National Archives opens postwar Shanghai visa records
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National Archives opens postwar Shanghai visa records

20,000 Jews fled to China from the Holocaust and many then applied at the US consulate to travel to America

A young Jewish refugee and her Chinese girlfriends in Shanghai during World War II (photo credit: Courtesy Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum)
A young Jewish refugee and her Chinese girlfriends in Shanghai during World War II (photo credit: Courtesy Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum)

WASHINGTON — The US National Archives is opening to researchers postwar visa application records from the US consulate in Shanghai, a potential trove for information about Holocaust refugees in that city.

“This collection adds to the extensive Holocaust-related records holdings at the National Archives,” according to a November 20 statement from the archives.

“From 1938 on, an estimated 20,000 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria escaped to Shanghai, the only place in the world that did not require a visa to enter,” the statement said. “Between 1939 and 1940, nearly 2,000 Polish Jews escaped to Shanghai, avoiding certain death.”

The 1,300 case files for applicants for US visas covers the period 1946-1951 and could provide a window into the postwar movements of the refugees.

In addition to Jewish refugees, the city hosted diasporas from an array of war-battered countries.

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