Ten Green Bottles: Vienna to Shanghai-Journey of Fear and Hope


286 pages
ISBN 1-896941-31-1
DDC 951'.132042'0922





Reviewed by Geoffrey Harder

Geoffrey Harder is a public services librarian and manager, Knowledge Common, in the Science and Technology Library of the University of Alberta.


Much has been written about the Holocaust, although firsthand accounts
and stories passed on through the families of survivors are often the
most instructive of these narratives. Ten Green Bottles tells the true
story of Nini Karpel, a young Jewish girl growing up in an increasingly
anti-Semitic Austria during World War II. The Karpel family, having lost
their family business and virtually all that they own, are helped by an
understanding stranger and given safe passage to China. At the time of
the Holocaust, Shanghai was one of very few places offering immediate
sanctuary to Jewish refugees. Shanghai required neither visas nor other
documentation, and imposed very few restrictions on the number of those
who could find asylum within its borders. The majority of those who fled
knew little about what was in store for them. The exotic city of
Shanghai greeted Jewish refugees with a myriad of new challenges and
obstacles to overcome.

Kaplan narrates the story through the eyes of her mother, Nini Karpel,
a technique she describes as “a memoir in the creative non-fiction
genre.” One can only imagine how poignant the process of writing must
have been for the author as she recounts the many life-changing events
that her mother and family endured in their struggle to achieve their
freedom and well-being. As a first-time author, Kaplan does a remarkable
job of conveying to her audience the abysmal atmosphere of the Holocaust
period. Readers of this book will undoubtedly be drawn into the story
through the first-person narrative.

Ten Green Bottles presents a unique perspective on a rarely told story
of Jewish refuge in Shanghai during World War II. It is a compelling
read, and will no doubt prove successful in capturing the hearts of
those who come to know this tragic but inspiring tale of survival.


Kaplan, Vivian Jeanette., “Ten Green Bottles: Vienna to Shanghai-Journey of Fear and Hope,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9425.