Speaker: Sara Halpern is a doctoral candidate in Modern Jewish and European History at the Ohio State University and 2019-2020 Association for Jewish Studies Dissertation Completion Fellow. |
Facing an escalating demand for entry into the United States by German-speaking Jews in Shanghai in early 1941, the United States Consulate called the JDC for help. It wanted Laura Margolis to come as a translator for immigration interviews. No one forewarned Laura Margolis about the Jewish refugees living conditions. When she arrived in May 1941, she saw more than 16,000 Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland desperate for food and housing. Under these circumstances fit only for professional social work, she set up a new JDC office. Under four directorships, four different regimes, and two wars, the JDC Shanghai office stood as a rock for Jewish refugees for a decade. The refugees had been first uprooted from their homelands, then forced into a strictly confined area in Shanghai, and finally threatened by local anti-imperialist sentiments. Drawing from the JDC Archives, testimonies, and memoirs, the lecture offers a tale of how the JDC Shanghai office, both a transnational American and an international Jewish relief organization, and its ingenious directors navigated the regimes of the treaty port controlled by multiple powers, the Japanese puppet government, Chiang Kai-Shek, and Mao Zedong. Hailed by the senior administration in New York, the Shanghai job was one of the most difficult in the world. In contrast to Europe during the same period, the small, isolated JDC Shanghai office had to rely on the goodwill of the various consulates and local authorities to assist with the Jewish refugees survival and emigration to other destinations.
Please Note: Patrons who are sharing a computer to view the program need only reserve one ticket.
Presented by Center for Jewish History & JDC Archives
Online - Center for Jewish History (View)
Access link will be provided after registration
New York, NY 10011
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