I am doing personal research on my fatherís trek from Europe during World War II through Russia, Japan, Shanghai China to the Philippines before finally arriving in America in 1946. Initially, as a student in Poland he fled from the Nazis from Mir Poland, to Kovno. He traveled to Moscow Russia where they took the Trans-Siberian route to the Far East to Kobe Japan. From there he left to Shanghai China .

My father, Samuel Chaim Soroka, obtained a visa to come to America in November 21, 1941. With this visa obtained from the embassy in Shanghai, China he sailed to America. However, this voyage to America was interrupted for 4 years. He arrived in Manila in December 7, 1941.

He was stranded in Manila when the war broke out. Soon afterwards he was incarcerated by the Japanese at the main internment camp Santo Tomas in Manila. Several months later he was transferred to a new camp farther southeast in Luzon at Los Banos with more than 2,000 American and British. He was not released until after the American forces on February 23, 1945 liberated the camp in that dramatic rescue.

 

 

His original visa was declared invalid since it expired and the US did not accept the reason that he was in a POW camp and hence unable to continue his journey.

 

Interestingly, he was on a ship to the US soon afterwards but was pulled off since he did not have a current visa. On February 4, 1946 my father ultimately entered the United States.

I was at the National Archives several years ago and found some testimony that my father gave to the American authorities investigating war crimes by the Japanese. Evidently, there was one American who left the campto find and barter for food and on his return to the camp was shot by a sentry.The Japanese refused to allow him in and the commandant shot him dead. My father who was in the barracks nearby gave testimony on this incident.

 

 

I have several questions which I hope you can help me with or direct me to a source that may have the answers

 

 

1. Iíd like to know ifany of the remaining survivirs from Los Banos had any interaction or recollection of him.

2. He was an orthodox Jew who due to his strict adherence to religious and dietary laws may have been one of those individuals that you may have had some recollection. Might you have any information on the few Jews that were at Santo Tomas and Los Banos?

 

 

3. Does anyone have a recollection of the Coast Guard or other authorities taking him and perhaps others off a ship(it may have been the Eberle but I'm unsure).

Unfortunately my father died more than 20 years ago. During my father's lifetime he spoke little of those years and when we should have inquired more so, we didn't.

In any case, I'd like to know whether you have any information or insights where I might search for more information.

Please contact:

 

Dr. Mort Soroka

SUNY College of Optometry

33 West 42 Street NY NY 10036

Tel. 212 938 4174

msoroka@sunyopt.edu

 

 

A Group of Jewish Refugee Yeshiva Students in Shanghai

Samuel Chaim Soroka center back row wearing a hat.