Distinguished Senior Theses


You Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee:
The German-Jewish Refugees in Shanghai During the Second World War

Leah Gottheiner (2005)

“My mother did not want to leave Breslau, especially to go to Shanghai. If my older brother had not fled to Shanghai on his own in 1938 forcing my mother to give in to be near her first-born son, I’m sure that I would not be alive today. We were among the last to get out.”[1]

In June of 1940, my grandfather Hans Gottheiner and his parents Jon and Frieda boarded a train in Breslau, Germany. This train was one of the very last available means of escape for a Jewish family from Nazi Germany. Young Hans, only ten years old, and his parents traveled through the Soviet Union, stopping in such places as Moscow and Siberia, until finally arriving six weeks later in Shanghai, China, the only haven open to them. Hans and his parents spent the next eight years living in Shanghai while hoping to someday move to a more desirable and permanent location.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s thousands of Jews in Germany and Austria were fortunate to escape the persecution of the Nazis. Often these Jews fled Europe with little more than the clothes on their backs, but still maintained the hope that life in their new homes had to be better than the horrors they had experienced under the Nazis. Shanghai became an unexpected refuge for nearly twenty thousand Jews during the Holocaust, but the city posed obstacles of its own. Indeed, many Jews who fled there often later doubted their decision. With little news as to what was happening in Europe, many wondered if they should have stayed and weathered the storm. Indeed, life in Shanghai as a refugee created a crisis in identity for many of the German refugees. In Shanghai, the refugees struggled to maintain the culture and values of their mostly middle class background despite being unable to maintain the means or the financial stability customary for a bourgeois lifestyle. The German and Austrian Jewish refugees of Shanghai were forced to leave their homelands due to their religion, which the Nazis defined as a distinct, and inferior, race. Yet, as refugees they relied more on their middle class identity than their religious or national one to manage their daily survival as refugees. Through their work, employment and entertainment, the Jewish refugees in Shanghai sought to emphasize and maintain their sense of bourgeois social class both as a strategy of survival as well as one of personal identity.

The bulk of the research for this particular study has been drawn from a small group of memoirs and interviews of those who survived their experiences in Shanghai. Most of the memoirs examined have been published in the last fifteen years; the authors consist of those who were young adults, adolescents or small children during their experience in Shanghai. Their recollections offer valuable insights as to how the German and Austrian Jewish refugee community maintained their sense of class identity. At the same time these sources have their limitations. Inevitably memories have faded, but more importantly, their experiences as children and young adults determined their vantage point to refugee society. Also, the fact that these former refugees went on to later write and publish memoirs further indicates their middle class identity.

There has been a great deal of scholarship written on the city of Shanghai during the Second World War. The city was one of excitement and danger. The Japanese waged their war against the Chinese and occupied much of the city in 1937. The territories of the city that were not taken by the Japanese conquerors were already under the control of the Western powers, Great Britain, France and the United States. These too would come under Japanese control after December 1941. The Chinese inhabitants of the city suffered under both the Western powers and the Japanese. There was a sizable community that existed in Shanghai during the war however, that seemed to exist in a sort of state of limbo. They had no citizenship and came to Shanghai to escape persecution in their own homelands. These German and Austrian Jews, ultimately numbering approximately 20,000, survived the war years in Shanghai through charity, sacrifice, and extreme resourcefulness. Few scholars have examined the Jewish refugee community that existed in Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s. Those who have, focus primarily on the interaction this community had with the Japanese and the horrific living conditions which they endured.

While there are many books and articles that examine life in Shanghai during the war, few scholarly works have been published in English that examine the Jewish refugees of Shanghai. David Kranzler is the author of the first piece, Japanese Nazis & Jews: The Jewish Community of Shanghai 1938-1945, published in 1976. This book presents a comprehensive study about basic refugee life as well as the community’s interactions with other ethnic groups, in particular the Japanese. Marcia Reynders Ristaino, in her book Port of Last Resort: The Diaspora Communities of Shanghai, builds on Kranzler’s work by placing the German and Austrian Jewish refugees in the larger context of the greater city of Shanghai. In the process both Kranzler and Ristaino portray the Jewish refugees as a community that heroically survived amid the disease, squalor, and poverty that was their daily reality.

Kranzler’s main point is to demonstrate how the refugees came to be in Shanghai and how they were able to survive their experience. He presents his research in five distinct categories in order to achieve this: The escape from Central Europe; the relief efforts by Shanghailanders and American Jewry; the creation of a Jewish community; the Japanese and the Jews; the War in the Pacific; and the establishment of the ghetto in 1943.[2]

Kranzler and Ristaino assert that the journey for most of the Shanghai Jewish refugees began on Kristallnacht. Shanghai was considered as a last resort by refugees and the events of November 10, 1938 created the desperation necessary in many to brave the long voyage to what was seen as a dangerous and alien place. In the mass scramble for difficult-to-obtain visas after the state sponsored pogrom, many discovered that only Shanghai required neither visa nor financial guarantee. Kranzler successfully demonstrates that Shanghai was never a destination that the Jews of Germany and Austria considered to be ideal. He achieves this by briefly discussing the desire of most Jews to gain entrance into America. He goes on to explain how the United States’ quota system regarding immigration devastated the chances of thousands who had hoped to gain a “desirable visa.”[3]

Ristaino’s scrutiny rests on the Jewish refugee community as well as the Slavic refugees that had arrived in Shanghai earlier. She asserts that these two communities “have been largely overlooked” by scholars.[4] The focus of her study is to examine how the diverse ethnic and religious groups in Shanghai were able to form a community. It is in this regard that she disagrees with Kranzler’s articulation that the German and Austrian Jewish refugees kept mostly to themselves and formed their own distinct community. While it is true that the German and Austrian Jewish refugees certainly interacted with other ethnic and religious groups, they did seek to establish their own distinct community. Kranzler’s idea of almost complete isolation and Ristaino’s assertion of a single, unified community among refugees both seem overstated. The Slavic and Jewish Refugee communities of Shanghai formed two distinct groups which interacted when compelled by necessity.

Kranzler’s narrower focus on the German and Austrian Jewish refugees allows for his research to include more a discussion on the lives of these people before leaving Europe. Kranzler explains in some detail the effects of such things as the Nuremburg Laws, the Evian Conference and the significance of Kristallnacht to the mentality of the refugees.[5] Ristaino presents both the Slavic refugees of the Russian Revolution and those fleeing Nazism as two groups that just seem to appear in Shanghai without sufficient explanation or consideration of the impact their distinct experiences may have had on them.

The primary factor that made the idea of immigration to Shanghai fathomable was, that their were significant Jewish communities already established in the city. Both Kranzler and Ristaino discuss these pre-existing communities in great detail. The two long standing Jewish communities, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi, were significant to the survival of the Jewish refugees of Shanghai.

The Sephardic Jewish community in Shanghai included some of the wealthiest Jews in the world, most of whom had British citizenship. Kranzler and Ristaino recognize that the charity given by the Sephardic community, specifically the Sassoon, Kadoorie and Hardoon families, were of immeasurable significance to the survival of the refugees up until the war in the Pacific began in December of 1941. This charity allowed for the building of schools, hospitals and large group homes which served the needs of the most destitute.

