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STORY OF SHANGHAI-ED JEWS IS SUBJECT OF PORT'
HANNAH BROWNNew York PostNew York, N.Y.: Dec 9, 1999. pg. 58
Abstract (Document Summary)

THE Port of Last Resort," a documentary that opens today at Anthology Film Archives, is a fascinating look at the intense clash of cultures that occurred when 20,000 Jews fled Hitler's Europe for Shanghai in the late '30s and early '40s.

While some dreamed of Europe, America or Israel, others found themselves attracted to the Far East. "God forgive me, [Shanghai] was the most exciting and unique city in the world. She was poison, and the old-time Shanghai-landers were addicts who could never free themselves from being in love with her," wrote one man.

Full Text (344   words)
Copyright New York Post Corporation Dec 9, 1999

MOVIE REVIEW

THE Port of Last Resort," a documentary that opens today at Anthology Film Archives, is a fascinating look at the intense clash of cultures that occurred when 20,000 Jews fled Hitler's Europe for Shanghai in the late '30s and early '40s.

Co-directors Joan Grossman and Paul Rosdy resist the temptation to be anything but straightforward as they combine home movies, excerpts from letters, refugees' reminiscences, newsreels, music and other archival material to explore a little-known chapter in Jewish history.

Their restraint pays off. "Port" is a moving look at survival in alien and harsh surroundings, one that will touch a chord not only in those who follow Holocaust history, but in anyone who has ever been homesick.

Jews ended up in China, the film explains, not out of any interest in Chinese culture but because few other countries were willing to take them then.

Recalls former refugee Fred Fields: "There is one place on earth where you can go without any paper, no permit, no affidavit, no visa. You just get there -- that's Shanghai."

Arriving by ship, with just eight German marks apiece, the Jews lived on charity at first, then managed to build a thriving Jewish community, complete with newspapers, theater and cafes.

While some dreamed of Europe, America or Israel, others found themselves attracted to the Far East. "God forgive me, [Shanghai] was the most exciting and unique city in the world. She was poison, and the old-time Shanghai-landers were addicts who could never free themselves from being in love with her," wrote one man.

But after the Japanese tightened their hold on Shanghai in 1942, the Jews were forced to live in a ghetto and suffered from severe malnutrition and disease.

In spite of their mixed feelings about the years they spent in their Far Eastern refuge, several admitted that they wouldn't want to have missed the experience of living there, and this compelling film makes clear why.

It's playing with John Burgan's "Memory of Berlin," a documentary about an Englishman's search for his birth parents in Berlin.


Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
Section:   Arts
Text Word Count   344
Document URL:    





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