Life

“Vienna Style” of Tilan Bridge

  Tilan Bridge is located in the southeast of Hongkou District, Shanghai. When mentioning “Tilanqiao”, the first thing people think of is Tilanqiao Prison. In the spoken language of Shanghainese, “Tilan Bridge” is synonymous with prison. Tilanqiao Prison is known as “the first prison in the Far East” and “the Bastille in the East”. However, from the first batch of Jewish refugees to Shanghai in 1933, until they left around 1949, the Tilanqiao area in Hongkou, Shanghai became the main settlement of Jewish refugees, and created a different kind of “Vienna style” here.
  Jewish Refugees Arrive in Shanghai
  Long before European Jewish refugees arrived in Shanghai, there were two groups of Jews who came to live in Shanghai. In the middle of the 19th century, Sephardic Jews began to come to Shanghai to do business from Baghdad, Mumbai and Hong Kong under British rule. They were the first Jews to come to Shanghai. Among them came some famous families, such as the Sassoon family, the Hartung family and the Kadoorie family.
  Another group of Jewish immigrants were the Ashkenazi Jews, mainly Russian Jews, who fled the persecution of the Russian tsar and domestic turmoil. They first immigrated to Northeast my country via Siberia and lived in Harbin, Shenyang and other cities. From the end of 1920, due to the change of the management of the Middle East Railway, the Japanese occupation and other reasons, the social and economic life of Harbin and even the entire northeast Jewish community suffered a series of shocks, and a large number of Jews went south to Tianjin and Shanghai.
  The Jewish refugees came to Shanghai, as described in the movie “Schindler’s List”. In 1933, Hitler implemented anti-Semitism and extermination policies in the areas ruled by the Nazis. A large number of European Jews were forced to leave their homes and go to various parts of the world. Seek shelter. At that time, due to its special geographical and political conditions, Shanghai was the only city in the world that did not require entry visas and property guarantees. Therefore, Jews from Central Europe took refuge in Shanghai. The Chinese government at that time also extended a helping hand. Sun Ke once proposed the “Jewish Quarter” resettlement plan, and Dr. He Fengshan, the Consul General in Vienna, Austria, risked his life to apply for “life visas” for Jewish refugees.
  In 1938 and 1939, newspapers published news every month that Jews came to Shanghai in batches. In the past few years, the cumulative number was about 18,000, and most of them were resettled in Hongkou. In August 1939, the Japanese authorities in Hongkou reached an agreement with the Bureau of the Ministry of Industry and the Bureau of Antiques to formulate the “conditions” for Jewish refugees to enter Shanghai, and stipulated that refugees who had already lived in Hongkou had to register with the authorities before August 22, and the refugee flow was thus blocked. . After June 1941, only a small number of Jewish refugees who were already on the way were settled in Hongkou.
  Jewish Refugees’ Initial Impressions of Shanghai
  For many Jewish refugees, before they actually set foot on this land, the term “Shanghai” represented only a vague concept, a distant and strange foreign land. Just like their almost blank understanding of China, Shanghai did not form any complete image in the minds of the Jews.
  Many Jews would not go to Shanghai if they had a choice, preferring to go to neighboring European countries, or the United States. But the cruel reality shattered their dreams. After the “Crystal Night” in 1938, a large number of Jewish refugees who fled from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and other countries arrived in Japan, but were refused transfers to the United States and Canada, so they were forced to transfer to Shanghai.
  To most people’s shock, Shanghai was already a fairly cosmopolitan metropolis at the time. When the first ship full of more than 1,000 Jewish refugees was moored at the pier in 1933, the Shanghai Bund was the first impression of most Jewish refugees and gave them the most direct visual impact. At that time, the Shanghai Tower, the Peace Hotel, the HSBC Bank and other high-rise buildings financed by their wealthy Jewish compatriots had already stood in front of us. The office building is no less than the most luxurious building they can see in their hometown. No matter which building, even if it is moved to the most gorgeous street in Manhattan, it will not be inferior in the slightest.
  The majestic buildings on the Bund gave these Jewish refugees an unexpected visual impact, but then they also saw a sharp conflict with their own eyes: behind the tall buildings are shantytowns, the clean and tidy streets of Nanjing Road and the dirty and crowded Guangdong Road The streets of the city are only one street apart, but they completely represent two different worlds – rich and poor. In addition, the ordinary life of most Shanghai citizens: poverty, overcrowding and safety also shocked them a lot.
  Jewish refugees created Shanghai’s “Little Vienna”.
  Early Sephardic Jews were mainly concentrated near the Bund in the British Concession at that time. From around the 1920s, with the successful business of the Sephardic Jews and the emigration of a large number of Ashkenazi Jews to Shanghai, the Sephardic Jews gradually moved from Hongkou and other places to public institutions centered on the Seymour Road La Hill Synagogue. The west area of ​​the Concession and the West Area of ​​the French Concession, as well as high-end residential areas along the Joffre Road in the French Concession live together. After a large number of Russian Jews entered Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, due to the influence of French culture, most of them chose to live in the area of ​​Joffre Road (now Huaihai Middle Road) in the French Concession.
  About a hundred European Jews arrived in Shanghai in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Most of the Jews who came to Shanghai at this stage were intellectuals with certain professional skills, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and entrepreneurs. Level, generally living in the concession.
  The Jewish refugees who later arrived in Shanghai were arranged by the Shanghai Jewish Relief Organization and mainly lived in several relatively concentrated areas, such as Hebin Building, Jingzhou Road, Zhoushan Road, Anguo Road and Lane 818 of Tangshan Road. Zhoushan Road was the most important living and leisure place for Jewish refugees at that time, and it was also one of the most prosperous streets in Tilanqiao.
  In 1938, Kadoorie, a wealthy Jewish businessman, organized the Committee to Aid European Jewish Refugees to Shanghai and launched a fundraising campaign. The Sassoon family gave up the Hebin Building in Hebei, Suzhou, as a temporary refugee shelter. The Shanghai branch of the American-Jewish Joint Relief Committee (JDC) is located at No. 119 and No. 121 Huoshan Road. It is a “Queen Anne-style” double-fronted three-story building. When a large number of Jewish refugees entered Shanghai, the committee became the most important international organization to support refugees. In addition to the financial assistance provided by the Jewish giants Hartung and Kadoorie at that time, JDC was the most important source of funds to support the Jews. After receiving relief funds from home and abroad, the Jewish Refugee Rescue Organization established seven refugee centers successively, forming a unique community style.
  In 1940, in order to revitalize the Hongkou District that was destroyed by the war, the Bureau of the Ministry of Industry stipulated that as long as the Jews were willing to spend money to repair the devastated shops or houses, they could get loans. For a period of time after that, the industrious Jews built houses one after another and opened their doors to welcome guests. Around 1940, a dozen streets in the Tilanqiao area experienced short-term prosperity. The Jews regularly hold various concerts, have a fixed symphony orchestra, and often perform plays. Young people also set up their own football clubs and even a boxing team. “In stark contrast to the miserable situation of European Jews, the Jewish refugees in Shanghai created a short-lived prosperity, opening German-style bakeries, Austrian-style cafes, and a section of it called ‘Little Vienna’ After the “August 13th Incident”, the ruined Tilanqiao area has seen prosperity and revival under the management of Jewish refugees. Tangshan Road, Gongping Road, Xihuade Road, Huishan Road and other blocks were rebuilt, Zhoushan Road became a commercial center, and many houses with Central European style appeared. There are open-air cafes, bakeries, bars, and western restaurants in the street market. The rich atmosphere of life in Central Europe has given many Jewish refugees the warmth and feeling of their hometown.

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