The Jews of Shanghai

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk



The desperation of the German Jews after the accession of the Nazi party to power on January 31, 1933 may be measured in part by the fact that more than 14,000 German Jews had fled to Shanghai, China by 1939, when the Japanese closed the city to further immigration.

In the 1930’s very few airlines operated anywhere. Therefore the Jews who could do so traveled all the way from Germany through all of Poland, Russia and Siberia to the coast of China to reach Shanghai. That is a distance of over 8400 kilometers, or 5,220 miles.

The reason for the exodus to Shanghai was that until August of 1939 Shanghai was regarded as an “open city”, requiring no entry visa and no documents. Therefore those Jews who had the money to travel that far fled from the Nazi horrors, even to a place as far and strange to Jewish life as possible.

It must be remembered that the 580,000 Jews living in Germany in 1933 were victimized by the Nazi terror for six years before the start of the Second World War on September 1, 1939. During those six years German Jews made every effort to escape from Germany but could find very few countries, very few communities willing to accept any of them. This became quite clear during the Evian Conference. That conference met in the French city of Evian in July of 1938 at the behest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the express purpose of deciding how many German Jews would be allowed entry into the numerous countries attending the conference.

The delegates to that conference had come from all over the world including South America, the Scandinavian countries, England, Canada, South Africa and other members of the British Commonwealth and of course the United States.

After meeting for almost a month all delegates decided that none could allow any Jews into their country. The American Medical Association even went so far as to send a delegation whose sole purpose it was to advise the official American delegation not to allow any Jewish doctors into the U.S.

Our immigration policy at that time was regulated by a quota system which allowed 25,000 Germans to enter the country every year. That quota, however, was not exhausted by our consulates in Germany because Undersecretary of State Breckenridge Long deliberately prevented German Jews from obtaining the necessary visas from American consulates in Germany. This policy was of course approved by Franklin Roosevelt, the darling of the Jewish electorate in this country and a confirmed anti-Jewish hater in whose tradition such anti-Jews as the Clintons, John Kerry and the Democratic establishment still operate.

The Germans were also invited to the Evian conference and gloated at the conclusion of the conference that evidently nobody wanted the Jews any more than they wanted us.

In short, the Evian conference gave the German government a green light to murder Jews. Therefore, on November 9-10, 1938, the Germans burned down every synagogue in Germany and Austria and began their policy of mass murder for those still within their borders. By then, 130,000 Jews had fled Germany or Austria, but the annexation of Austria had increased the number of Jews under German jurisdiction, so that nearly 600,000 were still in danger of slaughter before the invasion of Poland.

The desperate Jews therefore made endless appeals to the Jewish community in the United States for help, which was refused with very few exceptions. American Jewish organizations and the Jewish community in general were convinced that the German Jews were arrogant and exaggerated their plight. In general the Jewish community was afraid of speaking up for other Jews lest they themselves would be targeted here by Nazi sympathizers and other haters.

Meanwhile the Jews living in Germany at the time could not understand why the American Jews voted in droves for Roosevelt, who would not even let the few Jews on the ship St. Louis land in Miami in 1937. This is similar to the inability of the current Israeli population to understand why American Jews will not support the re-election of George W. Bush, the only friend Israel has today.

The failure of the Evian conference then convinced the German Jews that there were only two places on earth for them. Those who wanted to rid themselves of Jews and those who would not admit any Jews. Except for Shanghai.

This is then the reason that the few who still had some money traveled those many miles to save themselves.

When Germany’s ally Japan occupied Shanghai, the Japanese imposed numerous restrictions on the Jews but did not follow the German demand to send the Jews back to Germany to be gassed. This was refused because the Japanese had read the Russian forgery called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This garbage is still popular among the Arabs and claims that Jews rule the world, have all the money, etc. etc.

Unlike Christians who saw in the Protocols reason to murder Jews, the Japanese believed these canards and wanted to be allies of the Jews, who they thought ruled the world. The Japanese recognized that they could lose the war to America and therefore wanted to be well liked by the “real” bosses of the U.S.A., i.e. “the Jews”. This idiocy saved the lives of the Jews who lived in Shanghai throughout the Second World War.

After the defeat of Japan, the Communists took over in 1949. Thereupon the entire Jewish community of nearly 20,000 left Shanghai for the U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Israel and elsewhere.

If this interests you, do read the book by David Kranzler, Japanese, Nazis and Jews - The Jewish Refugee Community in Shanghai 1938-1945.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Man's Ascent to Reason (2003) & the forthcoming Football & American Identity.

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