Background Video

Experience the flight of the Kolber family from Hitler's Nazi regime as they travel by both land and sea from Vienna to Shanghai

Learn More

Expert Testimonials

-Recipient of "Reviewers Choice" award by Midwest Book Review

-Read reviews by the San Francisco Review of Books, Archway Publishing, and historical writers

Learn More


Watch authors, George Kolber and Charles Kolber, speak about the book on television shows and radio broadcasts

Learn More

Reader Reviews

-Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars on

-Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars on


Learn More


Read news coverage on:

-the Chhange (Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education)-sponsored book launch

-the Kolber brothers' first meeting with their fourth brother after close to 30 years of separation on opposite sides of the world


Learn More

Book Summary

"Reared as we are, in quiet and peace,
Now all at once we’re thrown upon the world"
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


It is 1938 when the Kolbers, affluent Viennese Jews, flee their country for Shanghai after its annexation by the Nazis. Eva and her daughter take the Trans-Siberian Railroad through war zones where they must confront border guards and Japanese imprisonment. Meanwhile, her husband, Josef, and their twin sons travel by ocean liner, hiding valuables in crates.

Similarly in China, the politically powerful Gan Chen family finds their lives upended by Japanese invaders. Forced to abandon their estate, the family seeks refuge in Shanghai. While the families adapt to their new lifestyles during the war, their children meet. Walter Kolber is a handsome violinist; Chao Chen is a gifted pianist.

After a forbidden romance blossoms, Chao Chen discovers she is pregnant. Without familial blessings, the lovers marry in December 1946 and head with their newborn to a refugee camp in Austria. As Chao Chen grapples with language and cultural barriers, the family is met with turmoil and tragedy. Now only time will tell if they will survive their troubles to start a new life in the United States.

A remarkable true story, Thrown upon the World tells the tale of two families brought together during World War II in Shanghai and the twist of fate that split them apart.