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The Unbroken Past: From Germany to Shanghai to San Francisco

  • Jewish Community Library 1835 Ellis St San Francisco United States (map)
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Free admission with free garage parking on Pierce St between Ellis and Eddy streets.

Kurt and Jeanette Nothenberg lived comfortably in the middle class in Germany raising their only child, Rudy. Following Kristallnacht, Kurt was arrested and sent to Buchenwald, but was later released on the condition that he leave the country immediately. The family left by train to Genoa, where they embarked on a journey by sea to Shanghai. Professor Ostoyich interviewed Rudy Nothenberg, formerly the chief administrative officer of San Francisco, and sifted through archival documents to chronicle the Nothenberg family’s time in Shanghai, as well as the complex story of how Rudy, Jeanette, and Kurt, each made it to the United States in succession. The Nothenberg family’s refugee history is a timely one, given the present rise in xenophobia and antisemitism in the United States.

Kevin Ostoyich is professor of history at Valparaiso University, where he has taught since 2006 and served as history department chair from 2015 to 2019. He holds a PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of The German Society of Pennsylvania: A Guide to Its Book and Manuscript Collections and publishes regularly on issues pertaining to German history, German American studies, and the Shanghai Jewish refugee community.

Co-presented by Congregation B’nai Emunah, the JFCS Holocaust Center of Northern California, and the Sino-Judaic Institute.