Read Shanghai Diary by Ursula Bacon Online

shanghai-diary

By the late 1930s, Europe sat on the brink of a world war. As the holocaust approached, many Jewish families in Germany fled to one of the only open ports available to them: Shanghai. Once called "the armpit of the world," Shanghai ultimately served as the last resort for tens of thousands of Jews desperate to escape Hitler's "Final Solution." Against this backdrop, 11-yeaBy the late 1930s, Europe sat on the brink of a world war. As the holocaust approached, many Jewish families in Germany fled to one of the only open ports available to them: Shanghai. Once called "the armpit of the world," Shanghai ultimately served as the last resort for tens of thousands of Jews desperate to escape Hitler's "Final Solution." Against this backdrop, 11-year-old Ursula Bacon and her family made the difficult 8,000-mile voyage to Shanghai, with its promise of safety. But instead of a storybook China, they found overcrowded streets teeming with peddlers, beggars, opium dens, and prostitutes. Amid these abysmal conditions, Ursula learned of her own resourcefulness and found within herself the fierce determination to survive....

Title : Shanghai Diary
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781595820006
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Shanghai Diary Reviews

  • Chrissie
    2019-05-03 21:02

    ETA: I also highly recommend: The Distant Land of My FatherMy review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...This gives you another perspective of Shanghai during the war!Now that I have finished the book, I think I will give it 4 stars. You know me, I hand out those stars VERY stringently. Furthermore, I am swayed by my emotions - this book feels best as a book I "liked a lot", rather than being "amazing"! Let me explain. This book covers the 8 years and 3 months that the author spent as a child and young adult in Shanghai, from 1939 - 1947. She grew from a precocious 10 year old to become a fully adult 18 year-old. The book excellently covers her flight to Shanghai, life in Hongkew, life in the French Concession and finally the forced displacement back to Hongkew in 1943, now termed "the Designated Area". Shanghai was split into three districts, the International Settlement, the French Concession and Hongkew, under Japanese control following the Chino-Japanese Wars. Comparatively, life in the French Concession was a dream world to life as it had been on arrival and the ghetto like conditions of the "Designated Area". As the alliance between Germany and Japan grew stronger and when finally Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Allied businesses were closed. Americans, Englishmen, Dutch, French, Dutch, all enemies of the Japanese empire were rounded up and placed in prisoner camps. A month earlier the European Jews had been classified as "stateless citizens". They had become nonentities! Finally in May 1943 these stateless citizens were restricted to the "Designated Area". The book details the historical facts and how they played out in Shanghai and for her family. Details is the word I must emphasize. You learn about the sanitation, or lack there of. It was filthy beyond words. I will not quote parts on this subject. Just imagine and multiply your imagination by 100. Ughhhhh. This is done so you truly see it. Health care is deplorable, and of course makes life precarious. There is so much that is horrendous, but the strange thing is that it is NOT a depressing book. The deplorable conditions are vividly displayed before your eyes. What makes it not depressing is the spirit of the family. Sometimes this bothered me to the point that I felt maybe she was childishly ignorant. That is not the explanation. The explanation is that this family and their closest friends were always aware that their conditions were so very much better than those of the Europeans in the Japanese prisoner camps and the Jews who failed to leave Europe in time. And this family set high standards. "If you can't change it, don't complain." (page 204) or "If there is nothing better, then we have the best!" These attitudes infuse their way into every decision made by the family and their close friends. Ursula's father attracted friends like honey attracts flies. Good friends. Friends you could count on. Her father says: "The world is full of wonderful people, and I know them all." (page 194)Or from the mouth of one elderly European Jewess, stranded in Shanghai among the other thousands (BTW, there