The story of the 20.000 Jews from Central Europe who took refuge in Shanghai in 1938 to 1939 has been documented quite a number of times in the last decade. Although it was not so well spread when I started this blog, it is now recognized in and out of Shanghai, including in the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum in Hong Kou district.
What is less well known is how they all left China, while some of them remained in Shanghai until the early 50’s. A number of books have been written by some of the people who went through it all, including the excellent “Stateless in Shanghai” from my friend Liliane Willens. However, they tend to focus on individual stories. It also seem that people went on with their new life and wanted to put it all away, until many years later when some wrote their own story.
This is where the recent article from Jewish News of Northern California is interesting. It shows how a place like San Francisco organized a welcoming effort for those refugees after leaving Shanghai. Another interesting point is that a number of those people stayed in San Francisco, and recreated a little bit of Shanghai way of life there, just like they tried to recreate some of their European life a few years before in Shanghai. In that case, it was not only individuals that moved, but a whole community that recreated itself and continued to exist many years later carrying the Shanghai spirit with them, long after having left the city.