The Jews of Shanghai

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Before World War Two, Shanghai was China's largest port and a city with over 4 million people including 100,000 foreigners. It was the only place in the world where one could land without a visa; consequently it became a haven for Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Poland.

In the weeks that followed Kristallnacht, 9-10 November 1938, many Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai. They were helped by the Jewish community already living in the city and housed in five refugee camps.

In these camps the refugees were able to develop a social, religious, and cultural life. They set up schools, theatres, newspapers and religious institutions.

In February 1943 the Germans forced the Japanese to establish a ghetto in which to concentrate the Jews of Shanghai. Despite the conditions being poor, they were not as bad as those of the European ghettos.

After liberation in 1945, most of the refugees left Shanghai for Palestine or emigrated to other Western countries.