Of key significance to the development of a refugee community were the many loans given to them by the Sephardic funded charity organization which allowed for the establishment of European businesses and entertainment.[6] Ristaino asserts that these loans enabled the refugees to avoid taking the jobs of the established working class and therefore curtailed the likelihood of conflict between the refugees and Chinese workers. Ristaino contends that it was predominately out of a desire to ease tensions between the Chinese and Westerners that these loans were extended.[7] She fails to recognize the possibility that the established Jewish community desired to designate the refugees as members of the middle-class in order to preserve their own superiority over the Chinese and to preserve their own standing among the English and French elites.

The German and Austrian Jewish refugees were in the process of establishing themselves when, Kranzler and Ristaino, assert the most significant event of the war for them occurred in May of 1943, all stateless refugees who had arrived in Shanghai after 1937 were restricted by the Japanese occupiers to an area of approximately one square mile in the poorest section of the city. The restrictions of the new ghetto applied only to those Jews who came to Shanghai in order to escape Nazi persecution even though this was never fully articulated by the Japanese. For the poorest of the refugees, this proclamation was not too severe of a hardship because they already lived in impoverished circumstances. For those refugees who had previously established themselves in Shanghai, the proclamation was devastating.

Kranzler and Ristaino differ somewhat in what they see as the reasoning behind the Japanese creation of the Jewish ghetto. Kranzler claims that the Japanese government had been persuaded by constant pressure from the Nazis to create the ghetto. Kranzler sees as evidence of this, the increase of Anti-Semitic propaganda that circulated in Shanghai prior to the proclamation.[8] Kranzler shows how the Jews were being blamed in the press for participating in the black market, and were likely to participate in sabotage of the Japanese war-effort.[9]

Ristaino agrees that there was a Nazi presence in Shanghai, but argues that Nazi interference in Japanese affairs had little to do with the creation of the Jewish ghetto in 1943. She claims, rather, that it was their classification as stateless that made them a potential threat and asset in the minds of the Japanese officials. As the war in the Pacific began to go badly for the Japanese, the military significance of Shanghai became more apparent. It is no coincidence, Ristaino claims, that the ghetto comprised the one square mile where all of the Japanese radio equipment in Shanghai was located. The statelessness of the Jews afforded them no protection by any government and therefore the Japanese could legally treat them as they wished. However, the Japanese thought it unlikely that the Allies would bomb an area inhabited by a large concentration of refugees. Therefore Ristaino views the creation of a Jewish ghetto in Shanghai as having a military rational whereas Kranzler views the event as one derived from Anti-Semitic Nazi influence.

Ristaino’s contention regarding the establishment of the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai is consistent with the findings of Donald McKale whose study focuses directly on the impact of the Nazi party in the Far East. Donald McKale in his article, “The Nazi Party in the Far East” examines the impact of Nazi organizations on the foreign communities in the Far East. He offers considerable insight into the Nazi party organizations in China and Japan, while the organizations which existed in Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, and India are addressed briefly.

It is McKale’s contention that the existence of Nazi organizations in the Far East had little impact on the governments of these countries. Even after the German alliance with Japan, Nazi organizers had little impact on Japanese policies in Japan or Japanese-occupied China. Even in Shanghai, which had the largest Nazi party in the Far East, party members could not muster enough Japanese interest to ensure their protection against the Chinese who resented Germany’s alliance with Japan.[10] The Nazi party in Shanghai headed by Franz Hasenohrl would often hold elaborate, ceremonial meetings. Hasenohrl, Mckale explains, “was determined that Germans in Shanghai (and elsewhere in China) were going to relive the exciting changes which he believed the Third Reich was bringing to Germany.”[11] McKale offers no evidence of how the presence of Nazi members in the Far East, particularly in Shanghai and Manchuria, reacted to the relatively large presence of the Jewish immigrants. Surely Nazi policy dictated particular treatment, or at least an attitude toward the Jews. The answer to this question is not addressed in McKale’s article but it is likely that the Jewish populations in China so outnumbered the Nazi party members that a large anti-Semitic movement could never fully impact the society. Moreover, in the case of Shanghai, the presence of many prominent and very wealthy Jews may have had a hand in the impotence of the Nazi party there. McKale’s analysis fails to address the issue of anti-Semitism, and how the Nazi organizations in the Far East interacted with the many other cultural groups with whom they certainly came in contact.

An important factor to consider is McKale’s assertion that most members of the Nazi party members who immigrated to the Far East often did so for economic reasons.[12] Nazi members in China, for example, were often involved in commerce. This is further demonstrated by the creation of branches of the German-Asiatic Bank in major Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Hankow, Tientsin, Shanghai, and Tsingtau. These economic, rather than ideological motives surely explain in part the lack of anti-Semitic fervor promoted by these groups.

The crux of McKale’s analysis is to point out the conflict that existed within the Nazi party as a result of its alliance first with China and then later with Japan. The earlier alliance with China resulted in the creation of Nazi party organizations throughout China’s major cities. After the Nazi party made its first alliance with Japan in 1936 as well as the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, the organizations in China remained. This resulted in the disdain of the Chinese people as well as, possibly, a lack of full commitment by the Japanese to Nazi doctrine.

Both Kranzler and Ristaino identify the existence of a refugee community in Shanghai during the Second World War. Both authors identify this community as a Jewish community. This label implies that their basic identity was one that was based upon their being Jewish. Certainly what brought them there was their Jewishness as defined by the Nazis. Yet, close examination of the recent memoirs that have emerged from survivors of this community suggest that their daily survival and sense of identity was dominated more by their middle-class background than their Jewish one. This identity is apparent in their attempts to create a bourgeois culture amidst the poverty in which they lived. While religion and ethnic tradition was certainly present in the community, the refugee’s sense of social class seems to have predominated.

Shanghai: Open Port

Shanghai is located in northeast China and sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River (see figure A in the appendix). For this reason it became an attractive trade location for European powers, particularly the British in the mid-nineteenth century. The treaties that resulted from China’s defeat in the Opium Wars gave Great Britain, France and the United States trading rights in Shanghai as well as several other Chinese port cities. More importantly, these treaties gave Great Britain, France and the United States the right of extraterritoriality: legal exemption from Chinese law.[13] The foreign powers quickly took advantage of these rights and established areas of influence within Shanghai. The area controlled by the French became known as the French Concession. The American and British also created settlements within the city, however, by 1863 these two settlements consolidated into one large area referred to as the International Settlement (see figure B in the appendix).[14]

Several other nations developed a presence within the International Settlement and gained a voice in the municipal government that was established there. These nations included Germany, Italy, Austria and Russia. After the First World War however, the Soviet Union voluntarily gave up its participatory role and Germany, Italy and Austria lost their place as a result of the war as well. Thus, after World War I, the British, Americans and Japanese, who were among the victors of the First World War, remained in control of the Municipal Government of the International Settlement.

