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January 07, 1977 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-01-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Friday, January 7, 1977 37-'

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Shanghai:Where European, Jews Found Refuge in War

0

BY FRANK L. THEYLEG
(Editor's Note: Mr.
Theyleg is a retired Ford
Motor Co. engineer and is
active in the Detroit chap-
ter of the American Soci-
ety for Technion.)
Mike Blumenthal's ap-
pointment to the Secre-
tary of the Treasury re-
newed the interest in the
situation of the Jewish
refugee's in Shanghai,
who found a temporary
haven, staying from
about 1938 to 1947. .
Like the Blumenthal
family, we fled Berlin in
late 1939 via Italy. Like
most, we travelled aboard
an ancient Japanese
semi-freighter for some
30- days. This was because
Japanese and Italian

ships were the principal age, housed themselves
carriers between Italy 'privately by rebuilding
and the Far East which, war-damaged structures
as Nazi allies, could con- and usually occupying
- duct business in Hitler's one room per family in
Germany.
them. Most of these also
Most if not all refugees drew their food rations
arrived penniless, except from the camps, along
for minor possessions, with basic health care
and became totally de- and schooling, religious
pendent on Joint Dis- needs and general
tribution Commitee aid socialities.
upon arriving as well as
All JDC aid was ad-
during their stay in ministered by fellow ref-
Shanghai. This aid was ugees who were the only
mainly the complete sup- contact the JDC had with
port with minimum cal- most refugees-. The iden-
ory rations, less than tity of -the "foreign Joint
1,500 calories per day, and people"; rumored to be in
shelter in dormitories of Shanghai, was generally
some five camps in the unknown.
Hongkew district.
Even Chuck Jordan,
These shelters, con- who arrived (to my recol-
verted former schools and lection) after World War
factories vacated because II, sometime in late 1945,
of the effects of the 1937- was known by name only
38 Chinese-Japanese War, to most. Therefore it is
housed up to one half the questionable that Chunk
liztEzman
entire refugee population, sought out or made the
in very primitive condi- acquaintanceship of the
Orchestra
tions.
then teen-age Blument-
399-1301
Those who could' man- , hal.
Very few refugees ar-
rived by trans-Siberian
railroad, this route being
not available to German
Jews. The few I met who
travelled that lyay origi-
nated their voyage from
either eastern Austria or
Poland, after the outbreak
of the war in September,
1939. The feasibility of this
route ended by 1940.
JDC aid was available
HOURS: MON.-SAT. 10:30 TO 4:30
to all needy refugees. Un-
doubtedly, it prevented a
major catastrophy
matter now minimal this
aid was. Since Hitler's
definition of being Jewish
was the infamous
Nuremberg Laws, some
Jews were so classified by
virtue of a Jewish grand
parent, a Jewish spouse,
and so on. Since survival
assurance was the major
function of the JDC, reli-
gious requirements were
frequently subordinated
by sheer necessities.
These necessities be-
came extremely acute
with the bombing of Pearl
Harbor and thereafter
when the Japanese oc-
cupiers of Shanghai not
only stopped all commer-
cial activities but also the
flow of JDC funds.
Had it not been for the
intervention of some
neutral countries, re-
GROUP OF DESIGNERS
‘16
portedly Switzerland,
and some of the wealthy
Shanghai Jews, notably
the Sassoons and
Khadoories, along with a
REG. PRICE UP TO $45
number of Chinese, the
majority of the refugee
population would have
perished.
This extreme situation
became further aggra-
vated with the creation of
the "Shanghai Ghetto" by
the Japanese in about
1943. This ghetto was
formed by concentrating
all Hitler refugees of
JUST ARRIVED!
Jewish definition into a
populated area, soIne
COME SEE OUR NEW SELECTION
three square miles in size, '
OF CRUISE WEAR-
of the Hongkew district.
No considerations were
given to commercial or
survival opportunities.
The ghetto was ad-
ministered by the
Japense authority, repre-
SPORTSWEAR
It
sented by two officers
named Goya and Okura
who behaved as though

',

L

_L-,En n y

(ESTHER and ESTELLES

SPORTSWEAR

2838 Coolidge
Berkley, Mich.

.

CLEARANCE SALE!

ENTIRE STOCK
of FALL and WINTER
MERCHANDISE

las

0

75%
AND M RE

UP
TO

F

SWEATERS

ii

NOW

ALL. SLACKS

h.

50%?

ESTHER and ESTELLES

they were trained by the
SS, with Goya playing the
tough guy and Okura
"Mr. Nice guy". Both dis-
apPeared without trace
on V-J day, along with
several of their subordi-
nates.
They
successfully
eluded our search, which
was aided by the U.S. Mil-
itary Police, as well as the
Chinese intelligence' or-
ganization. They were
wanted because they
were responsible for and
often carried out severe
brutalizations of the ref-'
ugees. I am hesitant in
reciting specifics, some of
which I personally bear.
By 1945, the health of
the refugee population
had deteriorated to the
point where an adult man
weighing 120 pounds was
considered normal if not
overweight. Health care
had diminished to little
more than aspirins or
bandages, except when
ad-ministered by the
Japanese for the preven-
tion of epidemics to the
general population with
public innoculations.
The-refugees, generally
too fatalistic by now, found
some hope in the daily air
raids conducted by the
U.S. Air Force. Many stood
on roofs, cheering-Me
planes; disregarding the
hazards - of falling anti-
aircraft shrapnell and the
usually absent Japanese
MP.
In one such air raid, the
ghetto was erroneously

General Decorates
MDA Workers

TEL AVIV — At a
ceremony held recently in
Tel Aviv, Brig. Gen. Yit-'
zhak Zaid, commanding
officer of Israel's civil.de-
fense corps presented the
Yom Kippur War Ribbon
to the v-olunteers and
staff of Magen David,
Adom (MDA).

bombed due to equipmRut
failure. A number of ref-
ugee houses , were de-
stroyed; many were killed
by direct hits or, as my
late fat-her, succumbed
from their injuries, often
some years later because
of poor health and inade-
quate care.
By 1947, most refugees
had been evacuated by
the JDC. Most came to the
USA, landing in San
Francisco on troop trans-
ports, and received by
local JDC activities. From
there, they dispersed into
cities all over the U.S.
Some remained. Some be-
came successful, some
failed. Most prevailed in
some manner.
Some continued to re-
main Jewish and practice
their religion by adapting
their religious needs to
American Jewish cus-
toms. Some converted for
whatever reasons. Some
were embittered, some
were grateful.
In short, they began to
behave like people in nor-
mal circumstances which,
I think, is the happy con-
clusion of a very dark
period and the ultimate
purpose of, the JDC.

In writing these lines, I
am beginning to realize...,
that very few facts ever
became known about the
Shanghai re,fugees. I al-
luded to the role played
by some Chinese along
with the Sassoons, etc.
There were also Chinese
Jews who pitched in as
well as some Japanese
Jews who literally risked
their lives to help their
co-religionists.
Perhaps, the present:.
generation should be bet-
ter informed about this •
period. There have been
some papers published by
writers who had either
secondary or superficial
knowledge only. The pre-
sent generation here and
abroad would benefit
much by learning the ac-
tual and down-to-earth
facts.

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