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Arrival in Shanghai: A Sanctuary for Jewish Refugees (1933-1941)

Weihan Liu
Published: 1 January 2021
Sociology Mind , Volume 11, pp 25-31; doi:10.4236/sm.2021.111003

Abstract: Between 1933 and 1941, approximately 30,000 Jewish refugees arrived on the coast of Shanghai. While some of them passed through to other countries for sanctuary, most of them stayed in Shanghai until the war ended. These refugees represented the Third Wave of Jewish migration into Shanghai. In the light of the Sino-Japanese war, the governing authorities in Shanghai tried to stem the influx of Jewish refugees. Despite this pressure, the Jewish refugees managed to not only enter Shanghai but quickly create thriving communities in the Tilanqiao area. This paper argues that they were able to do this because of extensive help provided by already established Jewish communities in Shanghai and overseas organizations such as the Joint Distribution Committee. The support provided by these entities is often underplayed in the official historical reports of this time. Using documentary evidence and refugee memoirs, this paper will argue that in the absence of this help from the Jewish communities and overseas organizations, the Jewish refugees would not have been able to enter Shanghai, escape Nazi persecution and thrive in the way that they did.
Keywords: Shanghai / Jewish / Refugees / Nazi / Joint Distribution Committee

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