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Oral history interview with Eva Rogazinsky Sommer

Oral History | Accession Number: 2013.294.69 | RG Number: RG-50.693.0069

Eva Rogazinsky Sommer, born in Magdeburg, Germany (Saxony) on January 23, 1928, describes being an only child; her family living in a three story building on a main street; attending a public school near her home until she turned 10 years old; after Kristallnacht being expelled from school at age of 11 because she was Jewish; her father being sent to Buchenwald; antisemitism; being the only Jewish student in her class; the burning of the synagogue during Kristallnacht; her grandfather’s men’s underwear factory; the fate of her extended family; her mother purchasing tickets to Shanghai, China; her father being released from Buchenwald after a few weeks; her father’s service during WWI; arriving in Shanghai; encountering the exiled Russian Jews who had fled Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution; the vestments of the refugees; receiving help from the Russian Jews; the camps built for refugees; the conditions, including the food and bathroom facilities; not being able to afford school; Sir Horace Kadoorie setting up a school for refugee children; attending his school for two and a half years; having to work to bring in money; her father working odd jobs and her mother cleaning homes; working when she was 15 years old at a Chinese office that had a Jewish partner from Wroclaw, Poland; learning Chinese; learning English in the Kadoorie School; losing her job after the Japanese closed every business where people of English citizenship worked; buying a used book and teaching herself shorthand; ghettoization; the difficulty of getting permits to exist the ghetto; the lack of food; how the youth interacted among themselves but the adults were very isolated; her neighbors from India and Lahore, Pakistan and taking care of their children; the American Army arriving from Burma and working for them as an interpreter; the good-natured antics of American Marines; assisting in the war crime trials after the war by taking shorthand notes; working in a steamship company; leaving Shanghai and going to San Francisco, CA for two months; her family getting a parcel of land in Chile; experiencing an earthquake; arriving in Chile in 1947; working as a secretary then becoming in charge of exportation; taking an apartment independently; trying to integrate with other Jewish refugees but being viewed as suspect because she had been in Shanghai; her experience with the Zionist movement; meeting her Italian husband and marrying in 1955; working as a tri-lingual secretary in the UN until her marriage; her two children; and her message to never lose hope and work hard.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Sommer, Eva
Alster, Zelma
interview:  2011 April 15
1 digital file : MOV.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Fundación Memoria Viva
Record last modified: 2022-06-16 10:13:24
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