Time & Date: 6pm-7.30pm, Tuesday 28 April
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Fifteen years ago Andrew Jakubowicz found an old menorah, a Jewish candelabra, in an antique store on Fang bang Lu, in Shanghai. Its base held a music box, made in the nineteenth century in Europe, which played a Jewish New year song of liberation and retribution, Maoz Tzur.
Based on research into the experiences of seven Jewish families whose paths crossed in Shanghai in 1942 and who came to Sydney after the War, this talk explores the background, journeys and struggles for survival of Jewish refugees from Hungary, Austria, Poland and Germany who found refuge in Shanghai. From 1938 Shanghai, an international city operated under extra-territorial powers by a cross section of European powers, was one of the few places on the planet that provided refuge fro Jews fleeing the rise of Nazism.
At first this refuge was provided for Czechs, Austrians and Germans, but after 1939, it also included Poles. In 1941 the city was occupied by the Japanese Imperial forces, allies of the Nazis but not their companions in anti-Semitism. However from 1943 the remaining refugee Jewish population was concentrated in the Hongkew (Hong Kou) Tilanqiao district where many of the impoverished German and Austrian refugees had already settled under Japanese control from their first arrival.
Here a new community came into existence, interacting with the Chinese population, while also seeking to retain the culture of their homelands, which Nazism was eradicating. At war’s end they moved on, forced out by the demands of the Chinese nationalist forces to eject stateless foreigners. Some stayed in China joining with the struggle for Liberation. Some 2000 or so made it to Australia. This talk draws on the story of four of the families.