November 21, 2013
Shanghai’s Forgotten Jewish Past

SHANGHAI—When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Shanghai in May 2013 and hailed the city’s role as a “haven” for Jewish people fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s and 40s, his comments highlighted a part of the city’s history that many contemporary residents don’t know. Today, few would guess that this quintessentially Chinese city once played host to a bustling community of over 20,000 Jews.

While a Jewish community has existed in Shanghai since the late 19th century, the first large wave of immigrants came in the 1920s and 30s, as thousands of Russian Jews fled the Bolshevik Revolution for the more business-friendly foreign concessions in Shanghai. A decade later, the mainly Russian and Sephardic Jewish community was supplemented by tens of thousands of Ashkenazi Jews from Europe, who fled during the early stages of Nazi rule in Germany.

Before Nazi policy turned actively genocidal in the late 1930s, exile was seen as a perfectly acceptable solution to the “Jewish problem” and German and Austrian Jews, stripped of their citizenship rights, property, and employment, were encouraged to emigrate to any country that would have them. Unfortunately, there were few options for these would-be emigrants:  At the Évian Conference in 1938, the great powers collectively decided to shut their borders to all but a small selection of Jewish refugees.
Aside from the Dominican Republic, Shanghai was the only place that remained open to these refugees, and 20,000 or so European Jews found their way to the city in the late 1930s.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Shanghai’s Forgotten Jewish Past

SHANGHAI—When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Shanghai in May 2013 and hailed the city’s role as a “haven” for Jewish people fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s and 40s, his comments highlighted a part of the city’s history that many contemporary residents don’t know. Today, few would guess that this quintessentially Chinese city once played host to a bustling community of over 20,000 Jews.

While a Jewish community has existed in Shanghai since the late 19th century, the first large wave of immigrants came in the 1920s and 30s, as thousands of Russian Jews fled the Bolshevik Revolution for the more business-friendly foreign concessions in Shanghai. A decade later, the mainly Russian and Sephardic Jewish community was supplemented by tens of thousands of Ashkenazi Jews from Europe, who fled during the early stages of Nazi rule in Germany.

Before Nazi policy turned actively genocidal in the late 1930s, exile was seen as a perfectly acceptable solution to the “Jewish problem” and German and Austrian Jews, stripped of their citizenship rights, property, and employment, were encouraged to emigrate to any country that would have them. Unfortunately, there were few options for these would-be emigrants:  At the Évian Conference in 1938, the great powers collectively decided to shut their borders to all but a small selection of Jewish refugees.

Aside from the Dominican Republic, Shanghai was the only place that remained open to these refugees, and 20,000 or so European Jews found their way to the city in the late 1930s.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

  1. pokemole reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. bao4li3 reblogged this from theatlantic
  3. allmyotherthings reblogged this from foreverindresses
  4. boulangerin reblogged this from asianhistory
  5. forrefe reblogged this from asianhistory
  6. perpetualperseveration reblogged this from vinedragonheartstring
  7. vinedragonheartstring reblogged this from theatlantic
  8. memang-sesat reblogged this from asianhistory
  9. baeddelaire reblogged this from moo-ahyou
  10. moo-ahyou reblogged this from susurrations
  11. rfujinami reblogged this from asianhistory
  12. stupidforeigners reblogged this from susurrations
  13. yungteuthida reblogged this from asianhistory
  14. susurrations reblogged this from duckindolans
  15. fireandwonder reblogged this from asianhistory
  16. komikbookgeek reblogged this from asianhistory
  17. officialcharlemagne reblogged this from mrgulogulo
  18. cephalopod-demigod reblogged this from asianhistory
  19. pinkoscalawag reblogged this from blorgblorgblorg
  20. blorgblorgblorg reblogged this from grouchomarxism
  21. grouchomarxism reblogged this from jesus-lizard-journal
  22. kestrelsansjesses reblogged this from duckindolans and added:
    This is really interesting, thanks for linking!
  23. duckindolans reblogged this from glompcat
  24. glompcat reblogged this from asianhistory
  25. dawnof-lupercalia reblogged this from 70s-postmiserablisms
  26. 70s-postmiserablisms reblogged this from asianhistory