Within these designated areas the foreign powers had complete authority to govern free from Chinese influence. Quasi-military units were formed known as the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. These units received official recognition from the Chinese government, which ensured that the Chinese police would not interfere with any possible skirmishes within the Western settlements.[15] Furthermore, the Shanghai Municipal Police Force was established as well as a Mixed Court system, which replaced Chinese laws with Western ones. The courts were presided over by westerners. The Chinese were denied the right to establish their own courts or police within the area of the settlements and had to function within the Western system when dealing with cases that involved solely Chinese interests within the international settlements.[16]

In 1937 the Japanese military won the Battle of Shanghai and began to occupy the Honkgew district of the city. At this time the Japanese made no attempt to infringe upon the authority of the Western powers of Shanghai; instead they seemed to have desired to live harmoniously, at least temporarily so, with the French, British, and American officials and businessmen.

And so Shanghai became an international city. By 1939, 20,000 Japanese, Korean, Indians, and Filipinos, 9,000 British, 2,600 French, 5,000 Germans and Dutch, and 15,000 Russians lived in the International settlements of Shanghai with approximately 1.5 million Chinese inhabitants.[17] The British, American, French and Japanese had complete autonomy while the Chinese had virtually no authority within large sections of their own city. Of key significance to this study is the fact that due to this unique situation in Shanghai, the city became a free and open port.[18] No visa, passport or financial guarantee were required for entry into the city as none of the foreign powers would assume control over immigration or concede this authority to the Chinese. Shanghai thus became one of the only havens for thousands of Jews fleeing Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

From Europe to Shanghai

In January 1933 Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in Germany. Their political agenda included the persecution of socialists and Jews and others they deemed undesirable. Nazi anti-Semitic ideology called for the complete elimination of Jews from German soil. During the 1930s, the Nazi’s official way of accomplishing this was through emigration. In 1933, 525,000 Jews resided within Germany.[19] Approximately 37,000 people fled Germany in 1933; most of this group consisted of political refugees rather than religious ones. Throughout 1934-1937 emigration from Germany consisted of about 22,000 people per year. These early immigrants fled to places such as Palestine, the United States, France and Great Britain.[20] At the beginning of 1938 roughly 390,000 Jews still remained in Germany.[21] Many from this group would eventually flee to Shanghai.

Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, is the day when many German Jews who eventually fled to Shanghai began their struggle to escape Germany. Until this attack, many Jews had convinced themselves that they would be able to wait out the turmoil in their country. Kristallnacht, meaning “the night of the broken glass” signified the end of Jewish life in Germany for many who would become German Shanghailanders. Those who have written about their experience in Shanghai tend to begin their stories with this event which had a significant impact in their experience as refugees. During the Nazi-sponsored pogrom, thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed by mobs of Germans. Nearly 30,000 Jewish men were captured and imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps.[22] Nearly 1,000 synagogues were destroyed. Ernst Heppner was a teenager in Breslau in 1938 and recalls his experience in his memoirs. He took a streetcar on November 10th to see what, if anything remained of the synagogue his family had attended for years. He was overwhelmed by emotions as he saw it burning, but feared to linger too long because he witnessed Jewish men being rounded up by the Gestapo. He spent the remainder of that day hidden in a storage tank until it was safe for him to return to his family.[23] As a consequence, Ernst became eager to flee Nazi Germany after Kristallnacht, even to such a faraway place as Shanghai.

Kristallnacht occurred in recently annexed Austria as well. Nini Karpel was a young woman in Vienna and later recounted to her daughter the destruction of her synagogue in Vienna and the violation of the Torah scrolls. She also witnessed the brutal murder of an old woman in the streets by members of the Hitler Youth who mercilessly trampled and kicked her to death and left her broken body in the street.[24] Nini and her family had begun the process of looking for a safe haven prior to Kristallnacht. Like many, they were on the waiting list for a U.S. visa. They had also considered Italy, where they had some connections. After Kristallnacht, the Karpel family felt that it would too dangerous to wait any longer. With the help of a sympathetic Aryan attorney, they were able to book passage on an ocean liner to Shanghai.[25]

German and Austrian Jews were desperate to flee the Reich after the November pogrom. Around the world however, countries closed their gates to the desperate refugees. While in Germany, the Nazis made it difficult for Jews to leave the country. Countless documents were required in order to obtain exit visas. The Nazis enacted a series of taxes upon those Jews who wished to leave. Bank accounts were blocked while property and valuables were stripped from all Jews. Jews wanting to leave Germany would suffer the injustice of a hostile bureaucracy and when at last allowed to leave, would do so penniless.[26]

The destitute state of German Jews was one of the key reasons why countries around the world denied them access. Nations such as the United States and Great Britain were convinced that these refugees would become a financial burden to their governments. With the world still in the midst of the Great Depression, most other countries responded in a similar fashion. When Ernst Heppner and his mother applied for visas to the United States they were denied because they knew no one in America who would sign an affidavit swearing that they would not become financial burdens on the government. Furthermore, the United States government required them to procure a “good conduct” certificate. The German police or the Gestapo, neither of which were likely to issue such a document to a Jew, at least not without a substantial bribe, were the only ones who issued this certificate.[27]

For the families and individuals who could find no other options, Shanghai presented them with their only viable destination. Shanghai required no visa, no passport, and no money. One only had to find a means of transportation and an exit visa from the Nazi government. Until September of 1939, most refugees traveled to Shanghai by ship. Often these voyages were on luxurious German, Italian, or Japanese ocean liners. Germany did not allow Jews to leave the country with any significant amounts of currency, however passengers of these ocean liners could purchase “on board money” from a travel agent while still in Germany. With these vouchers, many resourceful refugees purchased goods from the ship gift shops which could then be sold for cash upon arrival in Shanghai.

The voyage to Shanghai was one of anxiety and relief for the refugees. They were anxious and uncertain about life in their new home but were relieved to be out of Germany. What was also pleasantly surprising to most of the refugees was that during their voyage they were once again treated like normal people. The ship’s crews were polite and accommodating to the refugees. Sigmund Tobias recalls that after years of discriminatory persecution in Germany, he and his mother were initially suspicious of their good treatment aboard the Italian ocean liner the Conte Biancamano. They refused assistance with their luggage for fear it would be rummaged through or stolen, and initially kept to themselves aboard the ship. It was several days into the voyage before they felt completely at ease. [28]

Ships leaving Italy would stop first at Port Said at the mouth of the Suez Canal. Passengers were permitted to disembark the ship at this port. British officials however denied travelers with the red J stamped on their passports permission to leave the harbor area. Yet British authorities at this time controlled Palestine and denied Jewish refugees access to it. It was feared that because of Port Said’s proximity to Palestine, refugees would attempt to smuggle themselves there. From Port Said, the ships would travel through the Gulf of Aden, into the Arabian Sea, then into the Indian Ocean. They would typically stop in Bombay and what is now Sri Lanka. From there they would travel through the Strait of Malacca and then dock in the harbor in Singapore. After Singapore they would stop at Hong Kong, and finally arriving in Shanghai.[29]

