Immigration to Shanghai

German and Austrian Jews first trickled into Shanghai after the beginning of Nazi persecution of Jews in 1933. Following the 1938 violence of Kristallnacht, the steadily increasing wave of emigration turned to mass flight. 

Jewish Refugees disembarking in Shanghai. Source: Wikimedia Commons

During the 1930s, Nazi policy encouraged Jewish emigration from Germany, and a ship’s passage enabled a person to gain release, even from a concentration camp. In total, an estimated 17,000 Jews came to Shanghai from Germany and Austria.

At first, Shanghai seemed an unlikely refuge; but for many, as it became clear that most countries in the world were limiting or denying entry to Jews, it became the only choice. Until August 1939, no visas were required for entering Shanghai. 

This is why the Weinblum family elected to go there. As the Holocaust raged in Europe, Shanghai served as a temporary haven for Weinblum, his family, and their Torah. For the next 8 years, the Torah of Forst (Lausitz) was kept in a small makeshift sanctuary, where the Jews of Shanghai prayed.

Jewish newspapers in Shanghai during the war. Source: Leo Baeck Institute

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