were 18000 in the "Designated Area"!:"Well, darling, Mrs. Goldberg will have to tell you again. Now listen and remember what I am telling you. Go out and make a miracle today. God's busy. He can't do it all." (page 194, showing the exact spelling!)This optimism sometimes feels jarring, but by the end of the book I felt that this IS how the author sees the world around her. It does not reflect a childish style of writing but rather a way of looking at life. This view is mirrored in most every sentence:"The Japanese occupation forces were not raised in a Swiss finishing school..." (page 177). This is just one quip, displaying Ursula's tone, how she expresses herself. Religious themes are covered, as the child becomes a teenager and doesn't know how to deal with the horror around her. She sees the different religions with clarity and does not hesitate to question and doubt the set views of Judaism, Lutheranism and Buddhism. As an individual she is curious and behaves in a manner beyond her years A close friendship grows between her and Yuan Lin, a Chinese Buddhist priest with a degree in economics from Harvard. He had a Chinese father and an English mother. The people you meet, the life you live through Ursula's tale are memorable. She puts all these religious beliefs and life experiences together and come out with her own religion, one that fits her and makes her a wonderful human being. The history and exact detail of life in Shanghai 1939-1947 are interestingly described. The book includes marvelous photos depicting the author's life in Shanghai. They are not modern photos, but ones taken by her friends, then and there, when they lived this life! I highly recommend this book. *************************I am only on page 20, so I shouldn't have any opinion yet, but I do. I love it. I cannot put it down. The author, Ursula Bacon, from a wealthy Jewish, German family, tells of her experiences fleeing Germany with her mother and father in 1939 by rail from Breslau, Germany, (now Wrocauw, Poland) and then by steamboat traveling to far off Shanghai, one of the few spots on the earth willing to accept Jews. America, Canada, South America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and of course the European countries had all closed their borders. They were the lucky ones endowed with money! So it was to Shanghai they were headed. Shanghai was the "armpit of the world", the "slum-scum of the Orient" or the "boil on the hide of China". Take your pick! She is flung from her eiderdown, luxurious quilts to rescuing her father from a German prison - alone, dragging him naked in a burlap bag out the prison gates. She is 10! The tale is immediately gripping and horrifying and yet hopeful too. You understand from the first few pages what kind of a family Ursula comes from. On departure, she receives a blank diary from Maria Burdach in which she is to recount her tale:"'You'll be back soon,' she tried to assure herself and me, forcing a smile as she dabbed at her face with one of her lavender-scented, lace-edged hankies. She made me promise to write everything down every day, so she could read all about our life in China. As the oldest of the Burdach family, Maria was head housekeeper and watched over her three brothers, her two sisters, and their mates, to see that Marienhall - the home we had fled - ran smoothly. The whole family, including Grandmother and Grandfather Burdach, had been managing the estate long before my Grandfather, the Old Baron, had given it to his son. My father always said the Burdach family had belonged to the land a heck of a lot longer than the Old Baron, and had a lot more class. The young Burdach children were my playmates on the few occasions I escaped Fraulein Amanda, and among the eight of us, there wasn't a corner of the fields or the gardens of our fairy-tale forest we didn't know. We swore, in unison, that we all had seen the "White Lady" - the sad ghost of Marienhall - float through the hallways and the attic, trailing yards and yards of a filmy silk gown - moaning and weeping. Her dark hair streamed behind her like silk ribbons as she moved lightly from room to room searching for her lost child. Never mind what Fraulein Amanda said. We knew a ghost when we saw one." (page 19-20)There, you get a taste of the prose, although mind you, this was a happy sequence. Sometimes it isn't that hard to determine right at the start if a book is going to be a winner. Perhaps I will be proven wrong, but I bet this will end up a 5 star book.

