Survivor's Story: Escaped Holocaust In Shanghai Ghetto

May 6, 2016

Doris Fogel lights a candle at Illinois' Holocaust Memorial Ceremony in 2014. Each of the six candles represents 1 million people killed by the Nazis.
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week was Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, when we mark the slaughter of millions of Jews, political dissidents, gays and others at the hands of the Nazis.

Illinois marks the occasion with an annual memorial service in the Old State Capitol. The event includes the recollections of a Holocaust survivor, and today we're going to hear one such story, from back in 2014.

On the night of Nov. 9, 1938, Doris Fogel was living in Berlin. She was four years old, the daughter of a widow. That was Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass,” when the Nazis burned and vandalized Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues across Germany and Austria.

About 100 Jewish citizens were killed that night, but Fogel says no one could predict the horrors yet to come. Fortunately, family friends helped Fogel and a few relatives escape Germany before the Nazis ramped up their program of genocide. And this is where our story begins.

"The port city of Shanghai was, for many Jews, after the terrifying events of Kristallnacht, the last refuge that could be reached without a passport, visa, or affidavit — unlike the United States and Canada, who had already closed their doors," Fogel says.

After nearly a decade in at times terrible conditions, she left Shanghai and came to the United States, settling in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fogel, who was 79 when she shared her story in 2014, says it is incumbent upon the survivors, the living, to remember what happened — to "never forget."