The Center for Holocaust and genocide Studies-Muskegon marked the 77th Anniversary of Kristalnacht which occurred throughout Germany on November 9-10 1938.
It was a state sponsored pogrom against the Jews of Germany and woke the world to the brazen antisemitism which the Nazis now felt emboldened to demonstrate.
Edi Shafer’s family lived in Germany. Her father and grandfather were incarcerated in Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp outside of Berlin.
After their release her family made plans to leave and with forged papers they eventually arrived in Shanghai China where Jews could travel because you did not need a visa.
Despite the treaty with Germany the Japanese, who controlled Shanghai, did not have a history of antisemitism, and moved the 35,000 Jews into areas which had been occupied by the British and Americans. Life was hard and sometimes brutal. Edi was born the year after Max and Gerta arrived.
Mary Munson Murphy, who wrote the biography of Edi Shafer, shared the challenges of writing hard and difficult stories with integrity. Interviewed by Susan Harrison Wolffis, who has interviewed and written about survivors and liberators and rescuers, they talked about the ghetto in Shanghai and the challenges faced by those who fled Germany, Poland, Russia and elsewhere.
Also present and introduced by Mr. David Klemm, Social Studied department of the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, was Allison Chen who submitted a project on a Chinese diplomat who rescued hundreds of Jews for a Michigan history contest. She took top honor for her website. Asked how this had affected her life she said: “I will never see the world as I did before I started the project.” As Mr. Klemm commented, “That is a part of what public school education is about in children’s lives.”
Wolffis and Murphy traveled to several area schools who took up the invitation from the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies to bring Murphy to their campus. Thanks to Fruitport, North Muskegon and Orchard View for participating.