38 min

From Vienna to Shanghai: A Memoir of Escape, Survival and Resistance Barbarians at the Gate

    • History

In this week’s episode, we talk with Jean Hoffmann Lewanda about her father Paul Hoffmann’s memoir, Witness to History: From Vienna to Shanghai: A Memoir of Escape, Survival and Resilience, recently published by Earnshaw Books. Paul Hoffmann left Vienna at the age of 18 to escape the rise of Nazism, arrived in Shanghai in 1938, and became a part of the historic stream of Jewish refugees who found a haven in China during WWII. His memoirs describe the harsh living conditions in the Hongkou Ghetto during the Japanese occupation and the lifestyles of the multicultural, multinational community in Shanghai. Paul eked out a living teaching English and mathematics while obtaining a law degree from Aurora University (currently Fudan University). He worked for the American lawyer Norwood Allman (who was secretly the US spy chief in China (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ND2LUKQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1)). Paul remained in China during the communist takeover in 1949, managing the dissolution of his law firm, and witnessed firsthand the harassment, imprisonment, and expulsions to which the foreign community was subjected. After rediscovering her father’s memoirs, Jean Hoffmann Lewanda edited the text, weaving in the various photographs and documents Paul left behind. The result is Witness to History, a gripping and sometimes harrowing memoir of a man who was caught up in the tides of one of the most tumultuous periods in history and lived to tell the story.

In this week’s episode, we talk with Jean Hoffmann Lewanda about her father Paul Hoffmann’s memoir, Witness to History: From Vienna to Shanghai: A Memoir of Escape, Survival and Resilience, recently published by Earnshaw Books. Paul Hoffmann left Vienna at the age of 18 to escape the rise of Nazism, arrived in Shanghai in 1938, and became a part of the historic stream of Jewish refugees who found a haven in China during WWII. His memoirs describe the harsh living conditions in the Hongkou Ghetto during the Japanese occupation and the lifestyles of the multicultural, multinational community in Shanghai. Paul eked out a living teaching English and mathematics while obtaining a law degree from Aurora University (currently Fudan University). He worked for the American lawyer Norwood Allman (who was secretly the US spy chief in China (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ND2LUKQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1)). Paul remained in China during the communist takeover in 1949, managing the dissolution of his law firm, and witnessed firsthand the harassment, imprisonment, and expulsions to which the foreign community was subjected. After rediscovering her father’s memoirs, Jean Hoffmann Lewanda edited the text, weaving in the various photographs and documents Paul left behind. The result is Witness to History, a gripping and sometimes harrowing memoir of a man who was caught up in the tides of one of the most tumultuous periods in history and lived to tell the story.

38 min

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