In search of Lagi survivors

May 19, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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A New Zealand author is seeking survivors or descendants of survivors who escaped the Holocaust through the Solf Tea Group… a cover to smuggle Jews out of Europe.

So’oa’emalelagi Solf’s first name means a gift from heaven.

Lagi

Lagi

She was born in Apia, Samoa and went through life known as Lagi.

She lived in Tokyo in the Weimar days her father William Solf was German ambassador to Japan  and also spent part of her life in Shanghai in the 30s.

New Zealand author Michael Field wrote Mau, first published in 1984 and  It was an account of Samoa’s independence movement and included a great deal on German Samoa and the role of Germans in Samoan life later.

I have known about and been intrigued for a couple of years by the tale of Lagi Solf daughter of the first German Governor of Samoa,

In 1938 she and her mother returned to Berlin following the death of William and as the war consumed Europe, this woman with the Samoan name, along with her mother, formed the Solf Tea Group. The group was a cover to smuggle Jews out of Berlin.

Michael-FieldThey were eventually caught by the Gestapo and put in Ravensbruck.

Michael Field explains: “They actually had something of a formal trial and were sentenced to death but by chance an American bombing raid killed the judge, and all the paperwork for execution.”

Lagi Solf died in the early 50s.

Field continued: “I’ve made contact in Frankfurt with the Solf family and they say the story has not been told in English other than a chapter in one book in the 70s.

But if I am to make a decent work of this unusual story, I want to find some kind of connections to the various people who the Solf Group must have got into Switzerland. There must be a few, but living here in New Zealand I’ve not established any.

It’s not that I disbelieve the claims at all, it’s just that even though she was German, the fact of a single extraordinary Samoan born woman doing these brave things I find inspiring – and would like to be able to tell it.

So if anybody can point me in the direction of more information – I would be really grateful.”

Anyone with information should email lagi@jwire.com.au

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