I could have been born in Berlin, Germany. I could have been born in Shanghai, China, but I popped out in San Francisco at the close of WWII.
It was war that brought me here. It was war that forced my parents to move from one country to another, places with great contrast, culturally. In 1938 Germany and China could not have been more different.
Fortunately, Shanghai in 1938 retained a European glow from decades earlier. Shanghai had been cut up into the French quarter, the Chinese quarter, the Japanese quarter and so on. Of course, I loved the French quarter–I saw it in 1984; I don’t know if it still exists but could relate to the European flavor more than the Asian part where years earlier people were starving and begging on the streets.I have historic photos to prove it.
Let me clarify the sentence above. Nobody was begging on the streets in 1984—but they were in 1938. When I was there I saw prosperity; I was able to go wherever I wanted and was treated exceptionally well. At one point, I forgot my purse in a Chinese restaurant and it was immediately found and returned to me. I loved China and how I wish I had experienced Shanghai when it was known as the “Paris of the East.”
My mom, who was usually credible, said she witnessed a person’s finger being removed with a knife to get a the gold ring he/she was wearing.
Since I am a romantic who loves the ideas of spies and secrets and sweating hot love, Shanghai still had it all in 1984. Now I hear it’s just another McDonald village. Not exactly but you get the idea.
If you know Germans you know they are obsessed with cleanliness. Shanghai in 1938 was not. I remember my father writing about the insects in his soup but he got used to it, like everything else, including being forced to give up their apartment to a Japanese apartment, one without a toilet or just about anything else. I have the documents sealing the deal.
While my family could not get into the USA during WWII and one relative, an aunt, who went to Paris, a cosmopolitan liberal place she thought she would be safe, but, of course wasn’t as she was picked up and never heard of again. In the past few years the Red Cross sent me a list of people, including my aunt and her husband, who had sought refuge in a famous Paris church, to no avail.
Every country we have gone to war with; I’m thinking of Vietnam right now. Well, I’m guessing, but apparently anyone who cooperated with the USA c could not remain in the country where they were born or they would be killed as “enemies.” They came heee to the USA and one of the businesses they’ve gotten into is medical supplies. I know this because of my experience with Mission Hospice when my beloved Burt was dying.
Gore Vidal often talks of Empire, of ancient Rome, comparing the two. Well,look around and you will see a lot of the people we went to war with, who probably collaborated with the USA, here, living here. And, you know what, I do not think they are happy. They had to leave their homes, just like my parents. It wasn’t their choice.
War has the power to move people in a social engineering way. What a dumb thing to do. What makes official believe that these people forced to leave their homes are really so enamored with this country where they encounter discrimination, language difficulties and you can imagine the rest. Entire lives, entire families are destroyed.