Survivor mourned at 102
Before the Communists swept across China in 1949, Lotti and Josef left for Australia. Lotti took part in the family's fashion business Delphine for over 20 years
A LIFE of trials and tribulations – and some amazing triumphs – has concluded for Lotti (Liebe) Tugendhaft, who passed away shortly before her 103rd birthday.
The Melbourne centenarian, a resident at Emmy Monash Gandel House, passed away on May 8. She was due to celebrate her birthday on June 5.
Her son Ashley told The AJN this week, “She lived life to the fullest, always trying to help others of all ages with her kind words and good deeds. She will be sadly missed by her loving family of five generations and her many good friends, young and old.”
A mother of three, grandmother of eight, great-grandmother of 21 and great-great-grandmother of four, Ashley described her as “an inspiration … until recently doing gym, dancing, zumba, playing tennis, attending lessons, even independently travelling on public transport”.
Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1920, Lotti and her late husband Josef were rounded up by the Nazis in October 1938 and given 10 minutes to pack a small bag, before being exiled to the German-Polish border city of Sbaszyn. After many narrow escapes, they eventually reached the safe haven of Shanghai in 1940.
The Tugendhafts made their home in Shanghai’s International Settlement district, founding a successful business. Josef was assistant to Chief Rabbi of Shanghai, Rabbi Meir Ashkenazi, and helped him negotiate the transfer to Shanghai of Mirer and Kletzker yeshivah students who had fled Europe across the Russian steppes to Japan.
In 1943, the Tugendhafts, with other Jewish refugees classified as “stateless”, were interned by the Japanese in the squalid Shanghai district of Hongkou; their exits and re-entries monitored by tyrannical Japanese official Kanoh Ghoya, who verbally and physically assaulted Jews.
Before the Communists swept across China in 1949, Lotti and Josef left for Australia. Lotti took part in the family’s fashion business Delphine for over 20 years and had an active communal life. Their home was frequently open to visitors from Kew Shule, where Josef became president and Lotti worked in the ladies’ auxiliary.
In 1977, the Tugendhafts joined Mizrachi Synagogue, where Lotti eventually became the oldest congregant.
On her 100th birthday in 2020, Lotti’s sons Ashley and Leon and their families joined her for a small celebration at Emmy Monash, held under COVID-19 lockdown rules. But her daughter Rosie Bick of Israel had to cancel plans to visit, due to the pandemic.
Lotti’s sister, the late Itta Schachna, had celebrated her 99th birthday on the same day, and lived to 100. A third sister, Hella Burnett, lived to 96.