Cover image for Ten green bottles : the true story of one family's journey from war-torn Austria to the ghettos of Shanghai
Ten green bottles : the true story of one family's journey from war-torn Austria to the ghettos of Shanghai
Kaplan, Vivian Jeanette, 1946-
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2004.

Physical Description:
ix, 285 pages ; 22 cm
Recounts how the author and her family was marginalized and tormented for their Jewish heritage after the Nazi invasion of Austria, describing how they were forced to flee to a Shanghai ghetto where the living conditions tested their ability to survive.
Personal Subject:

Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
DS135.A93 K375 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DS135.A93 K375 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS135.A93 K375 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
DS135.A93 K375 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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To Nini Karpel, growing up in Vienna during the 1920s was a romantic confection. Whether schussing down ski slopes or speaking of politics in coffee houses, she cherished the city of her birth. But in the 1930s an undercurrent of conflict and hate began to seize the former imperial capital. This struggle came to a head when Hitler took possession of neighboring Germany. Anti-Semitism, which Nini and her idealistic friends believed was impossible in the socially advanced world of Vienna, became widespread and virulent.

The Karpel's Jewish identity suddenly made them foreigners in their own homeland. Tormented, disenfranchised, and with a broken heart, Nini and her family sought refuge in a land seven thousand miles across the world.

Shanghai, China, one of the few countries accepting Jewish immigrants, became their new home and refuge. Stepping off the boat, the Karpel family found themselves in a land they could never have imagined. Shanghai presented an incongruent world of immense wealth and privilege for some and poverty for the masses, with opium dens and decadent clubs as well as rampant disease and a raging war between nations.

Ten Green Bottles is the story of Nini Karpel's struggles as she told it to her daughter Vivian so many years ago. This true story depicts the fierce perseverance of one family, victims of the forces of evil, who overcame suffering of biblical proportion to survive. It was a time when ordinary people became heroes.

Author Notes

Vivian Jeanette Kaplan was born in Shanghai. She graduated from the University of Toronto, where she studied English, French, and Spanish. She is married and has three sons. For a number of years the family owned and ran a lakeside lodge in Muskoka, north of Toronto. For twenty years she had her own business, Vivian Kaplan Oriental Interiors

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Nini Karpel, her ailing mother, and her young brother left Vienna in 1939 after Germany invaded Austria, fleeing to Shanghai, China, then occupied by Japan--a month-long, 7,000-mile trip across the Pacific. Kaplan, who was born in Shanghai, has written this memoir in the first-person voice of her mother, Nini Karpel, who married Poldi Kosiner there in 1940. By listening to her mother's retelling of the events, Kaplan became familiar with the story. She describes the voyage, first impressions of the city and the ghetto of Hongkew, missing baggage that was never found, coolies working as beasts of burden, and seeing the severed heads of Chinese who were captured by their Japanese enemies. They faced disease, hunger, poverty, and fear; they enjoyed their reunion with other family members; and they were pressured by nuns to convert to the Catholic faith. The family moved to Canada in 1949. Kaplan has written a remarkably vivid and richly detailed account of Jewish refugees struggling to stay alive. --George Cohen Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

For a brief period between 1938 and 1941, roughly 20,000 Jews found refuge from the Nazis in the one place not requiring visas, police certificates or proofs of financial independence: Shanghai. In this spellbinding memoir, Kaplan recounts her family's transition from the "delight" of Vienna to "a mysterious blob on the map, China." Writing in a fictional present tense, Kaplan narrates this evocative, moving saga in the voice of her mother, Nini. The halcyon early years of cafes and skiing end as the Nazis rise to power. Still, in 1936 when Nini meets her future husband, Poldi, a Polish refugee, she is "adamant that [persecution of Jews] could never happen here." It does. By 1939, her family will make the month-long, 7,000-mile journey to Shanghai. Amid "pervasive poverty... overpowering heat... [and] strange faces," Nini and Poldi find an anxious and precarious normality, but after Pearl Harbor, they struggle terribly. With the war's end comes the shock of learning what became of family and friends left behind in Europe. Although Vienna is rebuilt and a daughter (the author) is born, Communist troops arrive, and Nini and Poldi move again, this time to Canada. Kaplan's intimate knowledge of her parents' story makes it seem as if she experienced it herself, and her remarkable achievement will make readers feel that way, too. Agent, Barry Kaplan. (Nov. 10) Forecast: Although there is a ton of Holocaust literature, the China experience is not as well mined, which sets this book winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award apart. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

One of the great, tragic epics of the last century was the odyssey of Jewish families from Hitler's Europe to relative safety in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the late 1930s. (The Japanese were not anti-Semites, though when war broke out they were happy enough to accommodate their Fascist allies.) This beautifully composed and engrossing memoir relates the story of the author's mother, who traveled from 1920s Austria to Shanghai and eventually settled in Canada. Kaplan, winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award in Biography/Memoir, brings the history of the period to life as she shows how the family adapted to each development. Somehow, as in The Diary of Anne Frank, the outcome of this tale is uplifting and instructive, showing us that nobility endures despite political oppression, war, poverty, disease, and human pettiness. Although the general historical facts are well known, this is a worthwhile retelling of a story that each new generation should hear. Recommended for larger public libraries.-Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. x
1 Papa 1921p. 1
2 Changes 1922p. 7
3 Remembrance 1923p. 13
4 Vienna 1926p. 17
5 Growing Up 1931p. 24
6 Politics 1934p. 32
7 Poldi 1936p. 40
8 Passover Story 1937p. 45
9 Letters from Italy 1938p. 53
10 Anschluss 1938p. 60
11 The Devil's Warrior 1938p. 72
12 Means of Escape 1938p. 77
13 Kristallnacht November 1938p. 85
14 Farewell January 1939p. 93
15 Purge in Italy January 1939p. 99
16 Fatal Miscalculation February 1939p. 103
17 Departure 1939p. 108
18 The Voyage 1939p. 112
19 Shanghai 1939p. 120
20 The French Concession 1939p. 132
21 The Club 1939p. 141
22 Beshert 1939p. 149
23 We Are Married 1940p. 157
24 Return to Shanghai 1940p. 169
25 Ten Green Bottles 1940-1941p. 174
26 Pearl Harbor 1941p. 182
27 Hongkew 1942-1943p. 192
28 Survival 1944p. 209
29 Life in Hongkew 1944-1945p. 218
30 The War Continues 1943-1945p. 229
31 Bombs Fall in Hongkew 1945p. 232
32 Victory 1945p. 243
33 The Shock of the Holocaust 1945p. 251
34 Life after the War 1946p. 255
35 All's Well 1947p. 265
36 The Communists 1948p. 269
37 The Ship 1949p. 275
38 Toronto February 1949p. 282