Rachel E. Meller: The Box with the Sunflower Clasp – the story of a Jewish family who escape Hitler by fleeing Vienna for the unlikely haven of Shanghai

Speaker: Rachel E. Meller

Rachel’s Aunt Lisbeth was always a reserved, uncommunicative woman, who never spoke about her childhood in Vienna, or her experiences in Shanghai. Lisbeth and her mother (Rachel’s grandmother) fled to the Chinese port in 1940, to join Rachel’s grandfather, who had escaped Austria the previous year. Decades later, Lisbeth unexpectedly bequeathed Rachel a box containing a collection of documents and photographs. In this talk, Rachel will discuss how she embarked on putting together the pieces of her silent aunt’s life, using the contents of the box together with her own research. She will also describe a little-known chapter of World War II history: the story of the 20,000 European Jews whose lives were saved from the Nazi threat by their flight to the challenging and complex destination of Japanese-run Shanghai.

After studying Neurobiology at Sussex and research at Cambridge, Rachel became a writer in a local communication consultancy. Her book The Box with the Sunflower Clasp came out in May 2023 and has been well reviewed in various publications.

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Event information


13 Dec 2023


2:15 pm


Zoom and Bridge St (booking required)