Another Piece of Memorabilia
from Shanghai


To enjoy a flashback from an object from long ago, that resembles something from our youth, depends largely on the period we associate the find with. 

The period we are discussing in this report deals with the time when Jewish refugees that emigrated to Shanghai in the late 30 ‘s, were restricted to the “Designated Area” that was controlled by a Japanese self-proclaimed “King of the Jews” by the name of Mr. Goya, shown by way of a cartoon in figure one. 

The top of a matchbox that depicts Japanese propaganda, shown in figure two, and a recently acquired postcard commemorating  V-J Day, shown in figure three, is case in point: 

Over fifty years ago, an unknown stamp collector affixed a couple of appropriate type commemorative stamps of Word War II on a postcard and had it postmarked in Washington DC on September 2, 1945 - the exact date of V-J Day. 

When looking closer at the cachet printed on the postcard, it appears that the design is similar to the illustration shown on the top of the matchbox mentioned above. The matchbox displaying Japanese propaganda shows a group of American airplanes falling toward earth, and a ravaged American flag. Conversely, the cachet printed on the postcard representing V-J Day, also shows American Airplanes, this time, however, flying over a Japanese flag.

The flashback occurred while looking at the cachet on the postcard which yours truly associated with the matchbox so vividly remembered from Shanghai, and the Hongkew era. 

The matches in the box were used to light the coal on our little Chinese stoves to sterilize the water, as illustrated in figure four, or to heat-up ‘Die Rote-Bohnen’ (red beans) that were distributed by the Kitchen Fund. 

There were, of course, similar matchboxes illustrating Japanese propaganda which circulated in the Jewish Ghetto including the one shown in figure five

Most of the propaganda that appeared on matchboxes and other commercial products came later in the war, and was used as a means to heighten the morale of the Japanese inhabitants behind Japan‘s loosing war in the Pacific. 

In conclusion, I may add, whatever we perceive from something which reminds us of the former Hongkew Ghetto, or the Japanese Proclamation, one thing remains absolutely clear, Shanghai saved our lives, or to quote Mr. Gassenheimer who stated at the 1980 Reunion, “think of the alternative”.