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Jewish people share memories of Shanghai
By Zhang Kun (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-11 05:50

SHANGHAI: From stories of life-saving feats to childhood ballads, Jewish people shared their memories of experience in Shanghai during the World War II.

A series of events are being held, including an exhibition which opened yesterday and a seminar held today.

Michael Blumenthal was 12 when he came to Shanghai.

When the American troops entered Shanghai, 19-year-old Blumenthal got a job with the US Air Force as a warehouseman. In July 1945, he worked on the frontier, helping to carry the casualties off the battlefield.

On his stretchers were Chinese as well as Jewish refugees. "The majority of them were Chinese," recalled the 79-year-old former US treasury secretary under President Jimmy Carter, at the opening ceremony of an exhibition of the Jewish experiences in Shanghai, held in the former Ohel Rachel Synagogue yesterday.

"If we lost 20 to 30, the Chinese must have lost hundreds."

Today Blumenthal is director of Europe's largest Jewish museum in Berlin, the city from which he and his family were forced to flee in 1939. The museum is dedicated to depicting 2,000 years of German-Jewish history, and Blumenthal hopes to bring the exhibition to China's national museum next January 27 , the day set aside by a recent UN conference for commemorating the Holocaust in World War II.

An artist from Israel, Dvir Bar-Gal has been trying to discover the tombstones of refugees and immigrants to Shanghai in the early 1900s.

A few months ago, he found the marker for a Mrs Klebanoff.

It was the grave stone of Lily Klebanoff Blake's paternal grandmother. Shanghai-born Blake is on her third visit to Shanghai since her adulthood. Now she is the president of Klebanoff International and her ambition is to put her expertise in international business mergers to use promoting Sino-American business co-operation.

Former Jewish refugees and their old Chinese neighbours gathered in the Ohel Moshe Synagogue in Tilanqiao area, which hosted the largest Jewish community in World War II, to recall their shared memories of friendship through hard times.

Shanghai received nearly 20,000 Jewish refugees during WWII. Many arrived thanks to Ho Feng-shan, the former Chinese consul-general in Vienna, Austria, who issued thousands of visas to Shanghai for Jewish refugees.

(China Daily 11/11/2005 page2)

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