Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Israel Wants ROC Schindler in ROC Textbooks

Kuomingtang News reports that the government of Israel wants former ROC diplomat in Germany to be remembered in local textbooks for saving Jews from the Holocaust:
During World War II, Ho Feng-shan, then Consul-General of the Republic of China at Vienna, issued more than 2,000 visas to Jews, helping them to leave for Shanghai to escape Nazi Germany’s genocide. Raphael Gamzou, head of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, recently told Wang Fan-sen, vice president of Academia Sinica, that Israel hoped that the ROC Government would include Ho’s righteous deeds in its history textbooks.
Wiki has an entry on Ho:

After "Kristallnacht" in 1938, the situation became rapidly more difficult for the almost 200,000 Austrian Jews. The only way for Jews to escape from Nazism was to leave Europe. In order to leave, they had to provide proof of emigration, usually a visa from a foreign nation, or a valid boat ticket. This was difficult, however, because at the 1938 Evian Conference 31 countries (out of a total of 32 which included Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) refused to accept Jewish immigrants due to their fear of Nazi Germany. The only country willing to accept Jews was the Dominican Republic, offering to accept up to 100,000 refugees on generous terms. [2] In spite of the prohibition of the Chinese Ambassador to Berlin Chen Jie (陳介), who planned to strengthen the relations between his country and Germany, Ho continued to give visas on humanitarian grounds. Chen Jie sent an agent to Vienna Embassy to investigate Ho's activities. He spread the rumor that Ho was selling the visas. The agent arrived unexpectedly but, as he did not find any evidence about the false accusation, he had to return to Berlin empty handed. [3] At the time it was not necessary to have a visa to enter Shanghai, but the visas allowed the Jews to leave Austria. Many Jewish families left for Shanghai, whence most of them would later leave for Hong Kong and Australia. Ho continued to issue these visas until he was ordered to return to the ROC in May 1940.

The exact number of visas given by Dr. Ho to Jewish refugees is unknown. It is known that Dr.Ho issued the 200th visa in June 1938, and signed 1906th on October 27, 1938. How many Jews were saved through his actions is unknown, but given that Ho issued nearly 2,000 visas only during his first half year at his post, the number may be in the thousands.

Another tidbit about Ho:
At one point the building that housed the ROC consulate in Vienna was confiscated by the Nazis on the ground that it was a Jewish property. The ROC government refused Ho’s request to relocate the consulate, but Ho paid out of his own pocket and move the consulate to a smaller place. While there Ho continued to issue visas to Austrian Jews until he was ordered to return to China in May 1940.
Ho's forty years of service to the ROC government received its due reward. In 1985 he was accused of embezzlement and stripped of his pension. From this article that relies on the testimony of his son, a local academic, in describing the affair:
Sadly, the name of the human rights hero was tainted with an impeachment for embezzlement in 1985, where he was charged by a former subordinate of embezzling US$300 and other minor counts.

Ho Feng-shan's son, Ho Mon-to holocaust director of clinical research at the National Health Research Institute, has sought to have his father's name cleared since 1978, when he was elected as a member of the Academia Sinica.

Having collated records from evidence given by his father and written documents, Ho Mon-to and his younger sister became even more convinced their father was falsely accused and determined to put the record straight.

"When my father was appointed ambassador to Colombia, from Bolivia in 1970, he refused to recommend his subordinate to a consular position. This led to the subordinate's accusations two year later," said Ho.
Ho shows the complexities of diplomats from authoritarian states in Hitler's Germany. Ho would go on to serve the Chiang government during its murderous, authoritarian heyday. Similarly diplomats from Portugal, Japan (Sugihara, who also resigned in protest about Japanese treatment of Chinese in Manchuria, and Yoshiro Fujimura, behind one of the individual attempts to end the Pacific War in 1945), Spain, Italy and other authoritarian states saved thousands of Jews during the war.
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1 comment:

Tommy said...

Thanks for the South China Sea article. The writer does a good job of covering the topic from many perspectives. I don't think many people understand just how problematic that part of the world could be. We may be in for a very interesting decade.