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17 September 2010

Jews of Shanghai

The history of the Jewish community in Shanghai, China includes several times when Jewish immigrants made the city their new home. The first instance was in the mid 1800's when the Sassoon's arrived. They were prominent Sephardic businessmen who arrived from Baghdad. They made a good life in Shanghai and helped build up both the Jewish community and the city itself.
The second group to make Shanghai home, were the Jews fleeing the Bolsheviks in Russia. They arrived in the early 1900's. The third group to arrive,in the early 1930's, were the Europeans who were fleeing the Nazi's. Shanghai wasn't necessarily their first choice, but it was somewhere that was willing to accept them. At one time this community numbered over 30,000 people. They were a prosperous people, establishing themselves in their new homeland.

In February of 1943, in an attempt to satisfy the Germans who wanted the Japanese to implement the final solution in Shanghai, the Jews were moved to the "Ghetto" where they lived in a very confined, tightly packed area. A few years after World War II ended, civil war came to China. This caused all refugees to flee again. This led to not only the closing of synagogues and businesses, but to the end of the Jewish community.
The community as it was may now be gone, but what is left of this time however is an incredible collection of stories about the Jews who lived in Shanghai. Three people, Georg Armbrüster, Michael Kohlstruck, Sonja Mühlberger have published Exil Shanghai 1938-1947 , a Collection of articles on the Jewish community of Shanghai, China, composed primarily of refugees from Germany and Austria, during the period of 1938-1947 (FHL book #951.1301 F2e) This source also includes a CD that includes a list of 14,800 foreigners registered with the Japanese police (CD #1497)

Anyone who has family in Shanghai from this time frame, would be well advised to investigate this book.

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