since Shanghai, China, was an open port with no visa required, they decided to send Ludwig with a group of Jewish refugees. He sailed on the SS Conte Rosso, traveling from Trieste, Italy, on February 8, 1939, to Venice, and then onto Bombay, India, as passenger number 254. They would manage to get Ilse onto a Kindertransport to England. She lived in Brighton, then in London, with the Woolf family.

    Ludwig lived in a refugee camp set up in the Hongkew ghetto by wealthier Jews already living in Shanghai. He was crowded into a single room with eighteen other men, and conditions were poor. His years in Shanghai were enriched by his participation in the 13th Boy Scout Troop. Organized by Fred Mittler, its members were nearly all Austrian and German Jewish refugees. Although there were many restrictions placed on refugee life by the Japanese authorities, the scouts were able to use campsites, lease garden areas, and go on occasional outings and boat rides. He was a member from 1941-October 1945, rising from Rover to Old Scout.

    His parents were deported from Vienna to the Opole ghetto in Poland in February 15, 1941. His paternal grandmother was considered too old to deport to Poland and it is believed she perished in a concentration camp. Theresa worked briefly as a housekeeper for their landlord but Hugo could not find a job and they depended on goods sent by relatives still living in Vienna. Ludwig sent his parents tea which they sold to buy basic supplies. Ludwig and his parents were able to write to each other. The letters from Poland would go first to his paternal uncle, Richard, in Vienna, who would then mail them to China. In the summer of 1941, Ludwig received a Red Cross message from his mother telling him that his father had died from typhus. He learned that his mother died a few months later. His paternal grandfather had died in Vienna, age 87, on October 20, 1939. Four of his paternal uncles, Carl, Fritz, Richard, and Rudolf, and his maternal uncle, Sigmund Senf, perished during the Holocaust.

    Following the end of the war in 1945, Ludwig remained in Shanghai. It was very difficult for the refugees to emigrate, as most countries had restrictive immigration policies. His sister, Ilse, remained in England where, in 1946, she married Mr. Cranmer in Brighton. In 1949, Ludwig changed his name to Les Salter. His fellow scout and troop leader, Eric Bergtraun, provided him with an affidavit that helped him get an immigration visa for the United States. He left aboard the Oceania in September 1952 for Australia, and later arrived in the US in 1953. He married Mazy and worked as a machinist in the Easy Bay Union Local 1304, of the United Steelworkers of America, in Emeryville, California. Les passed away, age 84, on January 31st, 2004, in California.

    Physical Details

    Decorative Arts
    Object Type
    Ribbons (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Three ribbons with unfinished ends: 1 red, 1 green, and 1 gold joined together at the center by a silver colored metal safety pin.
    overall: Height: 9.620 inches (24.435 cm) | Width: 1.120 inches (2.845 cm)
    overall : ribbon, metal

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The Boy Scout ribbons were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by Suzan Pressler, the daughter of Les Salter, on behalf of his Estate.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:11:30
    This page:

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