Existing Jewish Communities in Shanghai

The German Jewish refugees that arrived in Shanghai between 1938 and 1941 were aided significantly by the existing Jewish community. Jews had been living in Shanghai since the mid-nineteenth century and by the mid 1930’s there were two distinct communities. The Sephardic Jewish community in Shanghai was the oldest Jewish group and consisted of Middle Eastern and Indian British subjects. This community included some of the wealthiest people in the world at the time, the Sassoons, Kadoories, and Hardoons. These families earned their early fortunes by trading tea, opium, silk and cotton and later moved into banking, insurance, construction, and real estate.[30] The Sephardic community, in particular Sir Victor Sassoon and Horace Kadoorie, donated large sums of money to the refugee community. The Sephardic had two large synagogues, Ohel Rachel and Beth Aharon, in Shanghai which were opened up to the refugees.[31] At times the synagogue even housed newly arrived refugees who had to find housing. Sassoon donated several buildings for the benefit of the refugee community. A thrift shop was opened in one of Sassoon’s buildings where the refugees bought and sold goods, and a refugee processing center was established in the large Embankment Building.[32]

Horace Kadoorie was responsible for the founding of the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association (SJYA) School which opened in 1940 in the Hongkew district of the city.[33] This school offered subsidized tuition to refugee children whose families could have not otherwise afforded to send their children to school. The school also supplied a lunch to students at no charge.

Work in Shanghai

The first refugees from Nazi Europe began to arrive in Shanghai in late 1938 soon after Kristallnacht. One of the first priorities of these refugees was to find employment. The labor force in Shanghai was strictly Chinese. Nini Karpel and her younger brother Willie immediately set out to look for jobs upon arrival in Shanghai. They quickly noticed that many of the help wanted signs in the city advertised specifically for Chinese labor only.[34] Ernst Heppner also noticed this occurring and explains in his memoir that it was more the result of the established Europeans in the foreign concessions of Shanghai rather than the Chinese community. Businesses in these areas of the city were under the jurisdiction of the elite Westerners who governed the area. “This was a society where Europeans were respected for their power or wealth, where manual labor on their part was unheard of. In the “Help Wanted” section of English-language newspapers, advertisements could occasionally be seen with the notation No Refugees wanted.”[35] German and Austrian Jewish refugees were pressured to avoid employment that consisted of manual labor by the existing Westerners in Shanghai. Work restrictions prohibiting manual labor only served to further refugee notions that they were to occupy a particular social class in Shanghai. Economically many of the refugees were no better off than the poor Chinese, but the existing Western community preferred them, as fellow Europeans, to refrain from engaging in such work that might call their socioeconomic status into question. Those refugees who were unable to find work that was consistent with their class standing often remained unemployed for the duration of their time in Shanghai. The established European community preferred to support these people with charity rather than to permit them to perform manual labor.

Perhaps the greatest example of the elites of Shanghai encouraging the refugees to maintain middle class employment was Sir Victor Sassoon’s 1939 donation of $150,000 to a fund that provided investment capital to refugees who desired to establish businesses in Shanghai.[36] Those refugees who received loans from this fund were expected to eventually pay back the money so that newer arrivals would also be able to benefit from this recourse.

Those who could not find work, whether as a result of labor restrictions, health reasons, or their age, relied completely on the various charity organizations that existed within the International Settlements and tended to live in group homes known as heimes. The conditions in the heimes were deplorable. None had flush toilets and only a few had running water.[37] They were extremely overcrowded with sometimes as many as twenty people in one small room. The conditions in the heimes suggest that anyone with means to leave them would likely do so. Ursula Bacon’s family lived in a heime for only one night before her father sold most of the family’s possessions to rent a small room with another German couple. Yet because manual labor jobs remained off limits to Europeans, many refugees who had no other assets remained unemployed and with no other option but to remain in the heimes.

Some refugees who were not able to find meaningful employment went into business for themselves. Those who did typically did so by partnering with a Chinese businessman. Some became quite successful by refugee standards. Ursula Bacon’s father, Martin Blomberg, partnered with an English speaking Chinese man to open The China Art Painting and Decorating Company. With the proceeds of this business, Blomberg was able to afford a small apartment in the French Concession, a private school for his daughter that was run by French nuns, and even Chinese house servants.[38] Blomberg’s success was halted abruptly however, when the Japanese forced all Jewish refugees into the Hongkew Ghetto in 1943.

Evelyn Pike Rubin’s parents, Benno and Rika Popielarz, had been the owners of a large company in Breslau, Germany. Upon arrival in Shanghai they immediately sought to go into business for themselves. They were soon able to establish an office machine maintenance business with the help of a Chinese man named Yih Ah Kung. The business eventually consisted of two offices, one in the French Concession and the other in the International Settlement.[39] Mr. and Mrs. Popielarz were able to afford the tuition at Shanghai Jewish School for their daughter Evelyn. They also were able to rent and furnish a multi-room apartment in the French Concession.[40] The family had a telephone installed in the apartment, which was unprecedented among the other Shanghailanders who have published memoirs. The family hired two Chinese servants and lived a seemingly normal middle-class life.

Most families were not as well off as the Poplielarz family. If employment was available, all the members of the family would work. It was common for the children even to work. Ursula Bacon, at the age of fifteen, found employment in the home of a wealthy and influential Chinese General. Ursula never knew for sure but she and her family suspected that the General was a member of the Chinese puppet government put into place by their Japanese occupiers. When she was first hired she was informed that she would be instructing the three sisters of the General in primarily English and secondarily French. The girls were actually young women and Ursula soon discovered that the three “sisters” were in fact concubines. Ursula was paid a substantial wage, especially for a teenager, and was given expensive gifts.[41] Her wages became a significant source of income for her family. Despite being middle class, families like the Blombergs, could not ignore that the necessity of putting their children to work was very much counter to the bourgeois lifestyle that they had enjoyed in Germany. Certainly some children of this group had worked in Germany, but never as a necessity. Nevertheless, Ursula was able to utilize her bourgeois education and fluency in English and French. Thus, the fact that Ursula had to work was counter to the ideals of the middle-class; yet the work she was able to obtain, however, was a direct result of her middle-class background.

Hans Gottheiner was another German Jewish youth who was forced to find work in Shanghai. His father had been an accountant in Breslau prior to coming to Shanghai and was able to find work selling clothing. Hans was only ten years old when he arrived in Shanghai with his Father, Jon, and his mother, Frieda in 1940. Hans soon found work repairing wheels on rickshaws and pedicabs. He was paid by the companies that owned the apparatus and not by the coolies who operated them. While his wages were meager, they were vital to the survival of the family.[42] “In those days we all had to work and even then there sometimes wasn’t enough money…If we had been able to stay in Germany without the Nazis, I would not have had to worry about money and working.”[43] Again, the fact that Hans had to work was a constant reminder to the Gottheiner family that they were indeed economically no longer part of the middle class.

