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May 10, 2013 12:20 pm

Is China Trying to Co-opt the Holocaust?

avatar by Rafael Medoff /

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Caption: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with Mayor of Shanghai Yang Xiong (R) in Shanghai on May 7, 2013. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90.

During his visit to China this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled that the city of Shanghai was “one of the few places that opened its gates” to Jews fleeing Hitler. Officials of the Chinese Communist government, standing nearby, beamed with pleasure at the expectation that people all over the world would read how their regime rescued Jews.

But is it true?

As the prime minister noted, the port city of Shanghai was a haven for many European Jewish refugees during the Hitler years, at a time when most other countries, including the United States, closed their doors to all but a fortunate few. It is important to note that much of China was under Japanese military occupation from 1931 until 1945, and immigration to Shanghai was controlled by the Japanese government, not the Chinese. The Japanese, hoping to improve their relations with the U.S. and the American Jewish community, permitted about 20,000 German and Austrian Jews to settle in Shanghai during the 1930s.

This immigration was made possible in part by false documents given to Jews by the Dutch consul in Lithuania, Jan Zwartendijk, and by transit visas to Japan provided, without official sanction, by Japan’s acting consul-general in Lithuania, Sugihara Chiune. Officially the visas were good for only eight to 12 days, but the Japanese authorities allowed the refugees to remain in Japan for up to eight months until they found other destinations. Many went to Shanghai, including 500 rabbis and students (and their families) from the famous Mir Yeshiva.

Beginning in 1943, most of the Jews in Shanghai were confined to a two-square-mile section of the city known as the Restricted Area. Conditions were harsh but certainly not comparable to what Jews suffered in Europe. These Jews were saved from the Holocaust because of Japan’s—not China’s—policies.

There were several individual Chinese citizens who came to the aid of the Jews during the Holocaust. But they were nationalists, not Communists; they were associated with the anti-Communist forces led by Chang Kai-Shek, who later lost the Chinese civil war and fled to Taiwan in 1949.

One was Dr. Li Yu Ying, a prominent scholar and president of Soochow University. While living in the United States in the 1940s, he served as one of the co-chairmen of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe (better known as the Bergson Group), an activist movement that held rallies, lobbied in Washington, DC, and sponsored hundreds of full-page newspaper advertisements promoting rescue of Jews from the Nazis. Dr. Ying had previously served the Chang Kai-Shek government in several capacities, including as China’s representative to League of Nations meetings.

Two other Chinese citizens have been honored by Yad Vashem for assisting Jews during the Nazi era. One was Pan-Jun-Shun, who moved from China to Russia in 1916 (i.e. more than thirty years before the Communists took over in China). He was living in the city of Kharkov, in the Soviet Ukraine, when the Germans invaded in 1941. Pan saved a Jewish girl named Ludmilla Genrichovna from the Nazi round-ups by hiding her in his home.

The other Chinese rescuer was Dr. Feng Shan Ho, who served as China’s consul-general in Vienna from 1938 to 1940. He issued unauthorized visas to Jews trying to escape Nazi-controlled Austria, enabling them to reach the safety of Shanghai. Dr. Ho represented the Chang Kai-Shek government. And after the nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949, he served as Taiwan’s ambassador to Egypt, Mexico, and other countries.

When Dr. Ho was posthumously honored by Yad Vashem in 2001, the Communist Chinese ambassador attended the ceremony—and insisted that the ambassador from Taiwan be excluded. The Beijing government-controlled press gave prominent coverage to the honoring of Ho, whom it identified as “a Chinese diplomat,” erroneously implying that he was associated with the Beijing regime.

It is not hard to understand why Beijing’s rulers would falsely seek to take credit for what the Chinese nationalists and the Japanese did to help the Jews. Xu Kuangdi, an official of a government agency called the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, explained after visiting the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum last fall, “The spreading of this story plays an active role in promoting the understanding and friendship between the Chinese and people from all over the world.”

Translation: It’s good PR for the regime, and it stimulates tourism, especially by foreign Jews interested in seeing the old Shanghai ghetto area—the same reason the Chinese government installed a kosher kitchen at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

And China’s leaders are determined to keep up appearances: a government website reports that a Beijing official who visited the Shanghai museum “put his hand on the escalator, and when he casually raised the hand, he saw it was still spotlessly clean. Then, he looked back at the head [of the museum] with a satisfied smile… The two Sanitation Aunts are very industrious… Whenever visitors come to the Museum, they would see the two Aunts busy with their job.”

Sanitizing the museum is one thing. Sanitizing history is another. Chairman Mao was not some kind of Asian Raoul Wallenberg. His followers are not the ones who deserve the credit for the Shanghai haven, or for the brave efforts of individual Chinese citizens who rescued Jews from the Nazis.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, His latest book is ‘FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith.’