  • Barbara
    2019-05-16 17:38

    I received this shopworn copy from the library today and plunged right in. It reads like a novel! Much more will be added as I get further along, but I am "hooked"!********************************************************Most people are familiar with the WW II Holocaust literature involving European Jewish people and other victims, but this book relates the saga of those who sought shelter in Shanghai. It was especially of interest to me because my family has members who immigrated to Harbin, China from Europe during this period. Unfortunately we have lost contact and I cannot personally add to this story.Ursula Bacon'sShanghai Diaryis a memoir of her family's escape from Nazi Germany to Shanghai, from 1939 when she was just 9 years old, to 1947. Few people are aware of this refuge for approximately 18,000 European refugees. Bacon stated that Shanghai had always been termed "the armpit of the world, the slum-scum of the Orient and the boil on the hide of China". Throughout her narrative, it is clear that the immigrants' lives there were far from easy, or pleasurable. They suffered much privation, including hunger, poor sanitation, overcrowding and disease. Despite all this, these refugees, who had already experienced losses of home, loved ones, cherished belongings and outrageous brutality, now felt relatively safe with great hopes for the future.Occasionally I wondered how Bacon was able to recall conversations and events with such fine detail, but the narrative was so enthralling, I concluded that it was an impressive chapter in Jewish history, nevertheless. She did recount early in the book that she had diaries, so I believe these served her well. She interwove tales of her fellow refugees with rich details, often with harsh, painful realism, but clear and evocative.The environment was challenging, difficult, grim and often horrific. Sanitation was non-existent, rats ran freely, living quarters were incommodious and generally unsuited for human habitation, food was scarce,unavailable or barely palatable. Yet the survival skills of these people were innovative, remarkable and admirable. They managed to provide for themselves and others in small, meaningful ways. "When I was admiring the little organ, she grinned, and told how she had traded a curling iron and 2 heavy skillets for the ersatz piano. "That pretty much described the needs of many of the Jewish refugees.Music, art and books were the inspiration to help them rise above their misery. By getting lost in the jubilant notes of a Beethoven symphony, dreaming with Shubert and Mendelsohn, living for a moment in the pages of literature, we fed on food for the spirit, even if food for the body was sparse." (p.158)The people seemed to survive by their hopes for the future and by their close association and cooperation with fellow escapees. Their favorite entertainment was animated conversation over numerous cups of hot tea.Despite the fact that Bacon had lost her childhood, she developed in the world of adults with self-sufficiency and wisdom and an appreciation for the simple things of life and Nature.Although quite different, this book makes me think of , Empire of the Sun .

  • PDXReader
    2019-04-23 16:53

    I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book, and how quickly it moved along. Often first-person accounts get mired in things the author thinks is important, but which the readers really don't care that much about. Such was not the case with this book. The story was fascinating from start to finish, and I learned a bit of history about which I'd been ignorant.

  • jag
    2019-04-22 15:53

    I enjoyed this autobiography of a young German girl's experiences in Shanghai during WWII. Previously I had limited knowledge about the fate of German citizens who fled to China at the start of the war. Written for young adults, Bacon tells a compelling story of her life in that city, under the Chinese and then under the Japanese as they ruled China.

  • Wendy
    2019-04-21 18:54

    I never knew that Jews fled to Shanghai. I loved Ursala's storytelling style. It captivated the historian in me searching for how her tale fit or contrasted with other refugee narratives and WWII knowledge I had. Her structure is easy to follow and her interwoven tales of coming of age and how their world fit into the bigger picture of history was a great balance to the real hardships she and others endured.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-16 17:39

    Mediocre writing, but very interesting story. After having read so many holocaust memoirs centered around Euopean refugees, it was a new perspective to see it from the Asian front.

  • Monica
    2019-05-11 16:48

    Fascinating story about a bit of history that I knew nothing about. Ursula Bacon was 10 in 1939 when she and her parents escaped Nazi Germany and fled to Shanghai. It was the only place left that would accept Jewish refugees, and 20,000 of them ended up there, leaving everything behind and trying to build a life in the Shanghai ghetto. Starting out with very little money, no knowledge of the language and customs, shocked at the level of poverty and disease, they managed to find friends, create jobs, and survive.Ursula and her parents were brave,resourceful, adaptable and creative, and somehow managed to maintain a sense of humor and optimism amid the most trying circumstances. Ursula is an excellent storyteller - and what a story! At 14 she was giving English lessons to the three young concubines of an important Chinese general, learning all about the life of that household, studying martial arts, helping her father in his house painting business.When the Japanese took Shanghai the family and friends became refugees once again, had to move from their pleasant, safe neighborhood back to a squalid ghetto. They kept up with events from the outside world with hidden radios and did what they could to support the Allies. They risked their lives to rescue and hide downed American airmen.It was not until 1947 that the family was finally able to realize the dream of moving to the US and making the new lives that they had hoped for for so long. It's a wonderful story about amazingly brave and resourceful people,

  • Rea
    2019-05-12 17:45

    This book taps into an unknown but fasinating aspect of World War II, the refugee Jews in Shanghai. Unfortnuatley I found the writing style to be slightly repetative and infused with cliched descriptive adjectives. The tone was too child-like through-out which prevented the reader from regarding with respect and awe the author's experiences in extraodinary times. This was also aggravated by the fact that some experiences were described in a dead-pan rush which left the reader cheated (think about her encounter with the Japanese officer). The story-line occassionally suffered from being too literal, with sentences such as 'and then we boarded the train' being superflous. The risk with auto-biographies is that the author cannot help with hindsight to paint themselves in a better light, but luckily Ursula Bacon does not fall into this trap although she did over-use the sentence 'I've so much to learn'. It's easy to read and an honest account of extraodinary times.

