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Shanghai Ghetto

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

One of the most amazing and captivating survival tales of WWII, the overwhelmingly acclaimed SHANGHAI GHETTO has been declared "a don’t miss documentary...powerful...eye-opening" (New York Observer). Stirringly narrated by Academy Award winner Martin Landau (Ed Wood, The Majestic), SHANGHAI GHETTO recalls the strange-but-true story of thousands of European Jews who were shut out of country after country while trying to escape Nazi persecution in the late 1930s. Left without options or entrance visas, a beacon of hope materialized for them on the other side of the world, and in the unlikeliest of places, Japanese-controlled Shanghai. Fleeing for their lives, these Jewish refugees journeyed to form a settlement in the exotic city, penniless and unprepared for their new life in the Far East. At the turn of the new millennium, filmmakers Dana Janklowicz-Mann and Amire Mann boldly snuck into China with two survivors and a digital camera to shoot at the site of the original Shanghai Ghetto, unchanged since WWII. Their never-before-seen recordings--along with interviews of survivors and historians, rare letters, stock footage, still photos, and an orignal score by Sujin Nam and Chinese Erhu performer Karen Han (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)--depicts an incredibly moving portrayal of a rich cultural life, bravely constructed under enormous hardship. DVD Features: Filmmaker Commentary; Deleted Interviews; Hebrew/English Subtitles; Theatrical Trailer; Filmmaker Biographies; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Special Features

  • Deleted interviews
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Filmmaker biographies
  • Resources

Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Chang, Irene Eber, I. Betty Grebenschikoff, Harold Janklowicz, Alfred Kohn
  • Directors: Amir Mann, Dana Janklowicz-Mann
  • Producers: Amir Mann, Dana Janklowicz-Mann
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2005
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Q93A6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,047 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shanghai Ghetto" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 6, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a fascinating documentary that takes a fresh look at the holocaust. In the mid to late nineteen thirties, Jews were allowed to leave Germany, provided that they could get a country to take them in. Therein lay the rub. Many Jews were willing to leave Germany at the time but could find no country that would open its doors to them. Then, some of them discovered that China was an option. It seemed that Shanghai would accept Jewish refugees, and eventually about twenty thousand desperate refugees decided that going to Shanghai would be a more viable option to staying in Germany and German occupied lands, where life for the Jewish population was becoming a slow descent into hell.

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.
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Format: DVD
A couple of years before World War II, Europe and the United States turned their back on millions Jews in Europe that tried to escape an increasing persecution. Nations closed their borders after a political meeting between several nations with Germany in the center that led nowhere. Hitler used the result of the meeting as an invitation to increase the intensity of the Jewish persecution. Some Jews were fortunate enough to escape to neighboring countries while many were escorted back to the German border and handed to the Gestapo. However, far away on the other side of the world some fortunate Jews that had the financial means to escape found a loophole - Shanghai.

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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an OK production of a fascinating subject.

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.
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