Open today: CLOSED

Diaspora in China: Jewish Refugees in Shanghai 1938-1950

Date(s) - Tuesday, August 7th
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Jewish Museum Milwaukee

dsc0801-version-2From 1938 to 1941, at least 17,000 German and Austrian Jewish refugees and more than 2,000 Polish Jews fled from the Nazi terror to Shanghai, China. The refugees’ hoped to use Shanghai as a temporary waiting room for their transfer to North America or elsewhere was soon wrecked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the breakout of the Pacific War. As a result, they ended up spending a decade in China.

Learn how the Jewish refugee community in Shanghai thrived despite the harshness of life in the exile and during the war. Assistant Professor of German at UW-Madison, Weijia Li, will also explore how the Jewish exile in Shanghai promoted the interaction among various Jewish communities in China.

Hear a firsthand account of what life was like in the Shanghai Ghetto from Chaya Small, who was a young girl when her family fled Poland as the Nazis invaded in 1939. Among the approximately 20,000 European Jews who settled in Shanghai in the late 1930s and early 1940s, they were eventually forced into the Shanghai Ghetto, officially known as the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees.

Walk-ins Welcome – Pre-Registration Closed
Museum Members $6 | Non-Members $8
Doors open 20 min prior to the lecture.

Weijia Li serves as Core Faculty Affiliate at the Center for East Asian Studies and the Director of Global Higher Education Master’s Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He went to college in China and Germany, received his Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures from The Ohio State University in 2009. His research and teaching interests include Chinese-German-cultural encounters reflected in German literature, press, and art history. His recent research has been focusing on the Chinese dimension of German-Jewish discourse. In 2010, he published a book on German Jewish writer Anna Seghers’s encounter with China in her life and works. He’s currently working on a new book project on German and Yiddish writings on China by European Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WWII.

Chaya Small was born in Pinsk, Belarus in 1934. When the war broke out, her family fled to Shanghai, China, with visas that came from Chiune Sugihara. The family spent five years in Shanghai in a very small single-room home. After the war, the family moved to New York before Chaya met her husband and moved to Chicago in 1955, where she still resides.

Sponsored by Anneliese and Max Dickman. Offered in connection with Stitching Histories From the Holocaust, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, April 8 – September 16, 2018.

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