SINGAPORE – A book on the history of a prominent Singaporean Eurasian family, the Hochstadts, is now on sale at bookstores here – for a good cause.
Proceeds from the sale of The Clan … At Large will go to the Hochstadt Bursary Endowment Fund, which benefits needy students enrolled in any degree program at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The book is available for $ 48.
The fund was created by Mr. Herman Hochstadt, a former NUS student who was permanent secretary to several ministries, including education and law, in the 1970s and 1980s. He is 88 this year.
Another prominent member of the family was the late Mr. John Hochstadt, who founded the Singapore Casket Company.
But the authors of the book say they tried to focus on the ordinary, very Singaporean life of an often overlooked ethnic minority here.
Dr Kevin Tan, the law professor who edited the book, said: âPeople in Singapore tend to forget how integrated Eurasians are into Singaporean life – this book gives a slice of Eurasian family life. which is often invisible.
The book chronicles the life of the first four generations of the Hochstadt family, as well as their relatives, in Singapore. It contains around 30 life stories, told in vignettes, researched by family members and Dr. Tan.
It also contains numerous photographs and documents illustrating family life in Singapore from colonial times to the present day.
There is also an illustrated section with many homemade Eurasian recipes, for dishes like debal and achar curry. Mr Herman Hochstadt’s daughter, former literature professor Karen Hochstadt, said some Eurasians might find it difficult to share them outside the family.
âThe book was a labor of love, inspired by my father’s own memoirs who, according to my Aunt Joan, Herman’s sister, didn’t have enough families,â she said.
Mr. Herman Hochstadt had published a book last year entitled Lives & Times Of Hrh, detailing his life and work in the Singapore public service.
Ms Hochstadt is the great-great-granddaughter of Mr Phillip Peter Hochstadt, who arrived in Singapore from Bavaria, Germany, circa 1881.
Dr Tan, who has also written biographies of public figures such as Singapore’s Chief Prime Minister David Marshall, said family histories hold an important place in the country’s history.
âThe stories about Singapore are not just about notables and great people – behind them are many more who have contributed in one way or another,â he said. “It’s very important to understand that history isn’t just about big names – smaller stories like this help us understand how Singapore turned out.”
Ms Hochstadt said she hopes the book inspires other families to delve into their own history – whatever they find.
âWe want to encourage our fellow Singaporeans to record because I think if we don’t, we lose a lot when the older generation leaves. We are not only losing family history, but also a lot of connection to the past, a lot of wisdom and a better understanding of what makes us the people we are today, âshe said. .
She added that it’s important not to whitewash the story and that the book doesn’t gloss over the more difficult parts of their family history, like the erratic and even violent behavior of one of her great-uncle, which led his own mother to take him to court.
âWhen you dig and dig and dig, you find skeletons, but you also find gems,â she says. âIt also helps with healing. In every family there are things that need to be healed and doing this book has helped me and other members of our family with that.