An Interview with Martin Gold, Committee Member of the US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad
Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum has done an extraordinary job introducing the history of Shanghai as the refuge for Jews from Holocaust during WWII. The renovated and expanded museum boasts rich exhibits. It is an extremely important tourist destination for visitors from around the world. I have visited the museum four times and every time I came I found improvements. I’m greatly impressed by the renovated museum and the superb exhibits here, which are very suitable as a venue for seminars and conferences on history of WWⅡ, Dr. Feng Shan Ho and Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The Shanghai’s Jews Databas, that started this June, provides surprising information on a large number of refugees. And I will be extremely willing to facilitate the communications between you and other museums in the world.
During WWII, Dr. Feng Shan Ho demonstrated great courage while most people rebuffed the Jews. He is a real hero. Many refugees came to Shanghai with visas granted by Dr. Feng Shan Ho, and Ohel Moishe Synagogue, the religious centre for Jewish refugees in Shanghai, witnessed this history. Dr. Feng Shan Ho’s contribution in Vienna and the experience of Jewish Refugees in Shanghai are part of Americans’ treasured memory. His life connects China and America as a bridge. So in my opinion, the museum is a perfect venue for the opening ceremony of the pictures exhibition: “Feng Shan Ho and Jewish Refugees: From Vienna to Shanghai”. The plate that my committee contributed in honor of Dr. Feng Shan Ho will also stay here and tell people the past stories.
This May, a pictures exhibition, which was also a reception, was held in Washington D.C in honor of Dr. Feng Shan Ho. That has greatly impressed the senators. And the direct result was the S. Res. 588 honoring Dr. Feng Shan Ho. Our thanks go to the Senate for such a recognition. It is not only the result of the efforts of our committee members, but also of the job done by China.
Sino-US relationship will be a key part of the world for a very long time. So building such a bridge between the two cultures is an indispensable move to promote a better bilateral relationship. And that’s why we are now working on this project.
Attachment: A resolution honoring Dr. Feng Shan Ho
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
June 6, 2008
Mr. HATCH (for himself, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. BARRASSO, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. BENNETT, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. COLEMAN, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. KYL, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. ISAKSON, Mr. SPECTER, and Mr. VOINOVICH) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to
Honoring Dr. Feng Shan Ho, a man of great courage and humanity, who saved the lives of thousands of Austrian Jews between 1938 and 1940.
Whereas, at great personal risk and sacrifice, Dr. Feng Shan Ho authorized the issuance of Chinese visas to Jewish persons so they could emigrate from Austria and escape the horrors of the Holocaust;
Whereas it is necessary to honor Dr. Ho posthumously because, in the ultimate demonstration of selfless humanitarianism, Dr. Ho never sought recognition for his courageous actions;
Whereas 70 years ago, Adolf Hitler’s troops crossed into Austria and announced the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria to Germany), thereby applying all anti-Semitic decrees to Austrian Jews;
Whereas the Nazis brutally persecuted more than 200,000 Austrian Jews, by forcibly segregating them, depriving them of their citizenship and livelihoods, and interning them in concentration camps;
Whereas the fierceness of the persecution in Austria became the model for the future persecution of Jews in other Nazi-conquered territories;
Whereas the Nazis initially assumed a policy of coerced expulsion, with the goal of eventually removing all Jewish persons from Europe;
Whereas most other foreign consulates, although besieged by desperate Jews, offered no help;
Whereas a young Chinese diplomat in Vienna, Dr. Feng Shan Ho, refused to stand by and witness the destruction of innocent human beings, and authorized the issuance of visas for all Jews who asked;
Whereas word spread quickly and Jewish persons formed long lines in front of the Chinese Consulate to obtain the lifesaving visas;
Whereas the Chinese ambassador in Berlin ordered Dr. Ho to stop authorizing visas for Jews, but Dr. Ho nevertheless continued, at risk to his career, to prepare the visas;
Whereas in 1939, the Nazis confiscated the Chinese Consulate building, on the grounds that it was a Jewish-owned building;
Whereas, when the Chinese government refused funds to relocate the Consulate, Dr. Ho reopened the Consulate in another building and personally paid all the expenses;
Whereas in May 1940, Dr. Ho left Vienna, having authorized visas for thousands of Austrian Jews;
Whereas after 4 decades in diplomatic service to China, in 1973, Dr. Ho moved to the United States to join his children;
Whereas Dr. Ho became a United States citizen and lived in San Francisco until September 28, 1997, when he passed away at the age of 96;
Whereas the world only knows of Dr. Ho’s courageous actions because of a chance discovery among his diplomatic papers after his death, and the full extent of Dr. Ho’s heroism is still being uncovered; and
Whereas in 2000, the State of Israel posthumously made Dr. Ho an honorary citizen of Israel and granted him one of Israel’s highest honors, the title of Righteous Among the Nations, ‘for his humanitarian courage in issuing Chinese visas to Jews in Vienna in spite of orders from his superior to the contrary’: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) honors and salutes the great courage and humanity of Dr. Feng Shan Ho for acting at great personal risk to issue Chinese visas to Jews in Vienna between 1938 and 1940; and
(2) recognizes his heroic deeds in saving the lives of thousands of Jewish persons by allowing them to escape the Holocaust.