  • Emma
    2019-05-18 18:45

    I'm almost finished with this book and I've been enmeshed in the story. This book makes one really think about what it's like an American and how persecution existed in both China and here during the McCarthy Era. I'm really enjoying it.I highly recommend this book

  • Julie
    2019-05-07 19:46

    I learned a lot about a part of wwii I never knew existed while reading this book, but I didn't think Ursula was a very good writer. I borrowed it from the library and someone had corrected many of her facts and claims in pencil, so she didn't seem very reliable. Wasn't a big fan of her style.

  • April
    2019-04-21 23:42

    Very well told story of a young woman and her family escaping Berlin before WWII.

  • Victoria Wright
    2019-05-16 15:34

    Amazing but true memoir

  • Barbara Pearlman
    2019-05-03 17:53

    Before WWII 18,000 European Jews immigrated to Shanghai to escape the Nazis. They were welcomed by the Chinese government and China was the only country in the world that would accept them. They were greeted with poverty, pestilence, filth, unsanitary conditions and horrible weather. In spite of this many of them eked out survival and managed to earn a living and live well until the Japanese invaded China. Then they returned to the horrible conditions that greeted them when they first arrived. The author, tells their story and her story in an uplifting memoir covering the years from 1939 until 1947. This book could have been horribly depressing. But Ursula and her family never lost hope. This book is awesome.

  • Kara
    2019-04-20 16:52

    This memoir recounted a German, Jewish born girl's adolescence spent in Shanghai with her family during WWII. In her flowing prose, the author shares the chronology of her family's escape from Germany and particularly how they lived in Shanghai. I gained quite an education and many insights from reading this book, and I have a far greater understanding of what these 18,000 or so refugees experienced.

  • Bahamafamily
    2019-05-14 20:54

    loved this book. honest, thoughtful, descriptive, human.

  • Tanya
    2019-05-18 15:56

    Really graphic book about the Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WWII. To think they were the lucky ones.

  • Charmaine Anderson
    2019-05-20 19:35

    I decided while reading this book that I like books about real life experiences, especially if I don’t know much about the time period. I didn’t know that as many as 20,000 Jews escaped Hitler’s clutches by traveling to China during Hitler’s reign of terror. If you had a boat ticket to China it was even possible to get out of a Nazi prison. Ursula Bacon is 10 years old when her family escaped to China in 1939. The story moves from their opulent home in Germany to the boat passage and on to the crowded ghettos of Shanghai. There was no sitting and sulking in this family. They immediately made friends, found jobs and worked hard to make life as good as possible in a forbidding exile.The details of their struggles and joys were intriguing. Ursula’s parents were filled with patience and wisdom as they constantly encouraged Ursula to go on. They proved that enduring is all about attitude. Her father said:"This is not a paradise, but we don't have to worry about the Gestapo and the SS. Compared to Hitler's death camps, his butchers, his ovens, his gas chambers - we had merely been inconvenienced!"Ursula lost the carefree teen years in the stress of it all. So many situations forced her to be and adult. I was impressed with the social connections among the refugees. They seemed to advise, support and expound wise encouragement to each other. Even among the Chinese Ursula experienced friendships. From her mother: “Memories are wonderful, and we all have them. They are part of us. But we need to treat them like a favorite picture book that we enjoy looking at, and when we close the book, the pictures stay on the pages. If you let the past live your life, my child, then the present has no value, and the future is doomed to failure. Look at what we once all had—those fine and generous gifts, be grateful for them, but recognize the new gifts coming your way. Live in the present, take what life has to offer, adjust, and if nothing else, make a memory of everything. In the depth of my heart I know that everything we are given now, we will be able to put to good use at another time.” (p. 77)“Candles warmed the room—their flickering glow softening the ragged edges of our troubled times, and sent me straight into the pockets of my heart....” (such a lovely thought)“I came to realize that life was not about events, life was about people. I have learned to treasure friendships and to recognize what it takes to be a good friend.” Advice from a Mrs. Goldberg: “Go out and make a miracle today, God’s busy, He can’t do it all...she sent me on my way, giving me a purpose for the day and meaning to my young life for as long as I shall live. She handed me wings to fly, opened my eyes to a world that needed miracles, and gave me the assurance I could do God’s work.” It was a time of spiritual awakening and questioning. Maybe something we all do in troubled times. From Ursula :“I wanted the kind of assurance that there existed a plan, an orderliness of events, a reason, and a purpose. I wanted to believe in a continuation of life as it changed form and substance. I wanted to believe that I was part of it; I wanted to believe that I was not a mistake, I was not a joke. I needed that deep, inner knowing that I too, had a purpose. I wanted to trust that knowing.” (p. 228)The family lived in China for 8 years, two of the years after the war had ended, as they worked on getting visas to come to the United States. For me the book was about the importance of a community in our life. Wherever or whatever we are dealing with, our associations can help us get through. Enjoyable!

