Safe Passage to Shanghai

Stand for Israel  |  June 5, 2023

Ho Feng-Shan
Ho Feng-Shan

Feng-Shan Ho might not be a name familiar to many, but it should be.

And Feng-Shan Ho might not be someone known by many of us who stand for the Jewish people, but it was well-known to the perhaps tens of thousands of Jewish lives saved by the actions of this man, known by some as “the Chinese Schindler.”

One of these Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis was Eric Goldstaub. In 1938, Feng-Shan Ho issued the Goldstaub family visas (Ho was Chinese diplomat in Vienna, Austria). These visas were truly lifesaving, as the Goldstaubs had spent “days, weeks, and months…trying to obtain visas for parents and near relatives, numbering some 20 people.” The visas to Shanghai allowed them to eventually reach safety in Canada.

Another Jewish life saved by Ho was that of Lilith-Sylvia Doron. As the Nazis persecuted, arrested, and murdered the Jews of Vienna, Lilith’s brother Karl was among those taken. But Ho, who Lilith remembers would “visit our home on a permanent basis to protect us from the Nazis,” issued the siblings visas — which facilitated Karl’s release from Dachau concentration camp — and allowed for them both to make aliyah (immigrate to the Holy Land).

Despite orders from his superiors not to meddle in the Nazis’ actions in Austria, Ho insisted on doing what was right. Any Jew who requested a visa allowing them to escape Nazi-held Austria was given one. Many of these refugees would make it to Shanghai as their visa allowed, either by land or by sea. And many more would use their visas as a means of escaping Nazi-occupied Europe, at last finding safety in the Holy Land or other places.

Ho received a demerit from his superiors for his actions, as they wished to curry favor with Nazi Germany. But Ho did not care, continuing to save lives. After the war was over, he worked as a diplomat until retiring in 1973. He then lived into his 90s, passing away in 1997.

Feng-Shan Ho’s story was, in fact, unknown to the world until after he died. Only then did some of the thousands he had saved begin to tell his story to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial. And so, in 2000, Feng-Shan Ho — known to many as “the Chinese Schindler,” even though he saved more lives than Oskar Schindler did — was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.