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This is the only place to see the Jewish history in Shanghai. There used to be tens of thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe during the second world war. They lived there as a temporary home when other countries denied their visas. The museum showed lots of touching stories from the Jewish community. Some people may argue that there are some biased views or propaganda from the Chinese government. But there are more than that. Definitely worth a visit.
This was a key place for me and my friend to visit but, the moment it began with the story of Anne Frank, I was aware that it was not going to be as insightful and specific to the Shanghai experience as I had hoped. The writing looks at the Holocaust in general; a crucial and important history to look at but kind of misses the point of the name of the museum. The information about how the Jewish people ended up in Shanghai and their experience there was dramatically romanticised and is extended propaganda to make the Chinese look altruistic and the Japanese look horrendous. Comments about the man who wrote the visas for the Jewish people to enter Shanghai being known as the 'Schindler of the East' is completely incorrect as Schindler did not become famous for his contribution until many years after the war. Also things such as the story of the doctor who wanted to operate in the military to give back to China and as a reflection of his belief in peace etc. Again, fictional, this doctor was a urologist and gynecologist yet he is written up in this museum as if he was treating gun wounds on the front line against the invading Japanese. Yes, he was involved but more through coercion by the Chinese and the Chinese feeling that the refugees they had accepted owed them something. There are some glimmers of truth here and of course, it is all based on real events, but the obvious and overt changes to the narrative to make China look good is obvious and disappointing. It also relates to the way the racism and difficulty the Jewish community faced is overlooked. The fact that they all left en masse as soon as Israel was founded and opened its borders. It begs why there is no Jewish quarter in the city if everything was sunshine and butterflies while they were living in Shanghai. An important museum but tainted by the misrepresentation which is rife in China. Everything here must be taken with a remedial grain of salt. Though worth a visit, I would advise people to do alternative research to be able to fully critique what is shared at this museum.
illustrated life by verbal testimonies & artifacts. The synagogue was beautiful. True testimonial of History
I have been here many times. It is such a touching story, in all of the world, Shanghai by far saved and hosted most jewish refugees during WW2.
The museum is larger and more complete than you would expect. Very well done. Many artifacts and stories to find here.
Amazing and educational museum built in and around the synagogue in Shanghai. Roughly 25,000 Jewish refugees lived in China between 1937 and 1941, when China was one of the few countries to open its doors to them. The museum has a wealth of information in both Chinese and English, and admission includes a tour with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide. This is a must-visit during your trip to Shanghai to learn about an important and not-well-known history.
Such an interesting history housed here in the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue in the Hongkou District of Shanghai. The surrounding area was nice to see as well with a lot of old buildings including the former home of Michael Blumenthal (former Secretary of Treasury who lived here as a boy) Our volunteer guide at the museum was really insightful and helpful and his English was very good. The displays are self explanatory as well. This is a bite sized museum and easy to navigate. There is a wall outside in bronze with the names of the thousands of Jews who were saved by what they called 'the Ark'. Also there is an interactive data base where you can search to for people. If you have stories to add they would like to hear them FYI. The original Torah is not there because it was hidden when the revolution hit. Interesting fact that Peter Max the artist was one of the refugees and he returned to China to try and find his nanny who taught him to draw. That touched me.
The museum is situated in what was once the Jewish Quarter of Shanghai, which had had a Jewish community since the later 19th century, in Hongkou District (formerly rendered as "Hongkew"). After the 1937 Battle of Shanghai, Japan occupied the Chinese sections of Shanghai, but the foreign concessions—the Shanghai International Settlementand the Shanghai French Concession—were still under the control of the European powers. In the 1930s, Nazi Germany encouraged the German and Austrian Jews to emigrate, but most countries closed their borders to them, Shanghai and the Dominican Republic being the only exceptions. 20,000 European Jews sought refuge in Shanghai, which did not require a visa to enter, the most of any city in the world. The Ohel Moshe Synagogue was the primary place of worship for the Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Soon after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and declared war on the allies, Japan invaded Shanghai's foreign concessions and occupied the whole city. The war ended the flow of American funds to the impoverished Jewish refugees. The Japanese imposed restrictions on the Jews, and in 1943 officially established the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees, better known as the Shanghai Ghetto, in Hongkou, forcing most Jews to live there. After World War II, China soon fell into a civil war, which ended in the victory of the Communist Party in 1949, and almost all the Shanghai Jews emigrated by 1956.
Glad to learned about the important era of Chinese and Jewish history. It was a fascinating piece of shanghai story that link back to Jewish refugee life inside China during WW2. You could imagine both Chinese and Jewish overcoming numerous difficulties together back at Japanese occupation period. I also took a chance to walk around the Neighbourhood :)
It was a nice experience, although a bit propaganda in it. It's best to take the tour provided in English.