What are we thankful for? During the Second World War, over 20,000 Jews who fled Nazi-occupied Europe found shelter in Shanghai. 70 years after the end of World War II, this film has been created as a symbol of friendship and cooperation.
(Consulate General of Israel, Shanghai)
During World War II, Shanghai was one of the only places in the world that opened its gates to Jewish refugees. It was an ‘open port’ and a place where Jews could find refuge and safe haven.
The Jews who arrived in Shanghai came from various countries, of all ages and from different backgrounds. The Jewish refugees resided mainly in the Hongkou District.
The Jewish refugees lived peacefully and in friendship with their Chinese neighbors. Together they went through the war ordeals but also shared happy events. Jews and Chinese invited each other to family celebrations and supported one another in tragedies.
The Jewish refugees did their best to enrich their communal life and their surroundings. They opened schools, synagogues, theaters, and coffee shops. They also started a newspaper and established various sports teams.
At the end of the war, most of the Jews left China and immigrated to Israel, the U.S and Australia. Among the Jewish refugees in Shanghai are such notable people such as former U.S Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal, renowned businessman Shaul Eisenberg and composer Otto Joachim.
The story of the film
This year, marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War, the Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai has created this film as a symbol of friendship and cooperation.
The Consul General of Israel in Shanghai, Mr. Arnon Perlman, former head of media and communication division at the Israeli Prime Minister’s office and personal chief advisor to former Prime Minister Sharon stated about the film:
"This film is a token of appreciation to Shanghai and to the Chinese people from the people of Israel. The Israeli people will never forget how the Chinese people came to our help during our darkest hour. It is here, in Shanghai, where Jewish refugees could find shelter from the Nazi regime. It was here, in Shanghai, where Jewish refugees were received in open arms by the Chinese people. It is only logical that we should express our gratitude.
We created this film in hope that as many people in China and around the world can see it and feel our deepest wishes of gratitude to them. We sincerely hope that this film will help to strengthen the friendship between our two nations. This is a friendship that was forged not only at good times but also at the Jewish people’s hardest hour, the Holocaust."
In the film Israelis say "thank you" to Shanghai and to the Chinese people for their friendship and hospitality. The participants in the film are all holding signs saying "Thank You" in one of three languages: Chinese, Hebrew and English. The video was filmed in Israel, and portrays its beautiful scenery along with its people. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally expresses his gratitude.
Among the Israelis featured in the video are former refugees who grew up in Shanghai, Mayor Yona Yahav of Haifa (sister city to Shanghai), Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Robert J. (Yisrael) Aumann, high tech professionals, famous magician Hezi Din, students and artists.