  • Heather
    2019-05-21 16:50

    I always like autobiography novels, and I learned a lot more about WW2 through this book than I did in school. How interesting to flee Germany and end up in Shanghai.favorite quotes to remember:"anybody can sign and dance and celebrate in good times. That's easy, and we don't give it much thought. But when we are able to celebrate life in any form in bad times, in means to me that we can rise above our circumstances and express our indestructbile spirit and the gift of life itself." author's mother pg. 89"The Fourth Marine Corps was leaving--... everyone looked up to America-America, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mark Twain, the Grand Canyon, democracy, opportunities, clean water, fresh air, and freedom-precious freedom of just being. Now the keepers of that freedom were leaving." pg. 98"It took me a long time to go to sleep that night. There was so much to worry about, some of which was a great puzzle. War was a puzzle. I thought a lot about it, and I remembered the wars in my history books: people killing each other because of differences. The country whose generals killed the most people usually won. War--nothing to be proud of, including winning, I thought." pg. 107" 'how quickly one's world can change. The whim of a king, the quirk of a leader, the wild idea of an empress, and it's, 'off with your head.' Yesterday's friend, today's foe." Kurt Vogel philosophized. 'That's life,' my father cut in with his precise and unromantic logic. 'the most important thing is that--whim or no whim- we don't lose our heads. We don't give in. We've all talked of going to America. That's our goal, our destination, regardless of the detours we have to take. Let's plan on preserving.'I recommend a line from a English poet: 'to strive, to seek to find, and not to yield.' My father could have written these words" pg. 114"Remember, it's all the same. There are many roads, but only one Destination. It's all the same." ..."we are no one's judge and no one's jury." ..."everyone on this earth is here by plan-his plan, her plan. Karma. Everyone is filling his destiny." pg. 208 / 209"when this is over. When you once again live in normal circumstances...we are everything we have ever been, only more so. We are our own work." pg. 230"so many people are afriad to release the pain and suffering they have experience; to let go of the past, becuase that is all they believe they have. The don't know with what to fill the hole that letting go leaves behind. I'm telling you different: Take the past and toss it! Toss it into the winds. Let the winds carry it away from you. You are ready to embrace the present and reach out to the future with joyful anticpation, with gratitute in your heart for all the gifts that await you. The past has given you strength, and the future will give you wisdom. you see..." pg. 255