The Jewish refugee community of Shanghai tried desperately to preserve their own sense of culture and identity. For the most part they only socialized with other Jewish refugees. Business and work however created the opportunity for the refugees to interact with the Chinese residents of Shanghai. Refugees worked for Chinese, Chinese worked for refugees and some refuges and Chinese went into business together as equal partners. In the cases where refugees worked for Chinese, the Chinese seemed to treat the refugees as equals. This was also the case when a refugee and a Chinese person went into business together. When a Chinese person worked for a refugee, however, it was often as a house servant of manual laborer. This caused the relationship between the refugee and the Chinese person to be one that was unequal, with the refugee holding a higher status than the Chinese. The refugees, who were commonly of the middle or upper classes in their native country, could not let go of that class distinction once in China. This was true even when the refugee was penniless upon arrival. The refugees sought relationships of equal social standing with those Chinese people who were of the middle or upper classes. Refugees have recalled their poor Chinese employees in their memoirs but in a way that suggests that these people were somehow below the European refugees who would often be just as poor.

Refugee Education

While many Jewish refugee children worked in Shanghai, education remained a significant part of their lives. There were several schools set up for European children within the international settlements that were attended by the German Jewish refugees. The Shanghai Jewish School was established in the late 19th century to educate the children of the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews that were already established in the area. The wealthiest of the Sephardic Jews typically sent their children to be educated abroad in elite British public schools.[44] German Jewish refugees who were able to afford the tuition such as the Popielarz were welcome to send their children to the Shanghai Jewish School; there were a number of scholarships available to less fortunate children.

There were also Catholic schools that accepted Jewish refugees. Ursula Bacon attended the Sisters of Sacre Coeur. The school provided free tuition to fifteen Jewish girls from the refugee community.[45] Nini Karpel’s young niece was educated by French nuns. Nini viewed this not as an attempt at charity however, but as an attempt at conversion. Ursula however never articulated a similar complaint. Her family was not as devout as Nini’s. She and her parents merely saw that she was receiving a good education.

The school that most German refugee children attended was the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association (SJYA) School. This school had been funded almost completely by the wealthy Sephardic Jew, Horace Kadoorie, and thus is commonly referred to as the Kadoorie School. The Kadoorie School was located in Hongkew so as to be easily accessible to the poorest refugee children. The school accepted tuition from those parents who could afford it, but all refugee children could attend free of charge if necessary. Classes at the school were held in English though the school offered classes in Hebrew and Jewish instruction as well.[46]

That fact that the European community saw education as being so vital for the refugee community reveals the idea that the children were of a particular socioeconomic class and recognition of this by the established European community. While the German and Austrian refugees were often destitute, they still maintained a status that emphasized bourgeois values. All of the schools open to refugee children followed a curriculum modeled after those in place in European countries, most typically the British public school curriculum. The refugee children did not attend vocational schools as did the children of the poor Russian community in Shanghai.[47] The German Jewish refugee children were being prepared to enter middle class professional life by learning mathematics, writing, foreign languages, and history. Schools also served the purpose of occupying the children’s time during the days, but the Shanghai schools were also well respected for their high educational standards.[48]

Interaction with the Chinese

The German Jewish refugee community had limited interaction with the vast majority of local Chinese residents. They lived together in the Hongkew district and on some occasions worked together; however, the average German refugee was likely to know perhaps one or two Chinese people. It was still common though, for many refugees to have had virtually no personal contact with a Chinese individual. English or Pidgin English was the language of commerce in Shanghai and became the common language between the refugees and the Chinese. Few German refugees ever bothered to learn more than a smattering of Chinese, and it is apparent that the Chinese residents never picked up any German. Refugees who already had a good grasp of English were definitely at an advantage in the job market.

Memoirs from surviving Shanghailanders often recall close relationships between themselves or their family member and a Chinese resident. In all cases, the Chinese person that is described is of either middle or upper class standing. Hannelore Heinemann Headley recalls that her father Heinz Heinemann rented a retail space with a Chinese business partner. Heinemann sold books in his half of the space while the Chinese man, Mr. Tsao, sold art and rare Chinese curios in the other half. Mr. Tsao and Mr. Heinemann developed a strong business relationship. Heinemann’s daughter fondly recalls Mr. Tsao as a kind man, but also as a man of wealth and education. “Mr. Tsao… was a wonderful man, well-educated, and held in high esteem…”[49] Hannelore makes no mention in her memoirs whether her father and Mr. Tsao maintained a social relationship outside of the business. It is likely that any relationship that the two may have had would not have been observed by Hannelore who was indeed very young at this time, only five years old. The business relationship between Heinz and Mr. Tsao was cut short by the Japanese in 1943 when they forced all Jewish refugee families to move inside a designated area. The shop was closed and their relationship ended. This is typical of many of the relationships between Jewish refugees and Chinese businessmen and does not necessarily indicate that Mr. Tsao and Heinz Hannelore were not friends on a social level.

Ernst Heppner worked for a time in a Chinese owned bookstore. Most of his coworkers at the store were Chinese. He developed a friendship with one coworker in particular, Liu. Liu was the bookkeeper for the store and was intrigued with Heppner. “…He queried me about my experiences growing up in the Third Reich…he would not stop asking questions about Europe and Germany, the problems involving the Nazis and Jews, and living in the Western world.”[50] Heppner and Liu spent time together outside of work. Heppner was invited once to Liu’s home in the old Chinese city to have dinner with his family. Heppner seems to remember the evening as pleasant and is thankful of the opportunity he had to be able to have close relationships with the Chinese.[51]

Heppner would later go into business with a Chinese businessman. Together Heppner and Lee started a typewriter repair business. Lee bankrolled the venture and became a silent partner. There is no mention in Heppner’s memoir of a social relationship developing with Lee as one had with Liu at the bookstore. Lee is described by Heppner as an elderly man while the impression is given that Liu was a younger man, perhaps near Heppner’s own age, as he is described as living with his parents...

The memoir of Ursula Bacon offers a unique perspective into the ways that Jewish refugees interacted with the Chinese. Her father, Martin Blomberg, had the opportunity to work closely with the Chinese, while Ursula developed a strong relationship with the three young women she tutored.

Martin Blomberg went into business with an English speaking Chinese man named Mr. Yung. Mr. Yung was a well educated businessman who was relatively well off compared with much of the Chinese population. It is very likely that Blomberg was able to identify with Mr. Yung as a fellow member of the middle-class. This allowed Blomberg and Yung to develop an even-handed business relationship in which Blomberg handled most of the finances and Yung secured the majority of the contracts and was responsible for hiring the coolies who performed the actual labor. Neither of the two men ever performed any manual labor but instead acted as management. The business became quite successful by painting the inside of luxury hotels, gambling houses, brothels and opium dens.[52] Blomberg respected his partner Mr. Yung and seemed to have complete trust in his business decisions. Mr. Yung was also trusted enough to care for the family’s only child, Ursula. Often she would accompany him on his sales calls; in this way she became familiarized with the brothels, gambling houses and opium dens of Shanghai. Mr. Blomberg was fully aware of what his daughter would be exposed to, yet he seemed to have trusted his business partner with her safekeeping.

Blomberg trusted and respected his business partner but often showed a blatant disdain for the coolie workers he employed. He was appalled by their work ethic. “Mr. Yung had more than sixty coolies to supervise. But as Vati said, only thirty percent of them worked a full day. The others stood around, watched, chatted, steadied ladders and drank hot tea…”[53] Blomberg’s comments about the coolies are representative of the contempt and stereotypes held by many in the middle-class for members of the poor working classes. Blomberg demonstrated no prejudice toward the coolies because they were Chinese. The relationship that Blomberg had with each of them was one of manager and laborer. Blomberg was mainly concerned that the work ethic of the coolies was not beneficial to the bottom line.

