Xinhua Insight: Jewish refugee list unveils bond with Shanghai "safe heaven"
                 English.news.cn | 2014-09-02 18:24:13 | Editor: An

 

Sonja Muehlberger searches for her name from a copper wall after a press meeting at the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum, in Shanghai, east China, Sept. 2, 2014. A list naming 13,732 Jewish refugees who took safe haven in China during World War II carved into a 34-meter-long copper wall was unveiled at the museum on Tuesday. Sonja, 75, a German activist who was born into a Jewish family in Shanghai in 1939. Names of her family were also on the list, which originated from the appendix of Exile in Shanghai:1938-1947, a German book exploring the time period. Sonja contributed to the book and proofread the list, which was initially compiled by three Jewish girls during the war. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)

by Xinhua writers Hu Tao, Xu Xiaoqing, Ji Ming

SHANGHAI, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- A list naming 13,732 Jewish refugees who took safe haven in China during World War II carved into a 34-meter-long copper wall was unveiled in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Constructed in the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum at the former site of Ohel Moshe Synagogue, the monument was opened to the public the day before the 69th anniversary of China's victory in the anti-Japanese war.

"The list is particularly meaningful. All of [the refugees] survived harsh days in the war and sheltered in Shanghai", said Sonja Muehlberger, 75, a German activist who was born into a Jewish family in Shanghai in 1939.

Names of her family were also on the list, which originated from the appendix of Exile in Shanghai:1938-1947, a German book exploring the time period.

Sonja contributed to the book and proofread the list, which was initially compiled by three Jewish girls during the war.

"Shanghai was the only place in the world open to Jewish refugees. We will never forget the city," said Sonja.

ORIENTAL NOAH'S ARK

Shanghai gained fame as a refuge for those fleeing Germany in World War II, accommodating about 20,000 Jewish refugees at the height of the war, said Pan Guang, a researcher at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Japanese invaders restricted their residences to the so called ghetto for stateless refugees in northeastern Shanghai's Hongkou District.

China's anti-Japanese war was an important part of the World Anti-Fascist War. Despite being incomplete, the list is a precious record to mark the period's history, Pan said.

In the 1930s and 40s, Shanghai granted access to Jews who escaped from the Nazi Holocaust in Europe, where 6 million Jews were massacred.

Thousands of Jewish refugees flooded into Shanghai via two major channels: on a sea route from Europe to Southeast Asia and then to Shanghai; those from Eastern European took train across Eurasia, Siberia into the northeast China, and then arrived in Shanghai.

In Shanghai, they built a community life and shared with the woes of the Chinese people living under Japanese occupation.

The Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum and the Jewish Jewish Studies Center of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences have jointly collected and studied information on the city's refugees, said Pan.

A database of the recorded names has been set up and opened to public inquiries.

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