Eva Gottheiner

Eva describes the living conditions in Shanghai.

We were housed in a segregated district that was then called Hongkew. The devastation that existed when we arrived in Shanghai in that area was still pretty evident. They’d had a civil war there, and I guess the Japanese came in, or whoever it was, to destroy whatever there was. For instance, in the beginning, when we had to take a bus to go looking for a job or wherever we had to go, some areas you had to use a handkerchief to put over your nose, because the dead had not been taken out of the rubble. So we lived in a very torn-up area to start out with, but eventually it was built up. You know, we ended up to be twenty-some thousand Jews in this area. So, it was built up, and we existed. We didn’t live, but we existed. Well, we lived, too. I mean, you make the best of what you have, obviously. But it was a tremendous culture shock. If you can visualize living without, as it was called there, a “WC,” which is the bathroom facilities. We didn’t even have hot water. We had a room that had a faucet with cold water, and that’s all we had. No hot water. You had to go out and buy hot water.

So it was a very difficult adjustment, obviously, for all of us Europeans, you know. Most of us came from a decent middle class background, or even if not, those that didn’t come from a very well-to-do middle class, they still had toilet facilities in Germany, and cleanliness and all that. Not as much sickness as we had in China.


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