Certainly Hans Gottheiner came into contact with many Chinese people during his work repairing wheels on rickshaws and pedicabs.[54] In this particular job, Hans was exposed to two distinct social groups of Chinese people. He was technically employed by a Chinese-owned bicycle shop that owned many of the rickshaws and pedicabs that were operated in Shanghai. These people were reasonably well-off financially and may have spoken some English, perhaps at least Pidgin English. The coolies that brought the rickshaws and pedicabs in for repair came from the lowest group in the Shanghai social hierarchy. It is unlikely that any of them spoke even a few words of English. Despite their close proximity, Hans and the coolies tended to ignore each other. They only communicated on the most basic level and only when necessary. As a child, Hans was able to work at a job that may have otherwise been unacceptable for a European adult. While not performing menial labor like the coolies, he was working in an entirely Chinese environment. The owners, employees, and customers were Chinese. Surely an adult European working at this same job would be a blow to the sense of white superiority that the European elite class sought to maintain in Shanghai.

Refugees who were receptive to social interaction with the Chinese, were careful to maintain relationships with those Chinese who were of similar social standing. Heppner’s relationship with the bookkeeper, Heinemann’s business partnership with the shopkeeper, and Blombergs friendship and working relationship with the entrepreneur demonstrate that refugees were able to interact and relate with the Chinese based on a common sense of class standing. In these instances there seemed to no racism displayed by the refugees toward the Chinese of the middle and upper classes. Similarly, negative comments made toward the poor Chinese are more of an identification of a class sensibility than a racial one. Sigmund Tobias’s father for example refused to have house keys made in Hongkew. He expressed concern that the poor Chinese who worked there would make copies of his keys and rob their home.[55] When the Blombergs moved into the Hongkew ghetto in 1943, they were wary of the coolies who carried their belongings getting too far ahead of them. “We were careful not to let the coolies charge off on their own; we would have never seen our things again.”[56] The ideas held by Mr. Tobias and the Blombergs were not directed toward Chinese people in general, as their attitudes toward their Chinese business partners indicate. They were more specifically targeted at the poor Chinese.

Prior to 1943, those who did find employment or went into business for themselves typically worked in the French Concession or the International Settlement. It was possible for the refugees to work in Japanese controlled Honkgew before 1943, however because it was the poorest section of the International Settlement, work was less available and wages were lower there. It was not considered safe for Europeans to enter, not to mention work, in the Chinese districts of the city which were outside the control of the western powers. Arriving refugees were warned that once a European entered these forbidden parts of the city, it was likely that they would never be heard from again. Ursula Bacon recalls in her memoir that the “…huge Chinese Quarter was off limits, unless of course a person wanted to vanish off the face of the earth.”[57] While there is no evidence that shows that any refugee or European for that matter ever went missing in the Chinese Quarter, this trepidation suggests a greater fear of an unfamiliar society. In the International Settlements the refugees were exposed to a system of order and law that was at least familiar to what they were accustomed to. Often the Chinese system of law was referred to as “backward” by Europeans.[58] Moreover, the Europeans already in Shanghai sought to emphasize and perpetuate this segregation.

Cultural Life

The refugees created a community that mirrored as much as possible their lives in Europe before the Nazis came to power. The International Settlement had movie theaters and often refugees would spend their last bit of money to purchase the few hours of escape that the movies provided.[59] There were at least three theaters in Hongkew that showed American films prior to 1941.[60]

Besides theaters, the refugee community established their own unique forms of entertainment in Shanghai. Many performers and artists who had been famous in Germany came to find refuge in Shanghai. Martin Blomberg was skeptical of the quality of the performances being held in Hongkew and was reluctant to go to a particular operetta that his wife wanted to see. He had seen the same operetta performed years before in Berlin and Vienna and was sure that nothing produced in Shanghai could possibly compare. He was pleasantly surprised when he discovered that many of the performers he had watched years ago were now performing in Shanghai. “We were the last to leave and took along the gift of having witnessed a fine performance- not in Berlin, not in Breslau or Vienna, but in a half-bombed-out, Japanese occupied, miserable suburb of Shanghai, China.”[61] Ursula’s mother considered enjoying music in the midst of impoverished Shanghai as a sort of reclaiming of her identity from the Nazis. The Nazis had for years slowly stripped the bourgeois German identity from the Jewish people. Jews were restricted from performing in and even attending operas, symphonies, and ballets. In Shanghai, the same place Adolf Eichmann had said was “A good place to send you Jews to die,” the Jews were able to survive and their culture was sustained.[62] Ursula’s mother and many other Shanghai Jews viewed the establishment of theater, art and music in Shanghai as a way of triumphing over the Nazis. And, importantly, these practices were not about being Jewish, but about being middle-class. It seems the refugees wanted to remind themselves most of their social background rather than their religious or ethnic one.

Refugees also relied partly on their cultural entertainment as a way to raise funds for the community. Concerts were held as fundraisers in which refugees would perform for other refugees.[63] Proceeds from these events were meager indeed, but the occasions provided opportunities for the refugees to raise funds for their community in a manner which was consistent with their class identity and which resonated with their pre-Nazi, pre-refugee lives.

Newspapers were also established by the refugees while in Shanghai. These papers which included the Shanghai Jewish Chronicle, The Shanghai Echo, and Die Gelbe Post which were printed in German and included political and cultural news concerning Shanghai and abroad.[64] Only the Shanghai Jewish Chronicle was permitted to continue publication after the Japanese occupied all of Shanghai in December of 1941. The refugee newspapers in Shanghai are indicative of a particularly middle class society as well. Newspapers suggest a highly literate and educated community. That the content of the periodicals is reported to be primarily politics and culture with little religious reference also suggests the secular middle class ideals of the community.


The majority of the German and Austrian Jewish population was highly assimilated prior to the rise of Nazism in Germany. Many Jews had intermarried with non-Jews or had become non-observant.[65] Most of the families detailed in recently published memoirs were fairly observant however. Sigmund Tobias certainly represents the extreme. His family was more observant than the others, but as a boy in Shanghai, Sigmund’s religiosity became more orthodox. Unhappy at the Kadoorie School, Sigmund pleaded to his parents for permission to attend the Mirrer Yeshiva which had been established in China after its expulsion first from Poland, then later from Lithuania.[66] His mother was against her son joining the Yeshiva. She argued that yeshiva students were always poor. They could not work and had to rely on the charity of others, and that was not the life she had envisioned for her son.[67] Despite his parent’s disapproval, Sigmund attended the Mirrer Yeshiva until it was moved to New York after the war. The leaders of the school convinced Sigmund that all the normal child’s play that had occupied his leisure time in the past was sin. They told him that every waking moment must be spent studying. Sigmund was told that he could not think about girls or even be seen in the company of a member of the opposite sex outside of the family.[68] Sigmund’s increased sense of devoutness actually began to somewhat annoy his parents. Sigmund had been taught at the Yeshiva that men were not permitted to walk a distance of more than four feet without proper head covering. This was a constant argument between Sigmund and his father who often walked around without any head covering at all.[69]

While several German Jewish boys joined the Yeshiva while it was in Shanghai, most of Sigmund’s peers were Eastern Europeans. Eastern European Jews were much less assimilated than German Jews and consisted of people who were seen as lower socioeconomic class by German Jews. The Eastern European Jews, however often looked down upon German Jews who they viewed as being too secular. The reaction of Sigmund’s parents to his desire to become a Yeshiva student is perhaps indicative of their perceived identity as middle-class first and Jewish second. They did not want their son to be poor, even if he was devoting himself to God.

