Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
Name: Susanne Hafner Goldfarb (1933 – 1987)
Birth Place: Vienna, Austria
Arrived in Wisconsin: 1969, Madison
We went through it. We didn't make it up. It's not made up.
Susanne Hafner Goldfarb was born in Vienna, Austria, on February 17, 1933. She was the only child of a middle-class Jewish family. Nazi Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. Rising anti-Semitism and the threat of war prompted her family to flee their homeland in early 1939.
Six-year-old Susanne and her family left Europe on a luxury liner bound for Shanghai, China. They found refuge with more than 20,000 other European Jewish exiles in the Japanese-occupied sector of that city. The refugees were able to create a mulitfaceted Jewish community in Shanghai.It included commercial, religious, cultural, and educational institutions. Susanne attended synagogue, studied in Jewish schools, and belonged to a Zionist social club.
The Hafners eked out a living by delivering bread in their neighborhood, the Hongkew district. In May 1943, Japanese authorities introduced anti-Semitic measures. The Hongkew district turned into a Jewish ghetto and all Shanghai Jews were restricted to this area.
As World War II unfolded, Shanghai came under increased assault from U.S. warplanes. Susanne's family worked as air raid wardens and suffered the terror of heavy bombing attacks. In August 1945, the U.S. liberated the Hongkew Ghetto. Soon after, China descended into civil war. In 1949 the Chinese Communists came to power. The Hafners, fearing persecution under the communist regime, immigrated to Israel in January 1949.
In 1953, the Hafners immigrated to New York City. They lived in an insulated community of Jewish refugees until 1969. In New York Susanne met Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, whom she married in 1963. The Goldfarbs moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1969. Susanne worked with the University of Wisconsin's Office of Foreign Students and Faculty until her death in June 1987.
Audio and Transcript Information
Below are the highlights of each tape. They do not list all topics discussed. Recordings of only one tape side are marked: (no Side 2). Documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost. See Rights and Permissions
Listen to Susanne's testimony and view transcript
- Susanne's family and childhood in Vienna
- German Anschluss, March 1938
- Decision to go to China
- The voyage to Shanghai
- The Shanghai Jewish community
- Difficult living conditions
- Relations with Japanese occupiers
- School life
- Synagogues in Shanghai
- Secular education
- A typical morning routine
- Involvement in Betar (Zionist youth group)
- Refugee life in Shanghai
- Poverty, crime, and black market activities
- Emotional life as a child living through these conditions
- Japanese authorities and Nazi propaganda
- Her family in Austria, memories of Vienna
- Arriving in Shanghai
- Establishment of the Shanghai Ghetto, 1943
- Typical day in the Shanghai Ghetto
- Life under Allied bombings, 1945
- The end of the war
- Arrival of U.S. troops, August 1945
- Postwar conditions
- Her last years in China
- Voyage to Israel, Jan-Feb 1949
- Life in the new state of Israel
- Decision to leave Israel for the U.S.
- Immigrating to New York, 1953
- Side trip to Vienna
- Life in New York and marriage
- Moving to Wisconsin, 1969, working with foreign students in Madison
- Reflections on immigrating to the U.S.
- Relations among American Jews
- The role of religion in her life in 1980
- Reading habits and social life in Madison
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