The Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre presented a special lecture titled “Strange Haven: Forgotten Stories of Jewish Refugees Who Escaped to Wartime Shanghai from Nazi Europe” (猶太人逃難戰時上海: 猶太大屠殺歷史被遺忘的那些事) at the Hong Kong International Book Fair – the city’s biggest annual literature event which concluded last week. We are delighted that the talk attracted a diverse, standing room only crowd, emphasising the value and importance of HKHTC’s core message of tolerance and non-discrimination.
The lecture was presented by HKHTC Executive Director & Columbia University’s Historical Dialogue Fellow Simon Li in Cantonese, enabling us to connect with hundreds of local community members, including many who through this event learned about the Holocaust and the Shanghai Ghetto for the first time. The focus was on Irene Eber’s book Voices from Shanghai: Jewish Exiles in Wartime China (Chicago University Press), which fills in one of the remaining gaps in the study of Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WWII by collating together poems, letters, extracts from diaries, and short stories originally composed and written in Polish, German and Yiddish. Eber’s collection helps readers to understand the most inner feelings of displaced people who had lost everything in their homeland and had no clue of what lay ahead in their troubled lives.
HKHTC is grateful to the Consulate of Israel in Hong Kong & Macau for arranging the talk. For English-speaking audiences who are interested in this topic, we have provided an English-subtitled video feature story here, in which Simon discusses how Shanghai hosted a large, vibrant community of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Nazi Europe as well as the refugees’ relationships with Hong Kong.