Ursula Bacon’s parents seemed only mildly concerned about their daughter’s religious development. Ursula was sent to a Catholic school where she attended mass and prayed to the rosary. Speaking of his daughter’s religious identity, Martin Blomberg said to his wife, “She’ll either be confused, which I doubt, or she will learn that more than one road leads to Rome, and more than one ideology leads to God. If she does no more than live by the Ten Commandments, she’ll turn out alright.”[70] Martin Blomberg and his wife are definitely examples of secular Jews in Shanghai.

There are few references in Ursula’s memoir that concern religion. Only the family’s observance of Passover is recounted in great detail. Even the observance of this High Holy Day seems to more out of cultural and familial tradition that religious duty. This sense of tradition rather than religious devoutness is a common theme among the memoirs. Ernst Heppner’s discussion of religion is limited to its importance in family ceremonies such as marriages, divorces, and funerals. Ernst was married in Shanghai in October of 1944. The ceremony was performed by a rabbi in the auditorium of the Kadoorie School. Other than the fact that a rabbi officiated, no other mention of religion or God is made in association with this formative event.

Nini Karpel recalled to her daughter the effect that other religious groups particularly Catholics, had had on the Jewish community. There were some Jewish parents who surrendered their young children to the nuns out of fear that they would not be able to support them. Nini felt that the nuns encouraged this idea because they wanted to convert as many Jews as possible.[71] Nini had even once been approached by a nun who offered her unlimited food for herself and her family in exchange for her conversion to the Catholic faith. The nun said to her “Think of your elderly mother and of your sister’s child, if not just for yourself. Life would be so much easier for you all if you would just extricate yourself from the blot of sin and heresy that has been the cause of all your hardship.”[72] Nini remained wary of the Catholic missionaries in Shanghai for the remainder of her time in the city.

The Jewish community represented in the memoirs of the survivors seemed overwhelmingly secular. Yes they were Jewish; that is the reason they were even in Shanghai. This sense of being Jewish in many ways seems only to be in a cultural sense. The memoirs examined, give little indication of the religious importance of the major holidays such as Passover, Yom Kippur, and Hanukah. In fact Christian holidays were recognized in several households. Hannelore Heimemann recalls performing in a Christmas play at her school and baking Christmas cookies with her mother.[73] Jewish holidays appear to have been observed more out a sense of cultural tradition rather than religious obligation. Marriages and funerals continued to be presided over by rabbis because it was tradition. Yet these Jewish refugees of Shanghai seemed more consumed with maintaining and preserving their sense of middle-class identity than their religious one.


The Jews who fled to Shanghai in order to escape the Nazis had largely left behind middle class careers and lifestyles. Upon arrival in Shanghai, most were destitute and forced to sell their belongings or rely upon charity in order to survive. Soon after arriving in Shanghai the Jewish refugees began to rely upon the middle-class values that they had developed in Germany. These middle-class values are evident in the ways that employment, education, religion, and cultural entertainment fit into their daily struggle as refugees. While economically no longer middle-class, they survived the refugee experience primarily through an emphasis on their perceived middle-class identity rather than their religious or ethnic one.

At the end of the war, Shanghai was occupied by American Soldiers. Substantial aid was given to the refugees, and many came to work for the U.S. military while awaiting arrangements to leave China. In the late 1940s, most Jewish refugees eventually gained admittance to countries such as Israel, Canada, the United States, Australia, and South Africa. By 1949 when the Chinese communists took control, of the country only a few Jews remained in Shanghai.[74] Emigration to one of the desired countries was remained a challenge however. Among the Jewish refugees who by 1949 had found no place to emigrate, 228 accepted travel visas for the United States. Upon arrival in California, these people were boarded in sealed railcars that took them to New York where they were loaded on ships back to Europe.[75]

Ernst Heppner and what remained of his family left Shanghai in 1947 and came to the United States with less than $100 in total. Heppner had no desire to reestablish himself in Europe. He wanted to live an independent life but had fears about what life would be like in the United States. “…the closer we came to New York, the more apprehensive I grew. I would not share my worries with Illo, my gnawing fears of the uncertainties of earning a livelihood. How would I find a job and what kind of a job? Would I be a laborer for the rest of my life?”[76] In the United States, Heppner was concerned that he would not be able to maintain the class status that he had identified with first in Germany and then in Shanghai. In New York, he was able to become a typewriter technician and within four years reached “the top” of his profession.[77] In 1951, he and his wife and young daughter moved to settle permanently in the mid-west where he found work as a business consultant.

Ursula Bacon and her family left Shanghai in were able to leave Shanghai in 1947 and settled in Denver. Her father, Martin Blomberg worked at the Denver Post until he retired at the age of seventy-four. Ursula eventually married and had two children. As recently as 2002, she worked as a keynote speaker at women’s conferences and other educational events.[78] The Blomberg family was able to quickly establish themselves in the United States, placing themselves within the educated middle class. Because they were able to preserve their middle class identity in Shanghai, their transition in the United States facilitated.

In 1948 Sigmund Tobias left Shanghai alone and traveled to New York. His parents were not able to obtain visas until a year later. The Mirrer Yeshiva had reestablished itself in Brooklyn, but Sigmund had no desire to rejoin.[79] Instead he enrolled himself in a high school in Brooklyn and eventually worked his way through college at City College of New York and Columbia University. He earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and became a professor.

Hans Gottheiner and his parents left Shanghai in 1949. His older brother was required to remain longer because the United States would not grant his a visa due to his case of tuberculosis. The Gottheiners settled in the San Francisco Bay area. Hans eventually married and became the owner of a clock shop in San Jose. His older brother Peter became a physical therapist in Marin County.[80]

By maintaining their class identity, the Jewish refugees of Shanghai were able to establish themselves perhaps more easily in the various countries in which they settled. All of those under study here managed to reenter middle class life in their new homes with little difficulty. In Shanghai they had been able to preserve the values and ideals of the middle class despite no longer having the economic means to live a bourgeois lifestyle. In the United States, these former refugees were able to maintain the ideals and values they had maintained throughout their ordeal in Shanghai while regaining the economic situation they had known in Germany. Their experience as refugees in Shanghai served as a bridge between their former middle class lives in Germany and their new middle class lives in the United States after the war. Maintaining, as best they could, a bourgeois lifestyle in Shanghai not only facilitated their daily struggle for survival, but also the preservation of their own sense of self.



[1] Hans Gottheiner, interviewed by author, August 2004.

[2] David Kranzler, Japanese Nazis & Jews: the Jewish refugee Community of Shanghai 1938-1945, (New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1976), 20.

