How the Philippines saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust

Story highlights

  • Philippines welcomed Jewish refugees during Holocaust while other countries closed doors
  • About 1,200 European Jews moved there before 1941
  • While they escaped the Holocaust, they were confronted with the Asian front of the war as Japan invaded

(CNN)Even at the age of 7, Lotte Hershfield knew her world was crumbling.

She avoided the benches with the sign: No dogs or Jews allowed. She couldn't attend public schools. And the Nazis and their growling German shepherds raided her family's house, throwing their books into a fire.
As a child, "we were very aware," said Hershfield, now 84. Jews weren't welcome in their own home.
    Growing increasingly fearful, her parents and her older brother left their hometown of Breslau, Germany, in 1938 and journeyed to an unlikely new home -- the Philippines.
    About 1,200 European Jews fled to the Philippines from 1937 to 1941, escaping the throes of the Nazis only to face another bloody war under Japanese occupation.