Jews fleeing Nazi persecution created a large refugee problem. Challenges in getting visas to the U.S. and other countries left people with very few options.
- 1What challenges did Jews face when trying to flee persecution?
- 2Were other countries welcoming to the influx of refugees?
Explain to students that as persecution for Jewish people in Nazi occupied territories worsened, more and more people were seeking refuge in other countries. Many countries, including the United States, had a long waiting list to obtain visas.
Pull up this checklist from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Americans and the Holocaust virtual exhibition. Examine one or two of the steps in greater detail.
Up until August 1939, no visas were required to enter Shanghai.
Read the following excerpt from a diary entry about entrance to Shanghai:
“We have to go to Shanghai. Terrible letters come from there. One runs again to see if our names are on the list to leave. Before, when one saw his name on the list, one was happy. Today…one cries.”
-Rose Shoshana Kahan diary entry, 1941
Ask students why they think people continued to seek refuge in Shanghai despite hearing such terrible things from there? What does that say about the desperation people had to leave Europe?
In partners or individually, have students read through this article by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum about Polish Jewish Refugees in the Shanghai Ghetto and answers the questions below.
- What were conditions like for the refugees that ended up in Shanghai?
- How did things change after the attack on Pearl Harbor?
- How did the Jewish refugees maintain a sense or ordinary life?
Come together as a class to go over their answers.
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.