How Shanghai saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, May 30, 2024

How Shanghai saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust
This photo taken on December 8, 2020 shows a man standing next to a statue of Ho Feng-Shan (also know as He Fengshan), a Chinese diplomat in Vienna who saved thousands of Jews by giving them Chinese visas between 1938 to 1940, in an exhibition hall at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum on the day the museum reopened to the public after an expansion project in Shanghai. January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. STR / AFP.

by Peter Stebbings

SHANGHAI (AFP).- As an infant Kurt Wick escaped almost certain death in a Nazi concentration camp by taking refuge in Shanghai, a little-known sanctuary for thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

Now 83, he has spent the last two decades spreading the word about how the Chinese city became an unlikely safe haven from Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution".

"They saved 20,000 Jews and if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be able to talk to you now," says Vienna-born Wick, who was taken by his parents on a ship from the port of Trieste for the long voyage east.

"I would have been one of the ashes in Auschwitz, like my other family."

Wednesday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

Six million Jews perished during the worst genocide in human history but Wick and six other members of his family were able to escape Europe for Shanghai because it was one of the very few destinations that did not require an entry visa.

"People should know about it because it was the only place in the world in 1939 that opened its gates," Wick said by telephone from his home in London.

"Even many Jews don't know about it."

Shanghai was a strange and faraway land for the European Jews, and would soon be completely occupied by an increasingly aggressive Imperial Japan.

They got support from a small but wealthy number of Jews who had been in the city since the 19th century and helped build a bustling community.

Historical accounts likened the atmosphere to a small town in Austria or Germany.

Life was nevertheless hard and after World War II ended in 1945, Shanghai's Jewish population declined sharply as they returned home or embarked on new lives elsewhere.

'Special relationship'
Chinese authorities are clearly eager for Shanghai's history as a safe harbour for Jews to get more exposure.

In 2007 the government-run Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum opened in Hongkou, a district that once contained the so-called "Shanghai Ghetto".

The site of a former synagogue, the museum reopened last month after a major expansion that tripled its size.

The centrepiece of the museum is a wall listing the names of thousands of Jews who temporarily made the city home in the 1930s and 1940s.

Much is made at the museum of how the Jews and Chinese, themselves suffering the ravages of war, helped one another get by during the Japanese occupation.

It also highlights how the Jews never faced any prejudice from the Chinese -- an assertion backed up by Wick.

But he is also keen to stress that the Japanese, although allied to Nazi Germany, were also not anti-Semitic and it was "mainly the Japanese" who allowed them refuge.

Chen Jian, the museum's curator, said there was a "special relationship" between Shanghai and the Jews which pre-dates the refugees and continues to this day.

"Although decades have passed and this period of history is a long time ago, some of the refugees and their descendants have maintained... the very deep friendship between us," he said.

Untold story
Rabbi Shalom Greenberg, co-director of the Shanghai Jewish Center, said the story of Jews finding shelter in Shanghai remained untold for decades and still receives little attention.

"The story that was told was about those who did not survive, about their terrible situation, the terrible thing that happened in Europe," said Greenberg.

"The story of the survivors, in general, was almost not told."

None of the refugees remain in Shanghai but there is still a small yet active Jewish community of about 2,000 people.

Prejudice of any kind against them is unheard of, says Greenberg, 49, at the century-old Ohel Rachel Synagogue.

"This is one of the very few places in the world that when you walk on the street and you hear two people behind you saying in the local language, 'This person is Jewish', you are not afraid." he said.

"This land never, never had anti-Semitism."

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

January 27, 2021

From Venice to Boca Raton for the 2021 U.S. premiere of Glasstress

Paris Pompidou Centre to close for four-year refit

Pompeii shows off treasures, sorcerer's magic charms

Swiss drop Russian oligarch's case against art dealer

Nile cruiser that inspired Agatha Christie sails on despite virus

Lady Mountbatten's family collection to be offered at Sotheby's

Art Museum of WVU is first stop for 'Walker Evans American Photographs'

Zeit Contemporary Art opens online exhibition 'Painting Abstraction: 197X - Today'

Frick announces new and upcoming volumes in Diptych series

How Shanghai saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust

An organ recital, with a coronavirus shot

Paula Cooper Gallery opens an exhibition by Sol LeWitt

Arkansas Arts Center becomes Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts

Moss Arts Center's newest exhibition reflects the Earth's beauty and vulnerability

Julia Stoschek Collection opens an exhibition of works by Jeremy Shaw

Swann to offer curated sale focused on the artists of the WPA

"Our Louisiana" now on view at Louisiana Art & Science Museum

Bonhams' first stand-alone Western Art sale in Los Angeles features important American works

Ketterer Kunst announces exhibition and auction: 100 Years of Joseph Beuys

Two gold specimens, Dragon's Lair and Ausrox Nugget, come to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science

Swedish playwright Lars Noren dead from Covid-19 at 76

Rome's Villa Borghese welcomes clone of 17th-century tree

Dancing for many cameras, in the round: 'It's Muybridge on steroids'

Paintings by Lois Dodd, Mercedes Carles Matter and Gillian Ayres sell for a combined $150,000

How coursework writing service is valuable for students


5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

6 Advantages of Choosing the Right Moving Company

The Usage And Importance Of Handyman Guide These Days

History of the loft design and tips for recreating it in your modern apartment

10 Ways Athletes can Benefit from CBD Oil

Combine Your Files Into One PDF Using Gogopdf!

Elegant Maurice Lacroix Aikon to Add to Your Collection

PDF File Format Over Word Format

GogoPDF: One Of The Most Manageable Online Converter Tool For PDF Files

How to handle Antique Art pieces?

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

sa gaming free credit
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful