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Vogelweid, Hanni Sondheimer (1923-2006) | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Vogelweid, Hanni Sondheimer (1923-2006)
Fuller Form: Hanni Lore Sondheimer Vogelweid

Historical Note:

Hanni Sondheimer Vogelweid was born on October 5, 1923, in Berlin, Germany, to Moritz and Setty Sondheimer. The family moved from Germany to Estonia to do business, and later settled in Kaunas, Lithuania. At the start of World War II, the family, who was Jewish, began to look for a way out of Lithuania, as anti-semitism was rising in Eastern Europe. They were issued a visa to Japan by Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice consul in Lithuania credited with saving thousands of Jews by providing transit visas, and left Lithuania in February of 1941 with money sent from American relatives.

They traveled to Yokohama, Japan, where they stayed for six months waiting for their American visa paperwork. At that point their transit visas had expired, and they were forced to leave Japan for Shanghai, which did not require any paperwork. The Sondheimers, who were now considered stateless, were able to acquire a room in Shanghai with the money they had left over from the planned move to America, and they stayed until 1943. They were then forced to move into the Hongkew ghetto, formally known as the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees, where the Japanese forced 20,000 Jewish and other refugees during the war. As the war went on and the family needed money, Vogelweid and her younger brother got jobs working in a Chinese weaving factory.

After the war, Vogelweid worked for the US Army as a waitress and a switchboard operator. She then emigrated to the United States in 1946, after marrying Alfred Marion Gade, a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. They had one daughter, but the marriage ended soon after, and she later married Lloyd Vogelweid.

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