Jewish Delegation Thanks Shanghai for WWII Refuge

Former refugees gather at city's Jewish museum and recount their childhood in a city that offered a safe haven from the Nazis.

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This vintage photograph, circa 1940, shows Jewish refugees arriving in Shanghai, then under Japanese occupation.Credit: AP

A delegation of Jewish refugees and their families arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday to show their gratitude to the city that took them in as refugees fleeing the Nazis.

The visitors, headed by Shanghai-born Rabbi Chaim Walkin who organized the trip, gathered at the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum. There, they shared their memories at a press conference with the museum's curator.

Between 1933 and June 22, 1941, roughly 20,000-25,000 Jewish refugees escaped Nazi persecution to Shanghai. Because of its extra-territorial status prior to Japanese occupation in 1941, Shanghai was one of the few places in the world that would accept Jewish refugees without requiring hard-to-get immigration visas.

Mickey Abraham from New York City, who was born in Shanghai in 1942, told China's Global Times that "Shanghai's people were very nice" to his family, "and they respected Jewish customs very much."

Chaya Small, another member of the delegation and Rabbi Walkin's sister, recounted her childhood years in the city. “I lived a normal life here. I went to school and shopping. I’m so grateful to the people of Shanghai who provided us a haven to live and continue our lifestyle and our family," she told the Shanghai Daily.