New beginnings

Lehrer, Shoshanna


From Japanese prison camps to Aliyah


Shoshanna (Suzanne) Lehrer’s journey through life has led her to many remote and often exotic places in the world. After the Nazis took her father from their home in Vienna, she and her mother flee to the Dutch East Indies. When the Japanese invade, they are incarcerated in three different Japanese prison camps. Though only nine, Shoshanna vividly recalls life in the camps, witnessing starvation, cruelty and death.

After liberation, Shoshanna and her mother find refuge in war-damaged Holland, where she is able to finish school, find work and meet her husband. Shoshanna and her two young children follow him to South America, where he is sent for work, and spend some years in Paraguay and Ecuador. Life there in the 1960s presents many difficulties for the family, but Shoshanna describes with great enthusiasm the many colourful adventures and experiences they shared. Back in Holland, their marriage ends. There are now four children. In 1982 Shoshanna and her two younger children make aliyah to Israel. Here Shoshanna finally feels at home, finds unknown family members and establishes the Tempo Dulu Foundation for Jews from Indonesia.

Throughout her journey, no matter how remote the location, Shoshanna manages to find a Jewish community and maintain her cultural heritage, which she now shares with a partner met in Israel and the families of her younger children. Shoshanna concludes, ‘Israel has made me a whole person again.’