A Life-time Toy

- Josef Rossbach
Josef Rossbach was born in 1944 in Hongkou, where he spent five unforgettable years. Like most Jewish refugees from Hamburg, Germany, Josef’s parents and grandparents came to Shanghai to escape the Holocaust between 1939 and 1947.

Today, Josef Rossbach lives in Hamburg-mitte District of Hamburg City, a sister district of Hongkou. 

When interviewed by Hamburger Abendblatt in October 2007 about the sister-district relationship, Josef produced a toy bamboo rickshaw, which he played with in Hongkou. This rickshaw represented a sweet childhood memory with his Shanghai neighbor, who after pulling a rickshaw all day to make a living, would come home and pull Josef and his own children around on it. To Josef, this is a sweet memory, and one of the reasons he wishes to return to Shanghai and see whether there are still rickshaws in the city.

“Rickshaw toy and Hongkou, all this is part of my life. During those years, the Chinese gave us a lot of help. Without the Chinese people, we might have been killed.”

In 2010, Josef contributed his toy rickshaw and story to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The toy became a popular attraction that received a great deal of attention in the traveling exhibition in Hamburg, Benin and Hanover, Germany, in 2011.