  • Tee Minn
    2019-05-07 17:41

    When you finish a book and you start reading the back jacket and the forward again, you know it spoke to you. Shanghai Diary is a moving memoir that hurts your soul with our inhumanity, but lifts you up as Ursula matures from an 8 year old girl to a teenager recognizing all the gifts we are to each other. Admittedly I am not knowledge about the plight of the Jewish refugees to China and their limited choices. "The rest of the world had closed its my optic eyes to the horrors of Nazi Germany, closed its ears to the pitiful cries for help, and consequently, barred its doors to those trying to escape from the nightmare of calculated genocide. America, Mexico, Canada, South America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, not to mention the European nations and their colonies, all were unwilling to accept refuges.Shanghai, restless metropolis of footloose adventures and fortune hunters, home to the black sheep of europe's upper crust, and breeding ground of sinners and pleasure seekers, kept its gates wide open and at the drop of a chopstick, offered shelter to Europe's Jews." She had wealth as a child in Germany, a nanny focused on excellence in education and a charmed life that became a dream land to conjure up and live in when faced with the unimaginable realities. She becomes strong in character, a seeker of knowledge, and as her Vati instills in her, keeps the pursuit for the future as the best dream. "Music, art, and books were the inspiration to help us rise above our misery. By getting lost in the jubilant notes of Beethoven symphony, dreaming with Schubert, or living for a moment in the pages of literature, we fed on food for the spirit, even if food for the body was sparse... What a country; every time we turned around we learned something new." This speaks to me as she vividly describes the camps and its filth, disease, rancid deadly smells, yet finds life endearing, and adjusts to the new culture, sort of. No time for youthful dreams or planning a future as what is next is unknown. But Ursula recalls her Nanny's childhood lecture, "fear is a terrible thing; it robs you of your power, it weakens your beliefs that good things can happen, and it feeds the evil in your enemies. Never, never act from fear," she was advised, "you will lose every time." She struggles with God and the multiple faiths that become infused in her life. She befriends a monk who she asks to help her. "Remember, it is all the same. There are many roads, but one Destination... I learned that peace is about understanding self and others. I was not on this planet to change the world. The work I had to do was me."

  • Laura Hancock
    2019-05-11 22:55

    Did you know that 18,000 Jews escaped Europe by living in Shanghai? I didn't, until I saw this book. It's a fascinating tale of the author when she was a child. Many were Germans who had escaped their country when the Nazis were elected. The United States, Canada, and countries in Central and South America had immigration quotas and closed their doors to the Jews. But China did not, so many headed there, thinking they were safe at the other end of the world. Then the war in the Pacific erupted. Since Germany was in an alliance with Japan (and Italy,) they were required to move into a ghetto called Hong-kew. Conditions were deplorable and got worse as the war waged on and Chinese stores began running out of basic supplies and food. In between the tales of bombing raids, unsanitary conditions, hilarious cultural faux pas, the author weaves a coming-of-age story. The book is self-publshed and there are some editing errors. For a long time, while reading the book, I wondered why she couldn't find a proper publisher. Then I read about the murder. She murdered a Japanese soldier by mistake. It was in self-defense, really. She also helped transport some American soldiers to a safe house. They had crashed in a plane and the Japanese were looking for them. I'm sure a publisher would have wanted those stories emphasized and she probably chose to forge her own way in self-publishing to have more control over the story.

  • Amy
    2019-04-27 20:36

    It was an interesting book to read, to see what type of refuge Shanghai was during WWII. Many people didn't know how many Jews were allowed to come here - so that was interesting. The author starts off the story with almost an apology that she never really felt right in writing this because so many suffered so much, but she wanted to add to the historical record. And it was really true - so it was nice she prefaced with that.One of the most interesting parts was that most of the "horrible conditions" that they suffered from, especially when they initially arrived and before they were contained to Hongkew district were actually better than the living conditions of the poor Chinese in the city! Overall it was interesting to know about those times, but not the most compelling book to read. I was easy to read - not sure if it is actually a YA book or adult book. Other than the entire subject matter of the Holocaust there isn't really objectionable language, etc. and it remains upbeat and optimistic, so as I think about it now - it must be a YA book. Maybe about 8th grade.

  • Paige
    2019-04-28 17:55

    This was an eye-opening read about the life of those who had fled Germany during WWII. This is the first book I have read about the experiences of those whose only option of leaving was going to China. The author's experiences demonstrate her courage, strength, and heart to see the good in any situation. She captures the many tragic moments she lived through in such detail that she brings the roller-coaster of emotions one can have to surface. I appreciate the time the author took to describe the scenes, smells and attitudes of those living in Asia at that time.This book was a very fast read for me. I highly recommend this book to any who are interested in WWII.Also, during this book there are two characters (the father and Yuan Lin) who provide great advice worth reading and taking in.

