Shanghai’s Noah’s Ark: How China Saved 25,000 Jews During the Holocaust

   On October 15, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying posted in English and Arabic on social platforms that Shanghai had provided asylum to 20,000 Jewish refugees and that the tragedies of the past should not happen to anyone today.
   In the 1930s, most countries and cities in the world imposed entry restrictions on Jews who wanted to escape the violent persecution of Nazi Germany, and Shanghai was one of the few places in the world that accepted Jews who fled the Nazis.
  25,000 Jews took refuge in Shanghai
   As we all know, after Hitler came to power, starting with the “Night of Crystal Glass”, the Nazis began an organized large-scale bloody massacre of Jews, and many countries also began large-scale anti-Semitic campaigns. At the same time, most countries and cities around the world imposed entry restrictions on Jews who wanted to escape violent persecution in Nazi Germany. At this time, Shanghai opened its arms to the Jews, and the “Shanghai Ghetto” was also called “Noah’s Ark” in the disaster by the Jews.
   Although Shanghai is more than 7,000 kilometers away from the Jewish homes in Germany, Poland and Austria, between 1933 and 1941, a large number of stateless Jews fled to Shanghai, China’s largest city, to escape the Holocaust. According to relevant statistics, during the entire World War II, there were as many as 25,000 famous Jews who were exiled to Shanghai. This number exceeded the total number of Jewish refugees hosted by Canada, Australia, Singapore, India and South Africa at that time.
   However, there are still some questions behind this astonishing number that are difficult to explain. Because the World War II war was raging all over the world at that time, including China, why did these Jewish refugees who had nowhere to go still yearn for Shanghai and could do so without any problem? What about barrier-free access?
   On August 13, 1937, the Songhu Anti-Japanese War broke out. Three months later, except for the concession areas, the entire Shanghai fell into the hands of the Japanese invaders. At this time, Nanjing had not yet fallen, and Wang Jingwei’s puppet regime had not yet been established. The British and French were only managers of the concession and did not have visa rights. In this way, a “three no matter” diplomatic and immigration space emerged in the concession.
   Although the war disrupted all normal order, the leased land in Shanghai instead created a management vacuum, and a unique landscape appeared in Shanghai – it became the only place where foreigners could enter freely without visa procedures. City.
   In this way, the bloody battlefield turned into a refuge for the exiles. But did the Jews who came to Shanghai consider that Japan, the Nazi ally, actually controlled Shanghai. Will the Jews who had just escaped from the tiger’s mouth end up in the wolf’s den again?
  The “Messinger” Plan and the “Shanghai Ghetto”
   were just when the Jewish life in Shanghai saw a glimmer of hope. In 1942, the Nazi Party adopted the Final Jewish Solution and decided to drive all Jews into concentration camps and begin mass murder.
   Nazi Germany, headed by Hitler, certainly noticed this large number of Jews fleeing to Shanghai. As a result, a secret plan called “Messinger” began to surface. The key part of the plan is to kill all the Jews staying in Shanghai!
   The German Nazi Messinger played an important role in the history of the Nazi massacre of Jews and was known as the “Butcher of Warsaw”, and he did go to Shanghai.
   At that time, the Japanese found it difficult to accept the “Messinger” plan from the beginning. Although they killed many Chinese, they did not want to kill the Jews. More importantly, the Japanese also hoped to rely on the wealth of the Jews to promote the plan in China. Puppet Manchuria construction plan. After much deliberation, Japan proposed a relatively compromise plan to deal with Germany: setting up a “stateless Jewish ghetto” in Shanghai, the so-called “Shanghai Ghetto”. On February 18, 1943, the Japanese authorities announced the establishment of a “designated area for stateless refugees”, requiring stateless refugees who came to Shanghai after 1937 to transfer their residence and business within 3 months (as of May 15). All moved to this area of ​​1 square mile.
  Kind-hearted Chinese
   The first Jews who were exiled to Shanghai were penniless and did not understand the language. If they wanted to survive, they could only rely on outside help. The Jews lined up in long lines to receive food and ate in the open air every day.
   During those difficult years, faced with the same material shortage, Shanghai citizens did not choose to be xenophobic. Instead, they gave up their rooms to accommodate Jewish refugees; helped Jewish refugees find jobs; and provided Jewish refugees with various assistance in life, such as Help take care of Jewish children and provide some daily necessities for Jewish refugees; let Chinese children study with Jewish children, such as Huoshan Road Primary School, which once accepted Jewish refugee children to study in the school.
   In the area of ​​Gongshe Road in Hongkou, there are two alleys where Jews live most densely. The Japanese once welded iron fences on the exits and prohibited entry and exit for as long as a year. Most of the more than 2,000 people trapped miraculously survived in the end. This was because Shanghai citizens living nearby rescued them by using primitive methods of throwing bread and other food. It is said that some Jewish refugees who are still alive today can still speak authentic Shanghai dialect.
   In the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Memorial Hall, there is a wall engraved with the names of 13,732 Jews who took refuge here, which will leave that history here forever.

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