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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 08:40, November 11, 2005
Feature: Former Jewish refugees revisit Shanghai Ark
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Ruth Shani, aged 82, stopped at a three-storeyed Jewish building at Zhoushan Road in Shanghai, saying "this was once my home."

Together with four former Jewish refugees, Shani on Thursday visited Shanghai, the "oriental Noah's Ark" which sheltered the Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution 60 years ago.

Shani once lived in Shanghai along with her parents from 1939 to 1949.

Shanghai accommodated about 30,000 Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi holocaust in World War II, and thousands of them ran to other countries via Shanghai. They were mainly restricted to live in the Hongkou District in northeastern Shanghai by the invading Japanese fascists at that time.

The invading Japanese forces in Shanghai then segregated the Jewish communities from the other areas. Jews needed passes and would be searched to go in and out of their communities, said W. Michael Blumenthal, former US Treasury Secretary and curator of the Berlin Jewish Museum. He was only 13 when fleeing to Shanghai along with his parents.

At that time, local Shanghai people had tried their best to help the Jews, lending the Jews houses and other daily necessities and helping the Jewish children share the same schools with local kids, said Karl Bettelheim, a biologist from Australia.

During World War II, Chinese and Jews had suffered a lot from the fascism. About 3 million of the 10 million Jews were massacred in Nazi holocaust and 35 million of the 400 million Chinese were killed by the invading Japanese fascists.

Some historians regard the survival of the Jews in Shanghai a miracle because they not only survived but also increased by about 400 people.

Manli Ho, daughter of China's Schindler He Fengshan, also visited Shanghai along with the former Jewish refugees.

He Fengshan, the then Chinese consul general in Vienna, provided the fleeing Jews permits to go to the oriental city of Shanghai.

"When my father saw them suffer so much, it was natural for him to sympathize and help them," Manli Ho said.

The local Shanghai government is planning to protect the former Jewish communities, which cover about 30 hectares, in the coming five to eight years.

Source: Xinhua

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