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Council of the Jewish Community


Safeguarding Vital Records of Refugees

By the Organization, helped Refugees

Make Claims for Restitution

 

By

Ralph Harpuder

 

Responding to questions about my last article on the recently discovered tombstones, I wish to clarify the reason why two different dates appeared on my Father’s Death Certificate that was illustrated in that report. Yours truly would also like to take this opportunity to touch briefly on the history of the Juedische Gemeinde (Communal Association of Central European Jews) since this organization is directly related to the subject at hand.

 

In spite that my mother, after the death of my father, saved and preserved meticulously all our family records, as evidenced in my articles on the Rickshaw Website, the death certificate of my father unknowingly was lost in the shuffle during emigration...

 

As most of us already know, approximately 16,000 Jewish refugees that found a haven in Shanghai established in 1939 the Jewish Communal Association*

 

In the beginning, its primary function was to provide for the religious and secular needs of the three groups of Judaism; Orthodox, Conservative, and Liberal. In the early 40's the organization provided basic Jewish educational services and most important, a legal department that operated an arbitration court**.

 

In accordance with the Chinese Civil code and the Shanghai Municipal Council, the legal department of the Juedische Gemeinde providedfor birth and death certificates.


 

After the end of the war in 1945, and with the founding of the People‘s Republic of China in 1949, the Jewish community dwindled with most of the Jews emigrating to the United States. By 1953, approximately 450 Jews were still remaining in Shanghai, and by 1958 there were less then 100, most of them elderly and in the care of the Council of the Juedische Gemeinde.

 

Before the Juedische Gemeinde was completely dissolved in 1959, the Council issued on request by Shanghailanders already settled in their new country, notarized copies of their personal records. Those records were a prerequisite for making a claim for restitution from the West German Government. A document shown in Figure one states that the family was restricted to a ghetto by Proclamation set forth by the Japanese military authorities. A document mailed by the Council as late as 1957, illustrated in Figure two, tells the date of the family’s departure from Shanghai. The envelope which contained the document is franked with a stamp from the People‘s Republic, and is shown in Figure three. Another envelope that can be viewed in Figure four was mailed directly to an accountant that handled all restitution matters for his clients.

 

In conclusion, the death certificate mentioned at the start of this report had two dates for the following reason: September 24, 1945 was the date when my father passed away. March 25, 1957 was date when the death certificate was reissued from records held in possession by the Council of the Jewish Community in Shanghai. Thanks to the organization and its steadfastness, Shanghailanders were able to receive necessary documents as late as 1959 to file for compensation from the West German Government and receive monies for the persecution they endured

 

The Council of the Jewish Community was finally terminated in 1959.

 

 

*       Almanac, Shanghai 1946/47, Shanghai Echo

 

**      Shanghai Refugee, Ernest G. Heppner, 1995