Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Shanghai Museum Opens "Shanghai’s List" Memorial

The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum’s memorial lists the names of the 13,732 Jews who found a home in China

By: Peter Herriman & Daniel Koren

Published: September 3rd, 2014 in News » World

Shanghai Museum Opens "Shanghai's List" Memorial

On Wednesday, the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum revealed a memorial wall, listing the names of the 13,732 Jews who escaped Nazi persecution and were able to find refuge there.

Since Hitler rose to power in 1933 after being declared Chancellor of Germany, thousands of Jews attempted to escape Germany, but were seldom offered a place to rebuild their lives, as many nations shut their doors to them. Shanghai was one city were Jews were allowed to enter without a visa.

Throughout World War II (1939 – 1945), sources indicate that European Jews fled to Shanghai more than any other city in the world.

The new memorial wall stretches high, 111 feet, made of copper, and detailing the names of those Jews who found solace in China as so many of their loved ones were sent to the death camps. It features a sculpture designed by renowned Chinese artist He Ning, which depicts six allegorical figures representing faith, suffering, love, determination, light and hope.

Most of the names listed on the memorial were taken from a German book Exil Shanghai: 1938-1947, co-authored by 75-year-old Sonja Mühlberger, who herself was born in Shanghai to refugee parents in the 1930’s. Mühlberger’s been actively involved in the project from its inception. In a statement released by the Museum, she commented on the memorial, saying “My parents’ experiences in Shanghai were certainly not the easiest, but if they had not been exiled there, I wouldn’t even be alive today, let alone have the chance to tell this history.”

According to Chinese news agencies, many Shanghai residents had since forgotten the story until the museum opened in 2007 on the site of Shanghai’s old Ohel Moshe Synagogue, now in the Tilanqiao area of the city. Many refer to the list of refugees on the memorial as “Shanghai’s List,” a nod to the famous list of Jews to be saved drawn up by German industrialist Oskar Schindler.

This memorial brings an unlikely geographical location into a vast and historically significant subject. It also shows that in tough times, a country can still give refuge to those who are being persecuted.

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