00:00 to 07:00
Level 1, 151 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, NSW, Australia
FROM 21-04-15 TO 20-05-15
Time & Date: 10am-1pm & 2-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday, 21 April- 20 May, 2015 (Except 1 May and Australian Public Holidays)
Venue: China Cultural Centre in Sydney
In the 1930s and the 1940s, millions of European Jews suffered under the persecution of the Nazis. While many countries closed their doors to Jewish refugees, the Chinese city of Shanghai provided them with a safe haven. In 1933, Jewish refugees began to escape to Shanghai from Germany, and later from other Nazi-occupied and allied countries. Between 1933 and 1941 it is estimated that at least 18,000 Jews came to Shanghai, and the influx only ended when Shanghai was cut off from the outside world by the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
The Nazis and their allies not only attempted to annihilate European Jews, but also menaced Jewish communities around the world, including those in China. In July 1942, Colonel Josef Albert Meisinger, chief representative of the Gestapo in Japan, travelled to Shanghai and proposed the idea of the “Final Solution” to the Japanese authorities. Although his request was not put into effect, the Japanese authorities proclaimed a Designated Area for Stateless Refugees in Hongkou District (formerly Hongkew), and forced all Jewish refugees into this area. The pressure from Nazi Germany and the change in Japanese policy put the Jewish community in Shanghai in great danger. Ultimately, however, almost all the Jewish refugees in Shanghai survived. After the war, most of them went to the United States, Australia, Israel and Canada. The tolerance and help of the Chinese people undoubtedly played an important role in their survival.
The history of Jewish refugees in Shanghai is fascinating. Chinese people and Jewish refugees found themselves fighting together against Fascism after Nazi-allied Japan invaded China. Their struggle demonstrated the essential dignity of the human race as they supported each other through adversity. Their experiences helped to create a special emotional bond between the Chinese and Jewish peoples.
In 2007, funded by the Hongkou District People’s Government, the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue was renovated and turned into the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The museum, which includes an abundance of historical records, records the history of the Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Since 2007 it has welcomed more than 200,000 visitors from 96 countries and regions.
From its accumulated materials and stories, the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum has put together a travelling exhibition, Jewish Refugees and Shanghai, which toured Germany in 2011, Israel in 2012 and the United States in 2013.
2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the World Anti-fascist War. And the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum has planned and designed this traveling exhibition in Australia for this special occasion. We hope to take this opportunity to review this particular episode of history together with the former Shanghai Jewish refugees, their families and the friends in Australia who are interested in this history.
This is an exhibition about love and understanding. It gives an insight into a little-known corner of history, and also serves as a stark warning against the twin dangers of extremism and intolerance.
If you are interested in Jewish history and culture, check out the Sydney Jewish Museum:
The Sydney Jewish Museum
Founded in 1992, the Sydney Jewish Museum is the fulfillment of a vision by Sydney Survivors, who wished to memorialise the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, and in the hope that no such genocide was ever repeated.
A little over twenty three years later, the Museum has become an active and internationally recognised historic and cultural institution, dedicated to promoting
respect, challenging bias and fostering understanding of the Jewish faith and culture. Education is central to the Museum’s mission, with 45,000 school students,
professionals, and members of the wider community participating in its first rate
education and public programs every year.
In addition to permanent displays pertaining to the Holocaust, Judaica, Australian Jewish and miltary history, the Museum also stages a number of temporary exhibitions, which encourage visitors to engage, connect and explore aspects of the Jewish experience not covered in the permanent collection.
The Museum is also a place for commemoration and remembrance, honouring the
memories of those who have lost their lives in the Holocaust and World Wars through reflective ceremonies and its own memorials.
Housed in Darlinghurst’s historic Maccabean Hall, the Sydney Jewish Museum is a
pluralist and apolitical community, which welcomes visitors of all religions, ages and backgrounds. Take the opportunity to meet our Holocaust Survivor Guides, and view what has been described by many as a “Museum with a special soul”.