- In 1937, the Japanese conquered China and imposed their rule over Shanghai. At the time, the port city consisted of four million inhabitants, which by 1939 included approximately 25,000 Jews, many of whom arrived in Shanghai after Kristallnacht. Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria, and Hungary made their way to the Asian city because refugees were not required to produce a visa, passport, or official papers of any kind. In Shanghai, the refugees were able to replicate much of Jewish life as it had existed in Germany and Austria prior to the advent of the Nazi Party. The refugee community organized religious services, ranging from Reform to Orthodox, and fostered a Zionist movement, a German-language press, and many different forms of cultural and educational institutions such as a theater and adult education centers.As was the case for Jewish refugees in Japan, the Japanese government, under pressure from its German partner, established a ghetto on 18 February 1943. Because help from Jewish relief organizations, such as the American Joint Distribution Committee, was cut off as a result of the war, the Jewish Shanghai community was reduced to penury. In December 1943, the situation improved as a result of both the United States State and Treasury Departments granting permission for the transfer of funds to Europe and China. Life in the ghetto was not, however, subject to the cruelty and privations that characterized its counterparts in Nazi-occupied Europe. At war’s end, most of the Jews in Shanghai were either unwilling or unable to leave. The creation of Israel in 1948, however, led to an exodus to the Jewish state. Others, fearful that the Chinese communists would occupy the city, were able to resettle in the Western hemisphere. When the Maoist communist regime occupied the city in 1949, most of the Jews had already departed, and the small numbers that remained were allowed to leave by the mid-1950s.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.