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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ho Feng Shan

 I vaguely knew about this man before I went to Shanghai, because my spouse has two great uncles who were able to escape Austria in World War II by going to Shanghai.
After Austria’s annexation to Nazi Germany in March 1938, the 185,000 Jews there were subjected to what amounted to terrorism, which resulted in intense pressure to leave the country. In order to do so, the Nazis required that Jews have entry visas or boat tickets to another country. However, the majority of the world’s nations refused to budge from their restrictive immigration policies.
Unlike his fellow-diplomats, Ho Feng-Shan, who served as the Chinese consul-general in Vienna during 1938-1940, issued visas to Shanghai to all requesting them, even to those wishing to travel elsewhere but needing a visa to leave Nazi Germany.
Many of those helped by Ho did indeed reach Shanghai, either by boat from Italy or overland via the Soviet Union. Many others made use of their visas to reach alternate destinations, including Palestine, the Philippines, and elsewhere....
Ho Feng Shan refused to abide by the instructions of his superior, Chen Jie, the Chinese ambassador in Berlin, who ordered him to not issue visas. Chen Jie, hoping to cement closer ties between China and Germany, wanted to be compliant with the Germans.  That didn't work well for them anyway, as China had already been invaded by Germany's ally, Japan.
While Austrian Jews were well treated in China, it wasn't the ultimate landing place for these refugees, because when Mao ascended to power, they were all kicked out.  Not because they were Jewish but because they weren't Chinese.

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