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Exhibition to recall memories of ‘Shanghai Jews’

(study-shanghai.org) | Aug 07, 2015

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An exhibition to show Jewish heritage sites in Shanghai will kick off at the Shanghai Design Center on Aug 11.

The exhibition "In-between Memories", initiated by a non-government organization, Heritage Shanghai, aims to enhance public awareness and active engagement of all stakeholders for cultural heritage in the city.

Curators want to retell the stories of Jewish refugees in Shanghai during the 1930s and the 1940s through a collection of historic maps, diagrams, photos, paintings and vintage items.

The exhibition will also include an installation work composed of 6,000 black paper cranes to symbolize the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during the World War II.

IF YOU GO
Exhibition: IN-BETWEEN MEMORIES: Concentration Camps, Ghettos & Destinations
                   An Art & Architectural Representation of Jewish Heritage Sites in Shanghai
Date: Aug 11-15, 2015
Venue: Shanghai Design Center
              Flexible Exhibition Hall, 100 Guokang Rd, West No. 1 / Yangpu district  上海国康路100号西一楼 /柔性设计馆展厅
Opening ceremony: 19:00, Aug 11, 2015 (Tuesday)
Lecture: 19:00 ~ 20:30 Aug 13, 2015 (Thursday)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

On 9th November of 1938, synagogues and Jewish properties were destroyed by Nazi forces in what became known as Kristallnacht (‘Night of Breaking Glass’). Hundreds of thousands of Jewish people escaped from home to avoid the fate of life-threatening concentration camps. However, at that particular time, hardly any country around the globe would officially accept them being the war refugees, except one place, Shanghai. Shanghai becomes one of the very few places in the world that those Jewish refugees could obtain a visa and find a shelter with hopes to survive the war. During the decade of the World War II, almost 30,000 Jewish refugees arrived Shanghai, from central Europe, via various routes after travels over several thousand kilometers. Shanghai, becomes the Noah’s Ark for Jews in the Far East.

Jewish refugees lived in the shelters and refugee camps in Shanghai, more specifically, Hongkou district, which are known as ‘Ghettos in Hongkew’. They gradually migrated into the local community, opened their own business and worked in Shanghai to make a living. It was a harmonious relationship between these two ethnical groups. Neighbourhood such as Zhoushan Rd, Huoshan Rd and Huimin Rd, where Jews resides and congregates, were well-known for the name of ‘Little Vienna’.

In 1941, Shanghai fell with the invasion of Japanese force. Under the military control of Japan, the Jewish refugees in Hongkou were driven to a restricted small area, which is called ‘Segregated Precinct for Stateless Refugees’. Within it the Jewish refugees had a tough life, whist outside of the area Shanghai local residents suffered cruel oppression. During this period of hardship, Jewish refugees and locals built up friendship for the same goal of survival.

On 3rd September of 1945, Japan surrendered. It is a miracle that, apart from those dead due to sickness, nearly all of those Jewish refugees survived and there were even more than 400 new-born Jewish babies born in Shanghai. Later they left Shanghai to other places, including Australia, United States, Canada and Israel etc. For this particular group of Jewish refugees, who have escaped from Europe and lived in Shanghai for a decade, they have a very special title, ‘Shanghai Jews’. Until now, there are still approximately 1,500 ‘Shanghai Jews’ living in Melbourne and Sydney.


 

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