Sunday, January 18, 2009

Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WW2

I have been asked and am pleased to post the following article on behalf of Catherine L.

Few people are aware that up to 20,000 Jewish refugees, from Germany and Austria mainly, were able to find a refuge in Shanghai, China. No visa was required to get there as late as 1939, when most, if not all, the countries in the world were closing their doors to them.

It was called 'the Port of Last Resort'.

Many survived, if in very uncomfortable conditions, as they were helped by Jewish charities run by the families who had settled in Shanghai long before the war, like the Sassoons, or the Kadooris.

They developed a whole cultural life among themselves, opened schools and ran newspapers; life had to go on... The Chinese themselves never showed any hostility towards them, on the contrary. When the war was over the refugees were able to emigrate to The USA, Australia, Canada... a few returned to Europe, some to England,having sometimes spent up to eight years in China.

The area of the old ghetto, called Hongkew, where they huddled up all those years in terrible sanitary conditions, is now considered prime real estate location....



Anonymous marion cuba said...

I found this little-known chapter of WWII fascinating. Doing years of research, including interviews with survivors, I wrote a historical novel, SHANGHAI LEGACY, which chronicles that time, 1938-45, in Shanghai. The fictional story touches on the generational clash betweem a mother (the refugee) and her American-born daughter. This might of interest to those seeking a fleshing out of that period. Also, the documentary, "Shanghai Ghetto," is a valuable resource.
Marion Cuba
author, Shanghai Legacy

Sunday, 18 January, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be very interested in reading Shanghai Legacy, is it still available? Thank you for your comment, Marion Cuba.
A French journalist and author, Michele Kahn, wrote a novel called SHANGHAI LA JUIVE - not yet translated into English, unfortunately, but available in German and Dutch!
It is a wonderfully documented piece of writing.
There are many documentaries available on the topic, also.
What struck me most about the period was the extraordinary resilience of the refugees, and the way they bounced up again after the war.
There was amazing solidarity, the doctors treated everyone including the Chinese for almost nothing,
and the younger ones who were there without their parents were helped by the community.
If anyone knows of survivors in Britain, I would be interested in making contact.
Catherine L.

Sunday, 18 January, 2009  
Blogger Peter G said...

On Sunday, 18 January Anonymous began a Comment in this thread with:

"It shows the long-standing friendship between the Jews/Israelis and Chinese esp during the war. Both the Jews and Chinese share many common values and have contributed positively to the well being of mankind ... "

The Comment then continued with inflammatory language which is not acceptable to this Blog.

Anonymous is welcome to contribute; but please read the Blog Rules and Guidance first.

Monday, 19 January, 2009  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


Many thanks for your comment and action with which I totally concur.

I too saw the same article and felt that although the writer had made some valid points his use of derogatory language did not help his case and could very well lead to a "slanging match" such as we see on other less well run websites.


Monday, 19 January, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This goes to show how tense the current world situation is.
The whole point of this blog, as I see it, is to remember what decent people went through to fight against extremism, racism and hatred; to honour their memory, and not to initiate new conflicts. I was shocked too.
Thanks Peter and Ron for being on the lookout.

Catherine L.

Monday, 19 January, 2009  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

I fully agree with the principle about what you say about 'Anonymous', Peter. If people have a reasonable view to put about a particular issue the case can be put without using derogarory language. nottle

Monday, 19 January, 2009  
Blogger fiction writer said...

To answer Anonymous--yes, my historical historical novel, SHANGHAI LEGACY, is still available, from,, my website,, or on order from your local bookstore.

Marion Cuba

Monday, 19 January, 2009  
Anonymous Audrey Friedman Marcus said...

I'm really delighted to find these comments on Jews in Shanghai. I've read Marion Cuba's excellent book, along with just about everything else written on the subject in preparation for the publication by Pacific View Press of my book SURVIVAL IN SHANGHAI: THE JOURNALS OF FRED MARCUS 1939-49. My co-author and I used as the basis for the book excerpts from diaries my late husband Fred wrote as a teenager/young man in Shanghai, adding commentary and background material to provide a context and enrich the diary entries. Anyone interested can purchase the book from me at or at any of the online bookstores.

Tuesday, 23 February, 2010  
Blogger Peter G said...


Many thanks for your comment and information, and good luck with your book; may it be widely read. I checked at Amazon and your book is available here. I was pleased to see that Deborah Lipstadt has written the Preface. I have a signed copy of her excellent book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory

... and for other members, this link will take you direct to the Fred Marcus website.

Tuesday, 23 February, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the info guys im doing a paper on WW2 refugees and this helped alot!!! ( 500 point project)

Friday, 23 April, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks guys i am doing a 500 point WW2 essay on refugees and this helped alot

Friday, 23 April, 2010  
Blogger Catherine L said...

Happy to read this, because sharing is what we all want!
Good luck with your essay!

Thursday, 17 June, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading a documentary paperback dealing with Japanese Purple Code and other related intel info. and on one page it revealed a schism between Japan and Germany during the ww2.This was regarding the Japanese refusal of turning in their tiny Jewish enclave in Shanghai.Fear not, the Japanese did not refuse on humanitarian grounds,it was a sovereqnity issue and and their way of telling the Germans to mind their bussiness.I worked in a kosher house as a shlepper and showed the article to the everpresent Rebbe who was briefly perplexed but happy with the outcome

Monday, 16 June, 2014  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home