  • Marcy
    2019-04-26 23:44

    Having visited the Shanghai Jewish Museum and touring the neighborhood before reading this book gave Ursula's tale so compelling for me! When so many Jews were turned away from other countries because of quotas, Shanghai opened its doors to thousands upon thousands of Jews who were lucky enough to escape death in Germany and other countries that Hitler took over. While the Shanghai Museum portrayed a haven for the Jews, Ursula's refugee tale was quite different. Her family lived in poverty, in a neighborhood filled with disease, feces, and decaying bodies. During their eight year stay, Ursula took comfort in living with her memories of the past, terrified of what the future would hold under Japanese occupation, but came to terms with each unhappy event in the ghetto with the help of her family and good friends. This is a tale of courage and endurance. A must read.

  • Donna Johnson
    2019-05-18 17:52

    This is an amazing memoir about a teenagers life on the run from the Nazis. Even though I have studied a lot about the Holocaust, this is the first time I had ever heard of the "Shanghai Jews". It's amazing how vivid Bacon's memories are despite the fact that she was only 11 when she left Germany for Shanghai. Also amazing (and this always amazes me) is the human spirit that we see in this book. Despite the fact that her family and friends were in such a desolate situation, they continued to readjust, live their lives - even have fun - and maintain such hope for the future. The only thing that I wish there had been were photos of the people that she encountered and her family (although it is possible that the photos were lost).

  • Bonnie
    2019-05-20 20:41

    Another wonderful gift from my friend Carol. Ursula’s family narrowly escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. They fled to Shanghai where they remained until moving to the United States in 1947.This memoir describes their flight, the shock of arrival, life in the relative comfort of the French Concession, and their struggle to survive the abysmal conditions of the Hongkew ghetto. Ursula is eleven when they arrive; this is where she grows up. Her education comes from learning how to navigate this strange world with the warmth, love, and wisdom of her parents and newfound friends.The book flows - a quick, compelling read.

  • Ally Armistead
    2019-05-19 23:41

    "Shanghai Diary"--the memoir of a Jewish girl who flees from Nazi Germany to war-torn Shanghai--is 2 out of 5 stars for me. I REALLY wanted to like this more, but the accounts of Ursula are detached and told in generalities, which make it difficult to enter her world fully. The best and most interesting parts of the book are the details about the unsanitary conditions of the Shanghai refugee districts in the 40s (the disease, the rats, the starvation) and the appearance of a Eurasian Buddhist monk with turquoise eyes and beautiful insights into how we can accept tragedy as a part of our beautiful journeys.

  • Sandy
    2019-05-08 23:02

    An "easy read" and at the same time an extremely hard-to-read true account of a remarkable young girl, a Jewish refugee, whose flees Nazi Germany with her parents to wait out the war in Shanghai, China. The author, Ursula Bacon, tells the story of her youth with innocence, intimacy, courage, humor, and intelligence. The memoir reads like a young person's diary, rich with thinking and dreaming, and the reader comes to know Ursula's parents, her housemates, and her many new friends - rich and poor - including an endearing and wise Buddhist monk. Again and again, the young Ursula speaks for humanity, asking "Why war? It's so barbaric!" Let's keep asking.

  • Jeanne
    2019-04-23 23:37

    I am drawn to stories of the WWII era and especially those from the Pacific. This is the true story of Jewish refugees who fled Germany and lived out the war in Shanghai. I did not know that this had happened. The story is told from the point of view of the author who was only 10 when they first arrived. She grew up quickly, too quickly. I enjoyed Ursula's plain writing. She vividly described the culture shock experienced by these Europeans now living among the Chinese. She brought me into that world, though she did not wallow in gloom and desperation. Thumbs up.

  • Donia
    2019-05-21 20:33

    Simple but excellent true account of Jewish family who flees Germany and Nazi persecution during WW2. The family finds refuge in the only country left who was willing to accept Jews. The highly educated, once wealthy family flees with nothing but the clothes on their backs and manages to survive the duration of the war in Shanghai, China using their wits and determination despite all but insurmountable odds. This is yet another war time account of the awesome ability of the human spirit to make a life despite tremendous strife.

  • Michelle
    2019-04-30 16:00

    This was certainly a different Holocaust story--the Jewish author and her parents managed to escape Germany right before the beginning of WWII by taking a boat to Shanghai, China, where there was a sizable refugee community. Thy were allowed to live there by working and had a fairly comfortable life for a while, but eventually the Japanese forced them into a ghetto with bad conditions. Still, better than Auschwitz, and all three of them survived and eventually were able to get to America. Unusual story, but pretty well told.