Shanghai Ghetto (2002)
This documentary recounts the history of some 20,000 Jews who fled 8,000 miles from Europe to Shanghai during World War II when most all other countries had closed their borders to them. At the time, much of China, including Shanghai, was occupied and controlled by Japan. Because of their own racist stereotypes, the Japanese feared the Jews, and so allowed the refugees to exist in the "Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees" with the help of wealthy Baghdadi and poorer Russian Jews who had already settled there, along with western aid. A rich cultural life emerged that included schools, theater, newspapers, and music. As one of the poorest sections of Shanghai, life for the local Chinese who lived together with the Jews was often worse. After Pearl Harbor, American attacks on the Japanese in China made the horrible conditions in Shaghai even worse. The film draws upon archival footage, diaries, letters, historians, and, most powerfully of all, interviews with a half dozen survivors who were children of eight to ten years old at the time.