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  • Taiwanese Guy

    Charlie Hall,

    CHINA (mainly RULING CLASS) is KISSING ARSES of JEWS because of THEIR Flawed PERCEPTIONS (mainly down to wanting unwarranted POWER and MONEY) from JEWS being ALL RICH, which is NOT 100% TRUE at all! MOST CHINESE such as Chen GuangCheng, BLINDED CHINESE LAWYER, and MANY MORE CHINESE IN GENERAL would not want to live in such a BS SYSTEM that PROMOTED EXPLOITATION of ONE CLASS TO ANOTHER (WHERE those VERY FEW would BENEFITED only)! Anyhow, ISRAEL is really more like SOUTH KOREA or JAPAN, which is ruled by VERY POWERFUL GROUPS OF MINORITY as well! TAIWAN is less pronounced on that (mainly KMT RULE and THEIR Chiang Kai-Shek CRONIES) but inching toward that again unfortunately with CRAPPY OIL, RACTOPAMINE MEAT, and who knows what will be next these days! Personally, as a TAIWANESE, I would rather not lived in such a huge M-SHAPED SOCIETY for me nor for my future TAIWANESE KIDS and for any other TAIWANESE KIDS IN TAIWAN as well!! =(

    The OTHER GRIP OF MINE is NOT SHOWING any of our HOT ASIAN MEN with HOT ASIAN WOMEN COUPLES and CUTE ASIAN KIDS on your GLOBAL MASS MEDIA with “Malcolm X – The Power of Media” and “THE reason why some Black Men Won’t Date Or Marry Black Women” YouTube VIDEO! What’s wrong showing BLACK MEN with BLACK WOMEN COUPLES, JEWISH MEN with JEWISH WOMEN COUPLES, and so on? Your JEWS obviously are VERY SELF-HATING in my opinion (IF COULD KEEP THAT BS TO YOUR RACE ONLY) with people like Bobby Fischer and so much more! Rumor is that Adolf Hitler have SOME JEWISH BLOOD LINE, too, which is just like that WAR MONGER Dick Cheney JEW (probably a MIRROR IMAGE, too)! I find “SELF-HATING JEW” just VERY ANNOYING as well consider that “CONCENTRATION OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP” and “Infographic: Media Consolidation – The Illusion of Choice” are really MOSTLY OWNED by your JEWISH CEOs of those GLOBAL MASS MEDIA now a day!! {roll my eyes}

    “Baby Boomers and Politicians” YouTube VIDEO (THOSE Whitey White CHRISTIAN BIGOTS sure like to blame JEWS on everything NOT THAT JEWS ARE BLAME FREE, but THOSE Whitey White CHRISTIAN BIGOTS or known as BABY BOOMERS are really MOST RESPONSIBLE than ANY OTHER GROUPS followed by ZIONIST Dick Cheney and Rupert Murdoch JEWS in USA that egg THESE Racist A-HOLES on), “Mediocracy”, “George Carlin on Fat People”, and so on with George Carlin being 100% CORRECT on that! Well, stop screwing with TAIWAN when those Lavi J-10s will goes to IRAN eventually if CHINA ever wanted those Iranian OIL at all…. haha…. talk about POETIC JUSTICE with WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!! >=P

  • Taiwanese Guy

    Funny, isn’t it from THESE Greedy and Anti-Democracy GROUPS OF PEOPLE? Or, is that just DOUBLE STANDARD now a day? I didn’t know that THESE WARMONGERS Dick Cheney JEWS with 9/11 INSIDE JOBS and WARMONGERS Chiang Kai-Shek FULGY CHINESE with 2/28 in TAIWAN can be such a hit these days!! {roll my eyes}

    • Taiwanese Guy

      Oh yeah, just can’t wait for more of THOSE Neo-Con WARS over DWINDLING OIL SUPPLIES because any ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS to using outside of PETROLEUM would be just SO UNTHINKABLE…. lol! “WHAT SANCTIONS?: Iranian Oil Trade booming Says Top China Buyer”, “Rich Man’s Recovery”, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, and so on! Of course, that is just MORE GREAT TEACHINGS of those FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER from THEIR Jew-CHRISTIAN-Queer BS to dumb down any SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHES FOR NEW ENERGY in USA EMPIRE now a day…. haha? GAY Ted Haggard [R], Joe Lieberman [D], Dick Cheney [R], Jim McGreevey [D], and so much more BLOW AMERICA…. I mean GOD BLESS AMERICA (Sieg Heil George W. Bush, Jr., Dick Cheney, and all of THEIR Puppet CRONY GANGS these days)!! >=P

  • jerry hersch


    “A member of the Japanese imperial family, Prince Mikasa-no-miya (b.1915), younger brother of the previous Emperor Shouwa (Hirohito) and uncle of the current Emperor Heisei (Akihito), is a long-time
    student of Semitic languages and Near Eastern Studies lecturer; Tokayer extols (pp.115ff.) the Prince’s expert knowledge of Hebrew and of Jewish history. Tokayer says that the first time he met the Prince he was shown the Prince’s autograph book, which Tokayer was told contained the signatures of rabbis he’d previously met. Tokayer was surprised to see the book contained the signature of “every Jewish rabbi who had ever visited Japan” (Tokayer, op.cit., p.116). ”
    There was some interest in Jewish topics among a few of the Japanese officer corps..I’m not sure how much of this interest penetrated the occupation force in China.
    Among the preoccupied Chinese in the unoccupied areas any foe of the Axis powers was welcome-especially ifthey could contribute to the cause..Perhaps talmudic study could qualify as contributing ?

  • Charlie Hall

    This is completely unnecessary. China has absolutely no history of official anti-Semitism; the local Jewish community vanished as the result of assimilation, not persecution. While Chairman Mao was no Raoul Wallenberg, he was also no Pierre Laval.

  • Palimadar