This Day in History: Shanghai Jews Fleeing Nazi Persecution

By Ned Kelly, August 20, 2021

0 0

On this date, August 21, 1941, the Japanese government finally closed Shanghai to further Jewish immigration.

Previous to this, the city had proved the exception to Zionist leader, and future first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann’s 1936 observation that, “The world seemed to be divided into two parts — those places where the Jews could not live, and those where they could not enter.”

Shanghai was the only port in the world that would accept Jews fleeing persecution without an entry visa.

Jewish Refugees in a Shanghai Government Office

The first German Jewish refugees had arrived in Shanghai as early as November 1933, the Nazis having consolidated power in Germany at the beginning of that year. During the height of the refugee flight to Shanghai between November 1938 and June 1941, the total number of arrivals by sea and land has been estimated around 20,000.

Shanghai Herald: "Residences, Businesses of City's Stateless Refugees Limited to Restricted Sector."

While the Japanese ignored the German wish to hand over the Jews of Shanghai, under pressure from their ally, they were moved into a restricted Ghetto about one square mile in size in Hongkou, where hunger and infectious diseases became rife.

Seward Rd in the Ghetto in 1943

The Ghetto was officially liberated on September 3, 1945. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the fall of Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT in 1949, almost all the Shanghai Ghetto Jews left. Only 100 were said to be remaining by 1957.

READ MORE: Dvir Bar-Gal on 20 Years of Shanghai Jewish Tours

For more on the history of Jews in Shanghai, including fascinating walking tours from Dvir Bar-Gal, visit www.shanghai-jews.com.

Find information on award winning documentary Shanghai Ghetto here.


For more This Day in History stories, click here.

[Cover image via Imigração Histórica]

more news

This Day in History: British Handover Hong Kong to China

On July 1, 1997, China resumed its control of Hong Kong after 156 years of British rule.

This Day in History: Henry Kissinger Secretly Visits China

Half a century ago, then-US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger flew to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials.

This Day in History: China Develops the Hydrogen Bomb

June 1967 sees China become the world's fourth thermonuclear power.

This Day in History: Zhu Jianhua Sets High Jump World Record

On June 11, 1983 Shanghai-born high jumper Zhu Jianhua cleared 2.37m at a meet in Beijing, setting a new world record.

This Day in History: Mukden Tiger Warlord Assassinated by Japan

On June 4, 1928, a train carrying warlord Zhang Zuolin from Beijing to Shenyang was ripped apart by a huge explosion.

This Day in History: When Muhammad Ali Came to China

Praying in the Great Mosque of Xi'an and sparring with a Brawl on the Bund referee: a look back on the 1985 visit of The Greatest to the Middle Kingdom

This Day in History: Deadly Sichuan Earthquake of 2008

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the deadly Sichuan Earthquake, a catastrophic event that rocked China and claimed over 80,000 lives.

This Day in History: US Passes Chinese Exclusion Act

The act effectively ended Chinese immigration to the US for 60 years.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives