Shanghai, China

“The Designated Area for Stateless Refugees” (Jewish Ghetto) of Shanghai, China

On our first visit to Shanghai in 1995, our family visited the Jewish Ghetto of Shanghai with an English-speaking guide who gave us a very good overview of the history of the Jewish “stateless refugees” (predominantly from Germany and its neighboring countries) who arrived in the 1930s. At that time there were no museums and virtually no plaques on the walls of the ghetto houses to tell the story of that era. On our present visit, we had a tour with an expert local guide who toured us through the ghetto (“the designated area for stateless refugees”) and introduced us to several restored buildings that now serve as a museum and reminders of the history of the era.

From 1933 to 1941, Shanghai became a modern-day “Noah’s Ark”, accepting around 18,000 Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust in Europe. By the time World War II ended in 1945, most of the Jewish refugees survived in Shanghai.  Dr. David Kranzler, a noted Holocaust historian, called it the “Miracle of Shanghai” and commented that within Jewry’s greatest tragedy, i.e. the Holocaust, there shone a few bright lights. Among the brightest of these is the Shanghai haven.

The former site of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Shanghai, China. During World War II, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee set up this branch office in the Jewish ghetto — it became the most important international organization in support of European Jewish refugees
A tai chi class in Huoshan Park was underway during our walk through the small neighborhood park in Shanghai, China; it was built in 1917 and was frequented by the Jewish refugees living nearby for breaks and parties during World War II
This monument in Huoshan Park (erected sometime after our 1995 visit) notes that the neighborhood was the “designated area for stateless refugees (Jews)” who arrived in the 1930s in Shanghai, China
In Huoshan Park this building served as an administrative center in the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Shanghai, China; the renovations were paid for by donations from the State of Israel and Israeli companies in collaboration with the Honghou District People’s Government in appreciation of the absorption of Jewish refugees by the people of Shanghai before and during World War II
The former Ohel Moshe Synagogue in the Hongkou neighborhood was converted to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum by the Shanghai Municipal Government in 2007

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