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Israeli in Shanghai

From 1933 to 1941, Shanghai became a modern-day “Noah’s Ark” accepting around 30,000 Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust in Europe. In the “Designated Area for Stateless Refugees” in Tilanqiao area of Shanghai, about 20,000 Jewish refugees lived harmoniously with local citizens, overcoming numerous difficulties together. By the time the Second World War ended in 1945, most of the Jewish refugees had survived. Dr. David Kranzler, a noted Holocaust historian, called it the “Miracle of Shanghai” and commented that within the Jewry’s greatest tragedy, i.e. the Holocaust, there shone a few bright lights. Among the brightest of these is the Shanghai haven. In the "Tilanqiao Historic Area”, the original features of the Jewish settlement are still well preserved. They are the only typical historic traces of Jewish refugee life inside China during the Second World War.

Shanghai was at the time an 'open port' and the Jews who arrived in the city found a safe haven mainly in Hongkou district. The Jewish refugees lived peacefully and in friendship with their Chinese neighbors. It was certainly very emotional to meet and to hear the stories first hand from the actual people who lived here more the 70 years ago. It was emotional because not only many of them still think of Shanghai as home but also because all of them owe their lives to the fact that they had a place to go to. The Jews who arrived in shanghai came from various countries, from all ages and different backgrounds. The Jewish refugees resided mainly in the Hongkou District. The Jewish refugees lived peacefully and in friendship with their Chinese neighbors.  Together they went through the war ordeals but also shared various happy events.

The Jews and Chinese invited each other to family celebrations and assisted each other in    tragedies. The Jewish refugees did their best to enrich their communal life and their surroundings. The Jewish refugees opened communal schools, synagogues, theaters, and coffee shops. They also started a newspaper and established various sports teams.

At the end of the war most Jews left China and immigrated to Israel, the U.S and Australia. Among the Jewish refugees in Shanghai were former U.S Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal, businessman Shaul Eisenberg and composer Otto Joachim.

To mark 70 years to the end of the war, the Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai has created a film called “Xiexie Shanghai” as a symbol of friendship and cooperation.