Jewish Refugees Remembered

Professor Peter Loewenberg of UCLA holds a picture of himself as a young child living in Shanghai at the opening celebration of "Jewish Refugees in Shanghai" on October 27, 2013.

From 1933 to 1941, Shanghai became a modern-day “Noah’s Ark” accepting some 18,000 Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust in Europe. Most were from Germany and Austria, but the refugees also included students of the famed Mir Yeshiva, the only yeshiva in occupied Europe to survive the Holocaust. In the “Designated Area for Stateless Refugees” in Tilanqiao area of Shanghai, Jewish refugees lived harmoniously with local Chinese, overcoming numerous difficulties together.

Conditions in the impoverished Hongkou District were harsh: 10 per room, nearstarvation, disastrous sanitation and scant employment. With the aid of Iraqi Jews living in Shanghai, and later of Russian Jewish locals and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, most of the Jewish refugees managed to survive and many went on to have remarkable lives. Holocaust historian David Kranzler called it the “Miracle of Shanghai.”

The exhibition, Jewish Refugees in Shanghai (1933-1941), brings together for the first time photos, personal stories and artifacts from Shanghai’s Jewish Refugee Museum, located in the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue in the Tilanqiao Historic Area. Former “Shanghailanders” now living in Southern California also loaned memorabilia for display at the October 27th opening celebration. A satellite exhibit at UCLA’s Young Research Library features related items from the library’s collection.

An international conference on Shanghai culture, held on October 27, 2013, put this extraordinary exhibition in context. Speakers explored models for promoting cross-cultural understanding and exchanges, using the Shanghai experience prior to 1949 as a critical foundation. Panelists focused on the music, literature, visual arts and urban culture of the 1920s, 30s and 40s and the interchange between Chinese and Western elements.

Since its opening at UCLA, the Jewish Refugees in Shanghai exhibition has traveled to six different American universities and even to the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The exhibition is scheduled to travel to three additional universities during the 2015-2016 academic year.

See photos of the opening celebration and symposium.

See the television feature that aired on JLTV.

See video footage of the conference.

SYMPOSIUM SCHEDULE “Cosmopolitan Shanghai”

SESSION 1  11 AM    COSMOPOLITAN SOUNDS AND JEWISH MUSIC IN PRE-1949 SHANGHAI
LUO QIN (Shanghai Conservatory of Music) Paper read by Helen Rees Shanghai as the Cradle of Chinese Modern Musical Culture TANG YATING (Shanghai Conservatory of Music) Reconstructing the Vanished Musical Life of the Shanghai Jewish Diaspora Community
LI QI (UCLA) A Jewish Composer’s Devotion to Chinese Music in 1930s Shanghai: Introducing Aaron Avshalomov and his Compositions
Moderator: HELEN REES (UCLA) 

1PM LUNCH BREAK

SESSION 2  2PM TRANSNATIONAL SHANGHAI, MODERN METROPOLIS
YOMI BRAESTER (University of Washington) "The City beyond the Pale: Migrants and the Urban Cosmopolitan Fantasy in Film" BRYNA GOODMAN (University of Oregon) "News and Capital in Shanghai: Cosmopolitan and National Imaginaries"
WEN-HSIN YEH (UC Berkeley) "Shanghai at War: Violence and the Making of a Chinese Metropolis"
DAVID N. MYERS (UCLA) Concluding Thoughts
Moderator: R. BIN WONG (UCLA)

SESSION 3 4:30PM  OPENING CELEBRATION
Welcome
RABBI CHAIM SEIDLER-FELLER (UCLA Hillel)
TODD PRESNER (UCLA)

Remarks
THE HONORABLE LIU JIAN (Consul General of China)
CHEN JIAN (Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum)
DAVID SCHABERG (UCLA)

Speakers
YUNXIANG YAN (UCLA) Setting the Chinese Stage
C. CINDY FAN (UCLA) The Jewish Refugees in Shanghai (1933-1941) Exhibition and UCLA
STEVE HOCHSTADT (Illinois College) Jews and Chinese in Shanghai 

Personal Recollection Roundtable
PETER LOEWENBERG (UCLA) Shanghailander 1933-1937
WILLIAM HANT (UCLA) Shanghailander 1939-1947

Sponsors: Center for Chinese Studies, Confucius Institute, Department of History, Ethnomusicology, UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library, Germanic Languages, UCLA Hillel. Dortort Center for Creativity at UCLA Hillel, Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office of Hongkou District. Facing History and Ourselves, The Goldrich Family Foundation, Stephen O. Lesser, The "1939" Club, Natalie Limonick Fund in Memory of Miriam Nisell Rose, The German Consulate General in Los Angeles.

See more photos of the opening celebration and symposium.