NOW: > HOME > News of CJSS >

Jews In Qingdao

Time:2013-05-08 21:01 Source:未知 Writer:admin read:
By Gahl Leddel
Friedrich Grosz (the family name later changed to Growe from the Hungarian Grosz) served as a Shipping Agent and Forwarder providing a comfortable life for his wife, Stella, and their sons Peter and Charles. The family lived in the middle class thirteenth district of Vienna (Hietzing), Austria before moving to the eighth district (Josefstadt).  While the family was Jewish, they were thoroughly assimilated into the larger Austrian society with limited connections to the religious community.
Following the German annexation of Austria in 1938, the effects of the anti-Jewish laws began to impact the daily lives of the Grosz Family. The younger son, Charles, who was bright and had attended a public school for gifted children was dismissed from school on grounds of his Jewish ancestry. The older son, Peter, made arrangements to leave Vienna for England as part of the Kindertransport. Peter would later emigrate to Palestine  (before Israeli Independence) from England, took on the name of Dan Gilead, and was instrumental in the development of Kibbutz Hazorea in the Jezreel Valley. In an interesting turn of events, Dan would later work closely with the Israeli tycoon, Shaul Eisenberg, on ventures in China.
In 1938, Friedrich and Stella realized that there was no future for Jews in Nazi Germany, and decided to move with their 14 year old son, Charles, and two family dogs, to the only place available to Jews without a visa, Shanghai, China.
Since limited funds (equivalent of $10 per person) could be taken out of Austria, the family used their available assets to book first class accommodations through the Lloyd Triestino shipping company on the Conte Rosso ocean liner taking them from Trieste, Italy to Shanghai; in 1939 a thirty-day sea journey. Upon arrival in Shanghai, they were assisted in finding accommodations and in obtaining provisions by the Committee for the Assistance of European Jewish Refugees.
The conditions in Shanghai were extremely difficult and the Grosz Family were given space at a bombed out school where several hundred other refugees were also placed. A French Jew, Mr. Ginsburg, who had been in Qingdao, recommended to Friedrich to move the family there as the quality of life was considerably better with the chance to earn a living. Although under Japanese control, Qingdao was used by the U.S. Pacific Fleet serving in The Philippines as a naval station for rest and recuperation prior to World War II. 
The family obtained a Qingdao visa within a day in Shanghai, signed off by the Japanese, and moved to Qingdao. They rented a flat on 42 Guangsi Road across from the Victorian style Police Station and not far from the famed Pagoda Pier. The presence of Americans enabled the Grosz Family to secure an income from the rental of rooms and apartments to U.S. naval personnel. Charles picked up Mandarin and worked as a Junior Reception Clerk at the Jewish owned, Edgewater Hotel, in 1939 and 1940. The hotel was rented out by American naval officers until it was taken over by the Japanese in 1940.
Following the outbreak of World War II, relatively few problems arose since the Japanese did not persecute Jews as requested by their German ally. All foreigners were required to wear armbands showing their nationality. Charles does not recall whether his armband showed 'Austrian' or 'Jewish'. Only about 2,000 Europeans lived in Qingdao during the war, of which about half were German, and a small Jewish community resided there (mostly coming from Harbin) barely enough for a “minyan.”
A memorable experience for Charles was being arrested by the Japanese police at the tail end of their occupation. Charles was returning from Tianjin, where he went to make money selling handbags, and heard a radio report of atomic bombs dropped in Japan. The Japanese authorities arrested Charles for spreading news of the A-Bombs and he was placed in jail for ten days before being released following the Japanese surrender.
After the war, the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corp re-established a base in Qingdao. Benefitting from his fluent English language skills, Charles became a partner and bartender in a bar called “Charlie’s Joint” (also equipped with 2 slot machines) servicing American naval personnel with Tsingtao Beer. His income was sufficient for his and his parents' well being and for their forthcoming voyage to the United States. Through the efforts of an uncle residing in Detroit, Charles and his family came to the United States in 1948.
Charles married a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Of his immediate family, his grandmother perished during the Holocaust. Charles and his wife, Rachel, live in the United States and he still remembers a great deal of the Mandarin he learned as a young man in Qingdao.