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Traveling by ocean liner, the refugees would disembark in Shanghai, where part of the city was segregated into an international settlement, filled with western foreigners. By the time that the Jewish refugees began arriving, the Japanese occupied that part of Shanghai that included the international settlement, although the Japanese had a hands off policy with respect to the international settlement. So, even though Japan was one of the Axis powers, which included Germany, the Jewish refugees were allowed to settle in Shanghai without incident. Moreover, the Japanese, having criticized the treatment of Asians by Germans, were now constrained to treat the Jewish refugees well in order to be consistent.
In fact, there were already two distinct Jewish groups ensconced and well established in Shanghai, the Baghdadi Jews, who were business people and the wealthier of these two groups, and the Russian Jews. Each had their own communities in the international settlement.Read more ›
Japan and China had been in war, which led to the occupation of Shanghai. The Japanese forces were not checking passports, as people arrived to Shanghai by ships. The Chinese government had been abandoned, as was the passport control. Thus, Jews could leave Germany, even though their passports had been restricted or revoked, to peacefully enter Shanghai. A pleasurable four-week voyage through the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean led the escaping Jews to their destination, Shanghai.
Arrivals were initially shocked by the environment to which they arrived. This culture crash had its foundation in several new experiences such as the extreme humidity, high temperature, different written and spoken language, and new food among many other things. Yet, the 20,000 Jews that arrived found a way to cope in the new society. This is much thanks to the British Jews that had lived in Shanghai since the beginning of the century who had acquired much wealth. In the years before World War II and in the beginning of the war the newcomers basically founded their own miniature society within Shanghai.Read more ›
The information is good. They interview Prof. David Kranzler, the expert in the field, as well as other knowledgeable professors. These are interwoven with interviews of a handful of actual survivors. These, too, are enlightening, real and touch the heart.
The timeline follows these survivors, who all escaped Germany in 1938. It relates their early memories of life in Germany, Kristallnacht, their troubles getting out, their travel to Shanghai, their attempts to making a living and establish themselves there, the effects of Japan's entry into the war in 1941 and their consequent move into the unsanitary, overcrowded poor section of the city known as Hongkew, their difficulties fending off disease, starvation and anti-Semitism (not from the Chinese so much as the Japanese and non-Jewish ethnicities like Russians), the Allied bombing in July 1945, their liberation and discovery of the horrors of the Holocaust in Germany which they, only in retrospect, learned of and learned how lucky they were to have avoided.
It's a compelling story, a case of truth being stranger than fiction.
However, they missed at least one major part of the story. There were more than 2,000 refugees (many of whom had been teachers and students in one of Jewry's most prestigious educational institutions, the Mirrer Yeshiva) that arrived in Shanghai in 1941 who escaped Nazi Germany and then Soviet-controlled Lithuania, who then obtained visas miraculously, traveled on the Trans-Siberian railroad before landing in Japan and then being deported, at the start of the hostilities with the US, to Shanghai. This group was not German. Their experiences before and even during the war (they reestablished their Yeshiva there) were very different.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"whosoever saves a single life = shall be considered to have saved an entire world" the intrinsic essence of this immortal statement was most-certainly exemplified by... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Book & Music thief, from HI
Very little is known about this subject, my family happened to have lived this, and the author really did excellent research.Published 5 months ago by Demeestere
Excellent overview of a little known part of contemporary Jewish history. The first-hand accounts in particular were eye-opening.Published 18 months ago by Helene Herman
I haven't read yet but I believe wonderful book that's where my late father involved as memories.Published 20 months ago by Ms Susan H. Shannon
Purchased this video for a friend who, as a child, fled the Nazis with her family and went to Shanghai..... Read morePublished 21 months ago by :Lydia
The translations are really funny. There are some great anecdotes in the translations that come with the book. This is more than just a dictionary. It's a book of humor.Published on November 23, 2013 by charna
My parents were in Shanghai from 1941 to the end of 1946. They told me bits, but not a great deal. And I wasn't very interested anyway. Read morePublished on September 8, 2013 by Amazon Customer