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Klara Sharp

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
15 May 1905
Mode of Arrival:
Came to the UK from the US in 1962 (having survived the war in Shanghai)

Interview Summary:

Clara Sharp (née Wittenberg) grew up in Berlin. Her parents had come from Poland and were stateless. Her father had a knitwear factory. Clara went to Theodor Herzl school and later learnt hat-making. The family sailed to Shanghai on a boat run by the Italian Lloyd Triestino lines in 1939. When the Japanese occupied the city, the Jews were interned in a part of Shanghai called Hongkew.


Clara married in 1946 to a fellow refugee and had a daughter in 1947. In 1948 they emigrated to Israel, and in 1952 moved to the US. After her husband died in 1962, Clara came to the UK where her sister had settled, and married again. She has kept in touch with other people who spent the war in Shanghai and has attended several reunions. 

My father, strangely, like some others, thought that Hitler wouldn’t last, you know, it would be a passing thing. So then they waited and waited, which was of course not very clever.

When we arrived in Shanghai there was really nothing. They had what they call a Heim - a home. You didn’t get hardly anything to eat. I had to immediately start to make some money. I talked to someone and he said that there is a Russian bakery which has shops all over Shanghai always looking for salesgirls. … ‘You can start tomorrow.’

At that time we thought, ‘Now the war’s over - everything will be wonderful’. But it wasn’t really. Because we couldn’t leave Shanghai. The American and British had all been evacuated. The Communists were just outside Shanghai. There was no resistance.


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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