By Ralph Harpuder


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An Appreciation to Bruno B Heinsius
He Never Received


After the surrender by the Japanese Imperial Navy in 1945, a group of Jewish refugees with a social conscience organized the “Association of Refugees from Germany in Shanghai”.“. Formerly called the “Residence Association of Democratic Germans.” The association originally maintained an underground throughout the war keeping contact with certain sympathetic German officials to learn in advance about Japanese moves.

The Association of Refugees from Germany, as it was later called, with its headquarters located at 696/5 Tongshan Road, elected their leaders by democratic vote. The ballot that shows sixteen members running for chairperson is illustrated in Figure one.

Bruno Heinsius, father of two young children, who was elected at large to lead the association, was attacked on his way home from a meeting shortly after the war and brutally beaten by a few members of the Betar. The association led by Heinsius represented the interest of refugees from Germany regardless of their plans for emigration, and not necessarily settling in Erez Israel Although Betar generally had good intensions, there were a number of militants in the organization that radically opposed the aims of the association that Heinsius belonged to, namely that of assisting refugees emigrating to countries other then Palestine. Betar (Brith Trupedor), a youth organization affiliated with the Zionist Revisionist, became the moral and ideological center of emigrant youth during the days of hardship with the object of preparing for a youthful life in Erez Israel. It also became important during those difficult days for all Jews to keep their hopes alive in order to survive. It was stated in the 1943 Juedisches Nachrichtenblatt (Jewish Bulletin) that there was no greater motivation to overcome all the obstacles in the Hongkew Ghetto after being reminded of the teachings and fighting spirit of our former leaders of Erez Israel, Herzl, Bialik and Jabotinsky. It was their ideology, determination and endurance that the Zionist Revisionist and its affiliate, Betarim was based on. The bulletin with the article is shown in Figure two.

A membership pass from Betar with its basic principles printed inside the pass is shown in Figure three.

The brutal attack on Bruno Heinsius mentioned above propagandized his view on the Zionist movement and the Zionist Organization of Shanghai which advocated and solely supported those immigrants with an eye toward settling in Erez Israel. A letterhead of the Zionist Organization of Shanghai that was located at 897 Point Road, is shown on a piece of stationary in Figure four. It is also worth mentioning at this point that this unfortunate incidence that Heinsius experienced by his opponents, helped him to become elected chairperson to the association he was serving.

As the new chairperson of the Association of Refugees from Germany, Heinsius was able to arrange formal meetings with UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) and the combined Travel-Board in Berlin to negotiate the request of approximately 600 refugees, wanting to return to Germany. A letter from UNRRA, illustrated in Figure five, that was sent by the Repatriation Branch of UNNRA, assisted a refugee with his emigration process.

There were also other immigration affairs in the hands of Heinsius like the instructions he received from the German Jewish Representative Committee in New York to register all refugees wishing to migrate to the United States. This was the first step for procuring a “Sammelaffidavit” (Joint Affidavit) for those refugees that had no relatives living in the States.

Bruno Heinsius continued to make the most of his leadership ability after he arrived in 1947 with his family in America. It was not much later when he founded in Los Angeles the New American Club with its several hundred members. A photo of Heinsius introducing Eleanor Roosevelt at a special function by the club is shown in Figure six.

In conclusion, yours truly likes to add that in spite of the great majority of Shanghai Jewish refugees that settled in other countries and not only in Erez Israel, the hope and dream for a Jewish State, nevertheless became, thanks G-d, a reality. Thanks go to people like Bruno Heinsius and others that unselfishly gave so much of themselves, even working sometimes in opposite direction, to help Jewish refugees in the Shanghai Ghetto get started on a new life in the country of their choice which included Israel and the United States.


§         Japanese Nazis & Jews, Kranzler

§         Almanac, Shanghai 1946/47

§         Personal correspondence from Bruno Heinsius
(Courtesy, Andreas Heinsius)