From 1933 to 1941, Shanghai became a modern-day “Noah’s Ark” accepting around 30,000 Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust in Europe. In the “Designated Area for Stateless Refugees” in Tilanqiao area of Shanghai, about 20,000 Jewish refugees lived harmoniously with local citizens, overcoming numerous difficulties together. By the time the Second World War ended in 1945, most of the Jewish refugees had survived. Dr. David Kranzler, a noted Holocaust historian, called it the “Miracle of Shanghai” and commented that within the Jewry’s greatest tragedy, i.e. the Holocaust, there shone a few bright lights. Among the brightest of these is the Shanghai haven. In the "Tilanqiao Historic Area”, the original features of the Jewish settlement are still well preserved. They are the only typical historic traces of Jewish refugee life inside China during the Second World War.
I. Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum
The museum, located at 62 Changyang Road, Hongkou District, consists of three parts: the former site of Ohel Moshe Synagogue and two exhibition halls. It is an important component of the “Tilanqiao Historic Area” and serves as a witness commemorating the phase of history when the Jewish refugees lived in Shanghai.
1. The former site of Ohel Moshe Synagogue
The Ohel Moshe Synagogue is one of the only two synagogues in Shanghai built by Russian Jews where the Jewish refugees gathered for religious rites during the Second World War. In 2004, it was listed among the fourth set of architectural heritage treasures of Shanghai. Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli Prime Minister, commented during his visit to Shanghai, “To the people of Shanghai for unique humanitarian act of saving thousands of Jews during the Second World War, thanks in the name of the government of Israel.”
In March 2007, the People’s Government of Hongkou District budgeted special funds for a full renovation of the synagogue in accordance with the original architectural drawings found in the city archives. The former site of Ohel Moshe Synagogue has been restored to the same architectural style when it used as a synagogue in 1928. In addition, the interior structures have also been adjusted according to the drawings. The duplication of the architectural drawing is shown on the first floor. A sign-in machine, a database of the Jewish refugees and video programs are available on the third floor with temporary exhibits.
2. No.2 Exhibition Hall
It was completed at the end of 2007. Over 140 photos are displayed and a multi-screen display system is the first of its kind to be used in Shanghai. The short film about the refugees living in Shanghai together with an oil painting and sculptures make that phase of history come alive. In addition, duplication of a refugee’s passport, the Shanghai Jewish Chronicle, and a large stone tablet engraved with Rabin’s inscription are also on display. The joint efforts of historians and artists makes visitors linger on without any thought of leaving.
3. No.3 Exhibition Hall
It was completed in May of 2008 and has novel exhibitions from time to time.
II. Architectural Complex at Huoshan Road and Zhoushan Road
The buildings at 71-95 Huoshan Road and 1-81 Zhoushan Road, built in the late 1920s, are contiguous to one another in European classic style. As it was the place where Jewish refugees lived in greatest concentration during the Second World War, this area became a commercial center with an exotic atmosphere, known as “Little Vienna” in those days. Mr. Michael Blumenthal, ex-Secretary of the Treasury of the United States and the present curator of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, once lived in a small garret at 59 Zhoushan Road.
III. The Former Site of JDC
The former site of Joint Distribution Committee is located at 119 and 121 on Huoshan Road. Built in 1910, the adjoining three-storey building with the fourth storey added later had a two-bay shop. The Shanghai branch office of JDC was located at this site with headquarters in New York City. Now it serves as a multi-family residence.
IV. Huoshan Park
Huoshan Park is located at 118 Huoshan Road. In the past it was called Wayside Park. It was built in 1917 and occupies a space of 3,700 square meters. During the Second World War, the Jewish refugees from Europe often came here to relax or get together. Inside the park stands a monument in commemoration of the “Designated Area for Stateless Refugees”.
V. The Former Site of Jewish Refugees Shelter
After 1939 seven shelters were set up to provide assistance to the Jewish refugees throughout the city of Shanghai. The largest one, sheltering over 1,000 refugees, was inside lane 138 on Changyang Road (the former White Russians’ camp of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps).
VI. Cafe Atlantic
The former site of Cafe Atlantic is located at 127 Haimen Road. It was run by a Jewish refugee and Jewish musicians were often invited to give performances here. Now it serves as residential housing.
VII. Mascot Roof Garden
The former site of Mascot Roof Garden is located at the top of the Broadway Theater, 57 Huoshan Road. It was a famous gathering place for Jewish refugees. Jewish musicians often held concerts here.
VIII. Ocean Hotel
The Ocean Hotel is located at 1171 East Daming Road in Tilanqiao area. The hotel is just opposite the Bund and provides a panoramic view of the Huangpu River.
Two Recommended Routes:
Route 1: Ocean Hotel → go eastward along Huoshan Road → Huoshan Park → The former site of JDC (opposite Huoshan Park) → go eastward along Huoshan Road → Baoding Road → go northward along Baoding Road → turn west at Changyang Road → Lintong Road (Shikumen houses, typical lilong alley houses in Shanghai) → back to Changyang Road and go westward → The former site of Jewish refugees shelter → Zhoushan Road (former Jewish dwellings) → back to Changyang Road → Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum
Route 2: Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum → Zhoushan Road (former Jewish dwellings) → The former site of JDC (opposite Huoshan Park) → Huoshan Park