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Yad Vashem This Month in Holocaust History
March 1949, Immigrants from Shanghai arrive in Israel

March 1949

Immigrants from Shanghai arrive in Israel

In the second half of 1937, Japan invaded and occupied Shanghai, China. From December 1938, Japan opened Shanghai’s doors to Jews, with no visa requirement, despite the efforts of the USA, Britain and France to limit their entry. In the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and Austria in November 1938, the stream of Jewish refugees to Shanghai gained momentum. At its peak, the number of Jewish refugees in Shanghai reached 17,000. These Jews received assistance and support from the Jewish community in Shanghai, most of whose members had come from Russia, while a minority came from Baghdad in the 19th century. With the aid of the Jewish community and the Joint Distribution Committee, the refugees established social, educational, religious and cultural institutions that helped to partially recreate their former lifestyles. A few even succeeded in setting up factories and businesses. Bowing to Nazi pressure, the Japanese established a ghetto for Shanghai’s Jews in February 1943, but the conditions there were not as bad as the deplorable conditions in the ghettos of Europe. From December 1943, funds once again reached the Jews from the USA, and the refugees’ situation improved. After the war, the Jews emigrated from Shanghai to Israel or America.

For more information about the Jews in Shanghai, click here.

Yad Vashem Photo Archives 5290/20