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Former Jewish refugee donates 8000 books to Shanghai
By:Zheng Qian  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2020-09-04 17:36

A batch of 8000 books, donated by a former Jewish refugee in Shanghai during World War II, has arrived in the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, the only museum in China that pays homage to the living nightmare the Jews were put through as well as highlights the role Shanghai played in offering Jews some kind of sanctuary.

(Jewish themed books collected by Kurt)

Kurt Wick, an 82-year-old man, collected almost 10,000 books themed on Jewish history, culture and politics since he moved from Shanghai to London with his family members after WWII. When he visited the museum in 2019 and learned from the museum director Chen Jian that a library was to be built, he promised to donate these books.

(Kurt and his books)

Kurt’s story with Shanghai began when he was one and a half years old. In 1939, he reached Shanghai together with his older brother and parents to escape the Nazi persecution. They made a living in the city by opening a store producing handbags on Dongdaming Road with a sewing machine they had brought along.

(Kurt and his parents and brother in Shanghai in April of 1947)

Last year Kurt and his wife, daughter and son-in-law especially came to Shanghai during their Asia visit. Kurt was extremely excited to see his family members’ names on a survivor name list wall in the museum.

(Kurt finds his name on the wall)

Accompanied by Yang Meng, a volunteer from the museum, he went to see the original site of his primary school and childhood home. The landscape was reminiscent of his poor but happy childhood. Kurt remembered clearly the position of his house and even the interior decor. He told the volunteer that he still keeps a bamboo stick that was used as money to buy hot water at that time.

(The bamboo stick Kurt keeps)

To get more information from Kurt about Shanghai’s rescue of desperate Jews, Chen Jian, invited the Kurt and his family members to have lunch. Kurt was quite moved by Chen’s sincerity and thus made his decision to donate all his Jewish books as a return for Shanghai’s kindness.

Due to the complex book-importing procedure and the coronavirus pandemic, the books were finally moved to the Bonded Warehouse in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone in April this year and transported to the museum in September.

When Kurt spoke on the telephone on the day the books entered the museum, he was quite moved,“It’s sad that my parents can’t see this. If they knew that I have given these books to Shanghai, they would be happy. Thank you, Shanghai. Thank you for saving us.”