[3] Ibid, 27, 30, 31.

[4] Marcia Reynders Ristaino, Port of Last Resort: The Diaspora Communities of Shanghai, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), xiii.

[5] Kranzler, 27, 28.

[6] Ibid, 97.

[7] Reynders Ristaino, 119.

[8] Kranzler, 478.

[9] Ibid, 478.

[10] Donald McKale, “The Nazi Party in the Far East,” Journal of Contemporary History 12 (1977): 303.

[11] Ibid, 295.

[12] Ibid 292.

[13] Reynders Ristaino, 8.

[14] Ibid, 9.

[15] Ibid, 9.

[16] Ibid, 11.

[17] Ernst G. Heppner, Shanghai Refuge: Memoir of the World War II Jewish Ghetto, (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), 38.

[18] Reynders Ristaino, 12.

[19] Marion A. Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 10.

[20] Walter Laqueur, Generation Exodus: The Fate of Young Jewish Refugees from Nazi Germany (Hanover, NH: Brandies University Press, 2001), 20.

[21] Marion A. Kaplan, 72, 73.

[22] Ibid 122.

[23] Heppner, 22, 23.

[24] Vivian Jeanette Kaplan, Ten Green Bottles: The True Story of One Family’s Journey From War-Torn Austria to the Ghettos of Shanghai, (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), 87, 88.

[25] Ibid, 93.

[26] Marion A. Kaplan, 131.

[27] Heppner, 25

[28] Sigmund Tobias, Strange Haven: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Shanghai, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 6.

[29] Heppner, 32.

[30] Reynders Ristaino, 22.

[31] Ibid, 26.

[32] Ibid, 102.

[33] Ibid, 122.

[34] Kaplan, 137.

[35] Heppner, 43.

[36] “Human Flotsam and Jetsam,” Israel’s Messenger, March 17, 1939

[37] Ursula Bacon, Shanghai Diary: A Young Girl’s Journey From Hitler’s Hate to War-Torn China, (M Press: Milwaukie, Oregon: 2004), 37

[38] Ibid, 58.

[39] Evelyn Rubin Pike, Ghetto Shanghai, (Shengold Publishers, Inc., New York: 1993), 78.

[40] Ibid, 88,89.

[41] Bacon, 148.

[42] Hans Gottheiner, interviewed by author, August 2004.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Reynders Ristaino, 24.

[45] Bacon, 65,66.

[46] Reynders Ristaino, 122.

[47] Ibid, 84.

[48] Ibid, 122.

[49] Hannelore Heinemann-Headley, Blond China Doll: A Shanghai Interlude 1939-1953, (St Catherine’s, Ontario: Triple H Publishing, 2004), 68.

[50] Heppner, 62.

[51] Ibid, 62.

[52] Bacon, 68.

[53] BaconIbid, 91.

[54] Hans Gottheiner, interviewed by author, August 2004.

[55] Tobias, 16.

[56] Bacon, 157.

[57] Ibid, 33.

[58] Reynders Ristaino, 10.

[59] Kaplan, 223.

[60] Tobias, 116.

[61] Bacon, 88.

[62] Kaplan, 94.

[63] “Refugees hold Concert at Embankment House in Aid of Milk Fund,” Israel’s Messenger, May 5, 1939.

[64] Kranzler, 365.

[65] Ibid, 26.

[66] Tobias, 47.

[67] Ibid, 47.

[68] Ibid, 57.

[69] Ibid, 70.

[70] Bacon, 66.

[71] Kaplan, 125,126.

[72] Ibid, 131.

[73] Heinemann-Headley, 99.

[74] Kranzler, 580.

[75] Ristaino, 260. Reynders Ristaino, 260.Of these 228, 192 immigrated to Israel, while 36 accepted repatriation to Austria.

[76] Heppner, 163.

[77] Ibid, 171.

[78] Bacon, 267.

[79] Tobias, 120.

[80] Gottheiner


Primary Documents

Bacon, Ursula. Shanghai Diary: A Young Girl’s Journey from Hitler’s Hate to War-Torn China. Milwaukie, OR: M Press, 2004.

Eisfelder, Horst. My Years in Shanghai and Nanking, 1938-1947. Melbourne: H. Eisfelder, 1992.

Heinemann-Headley, Hannelore. Blond China Doll: A Shanghai Interlude 1939-1953. St. Catherines, Ontario: Triple H Publishing, 2004.

Heppner, Ernest. Shanghai Refuge: A Memoir of the World War II Jewish Ghetto. Lincoln, NE.: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Gottheiner, Hans. Interviewed by Leah Gottheiner, August 2004.

Krasno, Rena. Strangers Always: A Jewish Family in Wartime Shanghai. Berkeley, CA :Pacific View Press, 1992.

Lincoln, Anna. Escape To China (1939-1948). New York: Maryland Books, 1982.

Rubin Pike, Evelyn. Ghetto Shanghai. New York: Shengold Publishing, 1993.

Tobias, Sigmund. Strange Haven: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Shanghai. Chicago: University of Illinois Publishing, 1999.

Primary Documents Periodicals

Barnett, Robert. “Shanghai’s Refugees Face Uncertainties.” Far Eastern Survey Vol. 8, No. 21 (1939): 251-253.

Cope, Elizabeth. “Displaced Europeans in Shanghai.” Far Eastern Survey Vol. 17, No. 23 (1948): 274-276.

Pelcovits, N.A. “European Refugees in Shanghai.” Far Eastern Survey Vol. 15, No. 21 (1946): 321-325.

Israel’s Messenger, 1933-1941

North China Herald, 1933-1941

Secondary sources

Esherich, Joseph W., ed. Remaking The Chinese City: Modernity and National Identity: 1900-1950. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999.

Fraiman, Sarah. “The Transformation Of Jewish Consciousness In Nazi Germany As Reflected In The German Jewish Journal Der Morgen, 1925-1938.” Modern Judaism 20 (2000): 41-59.

Kaplan, Marion A. Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life In Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Kaplan, Vivian Jeanette. Ten Green Bottles: The True Story of One Family’s Journey From War-Torn Austria to the Ghettos of Shanghai. St. Martin’s Press, 2004.

Kranzler, David. Japanese Nazis & Jews: The Jewish Refugee Community of Shanghai 1938-1945. New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1976.

Laqueur, Walter. Generation Exodus: The Fate of Young Jewish Refugees from Nazi Germany. Hanover, NH: Brandies University Press, 2000.

McKale, Donald. “The Nazi Party in the Far East, 1931-45.” Journal of Contemporary History 12 (1977): 291-311.

Reynders Ristaino, Marcia. Port of Last Resort: The Diaspora Communities of Shanghai. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.

Ross, Alex. Escape To Shanghai: A Jewish Community in Shanghai. Free Press, 1993.

Sergeant, Harriet. Shanghai: Collision Point of Cultures 1918/1939. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1990.

Tokayer, Marvin, and Mary Swartz. The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During World war II. New York: Paddington Press LTD, 1979.

Wen-hsin Yeh., ed. Wartime Shanghai. New York: Routledge, 1998.


Appendix A