Give thanks for care-packages

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Ralph Harpuder

Philatelic Judaica is a hobby that deals with postage stamps depicting the life and aspiration of Jews throughout the ages. It also includes important documents especially from the Holocaust era. Thanks to Ed Rosen, a fellow philatelist and stamp dealer in Redwood City, California, yours truly was able to obtain the following Shanghai memorabilia.

The report that follows may hold a special interest to a number of Shanghailanders that were children at the time of their departure from Shanghai. They may not recall today the care-packages consisting of food and clothing their parents received from private citizens in Montreal, Canada.

Several lists with actual signatures from the recipients acknowledging collectively the care-packages sent to them from Montreal, Canada are shown in Figures one thru six... The lists also state the item(s) received by the individual refugee, and their respective address. Names of Shanghailanders, alive today, that were youngsters when their parents emigrated to America or returned to their native country, also appear on a list. Sonja Muehlberger, now living in Berlin, who is popular among many Shanghailanders, especially for helping to locate the whereabouts or the fate of friends and relatives that immigrated to Shanghai prior to the war, is also shown by her maiden name on a list. Sonja was a small child at the time, and was represented on the list by her parents.

After the war had ended, Emil Wiehl, an immigrant in Shanghai, corresponded with his brother in Montreal. With his help the Jewish Community in Montreal began to send care-packages to the refugees in the Shanghai Ghetto that were in need of food and clothes. Weihl, who lived at 50/20 Ward Road, and was also a recipient, acted as a trustee for receiving the care-packages and passing them on to the poor. At this point, it is assumed that Mrs. Hendler in Montreal was in charge of collecting the food and clothing from people in the Jewish Community and in sending them to Emil Weihl in Shanghai for distribution. The assumption becomes more evident in a letter sent to Mrs. Hendler by E. Weihl in February of 1947 in which he thanks her on behalf of all the refugees for the care-packages. The letter, shown in Figure seven, also lists another 29 recipients including Mr. Weihl. The envelope containing the letter and mailed from Shanghai, is shown in Figure eight.

The reason for this particular method by which the gratitude for the care-packages and individual items was expressed, i.e. not directly from each individual but instead by signatures and by proxy, was explained in a letter from Emil Weihl to Mrs. Hendler. The letter is shown in Figure nine. Accordingly, most refugees were not able to write in English. Furthermore, Mr. Weihl was under the impression that a number of refugees may have swamped the caring people in Montreal not only with letters of thanks, but also with unreasonable requests. It was therefore, he added, that the people were asked to refrain from expressing their thanks individually, and that the letters containing the list of signatures would speak for all.

There were some exceptions, however, like the letter sent from Mr. Ernst Mueller, to Mr. J Wiseberg in Montreal. The letter, written in September of 1946, is shown in Figure ten. Yours truly calls to the attention the command of the English language possessed by Mr. Mueller at the time he wrote the letter in the mid-forties.

A similar letter sent by Siegmund Bruenell, 603 Tongshan Road, to L. Roskies in Montreal, is shown in Figure 11.

In one of his later letters to Mrs. Hendler, E. Weihl wrote that food is no longer a problem because of the distribution of UNRRA rations. He also suggested in a letter to Mrs. Hendler, dated April 8, 1947, that all future care-packages should be diverted to Europe where the need for such items as clothes and food is far greater.