Hello, Shanghai! I am here to find my roots

Time:2019/2/20 10:30:57

Xinhua NewsNineShanghai

Schaefer's parents, China

"It's always been in my dreams that one day I would come to Shanghai and visit the places where my parents had spent their lives here during the WW II."Horacio Schaefer, the 64 years old Principal Violist of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, told reporters on the evening of February 14th, when the Orchestra held its premiere at the Shanghai Grand Theatre for their China tour.


Unknown to the majority of the audience, Schaefer had spent the day before, accompanied by his colleague, on visiting the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum andtracing his family "roots".

Schaefer has been searching his family roots for some times. His mother came from Berlin Germany, and his father was born in Poland, both had to escape the atrocity against Jews during the WW II.  


They were fortunate enough to have obtained visa to China and arrived in Shanghai in 1939. While they later were constrained in the"segregation zone", also known as the"Shanghai Ghetto", by the Japanese invaders who occupied Shanghai at that time, they managed to have survived during that most difficult period of their lives there.


In the midst of the war, Schaefer's father got very ill. His mother tried her utmost efforts to save him while they were restricted by the Japanese in the ghetto. Fortunately, his parents got some help from the Chinese residents nearby whom they forged a deep friendship with.


Under his mother's tender care, his father eventually recovered from his illness, and celebrated the victory together with Shanghai residents when the War ended.

Schaefer visiting the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum

"I was looking forward to having this 'root seeking' journey for many years. When I went on to the internet to search information, I immediately found the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum webpage and learnt that the museum may help me to 'discover the past',so off I went. The staff of the museum was very nice and took me to see where my parents were most likely to live",Schaefer said.

With the assistance of Mr. Chen Jian, the curator of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, Schaefer found the names of his parents and his uncle Alfred, among those 13,732 names listed in the "Wall of Shanghai Jewish Refugees" —— "LUDWIG SCHAEFER;SILVA SCHAEFER;ALFRED SCHAEFER".


"Although I didn't have specific address for the place my parents used to live, Dr. Chen took me to the area where most Jewish refugees clustered at the time. By looking at those old houses there, I suddenly felt the emotional connections."

In 1949, Schaefer's parents left Shanghai and joined their relatives in Brazil where the young Schaefer was born there in 1955.  Schaefer‘s uncle Alfred went back to Berlin.


After Schaefer's parents passed away in 1997 and in 2001, he developed increasing sense of urgency of root seeking. The story should not end here, he thought.  


"Today's Shanghai is such a cosmopolitan city, so beautiful and livable. I think I will be back again very soon, maybe next year. I plan to donate all the old items my parents collected in the past to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. It's time for them to return to China where they belong."

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