SHANGHAI MUNICIPAL POLICE RECORDS
by Peter Nash, Sydney, Australia
the Communist take-over in September 1949, Shanghai was a cosmopolitan city
with three independent sectors: the French Concession, the International
Settlement and the Chinese Municipality
of Greater Shanghai which included Hongkew where most of the Jewish refugees
either lived after arrival circa 1938 to 1940 or were forced to live from
1943. The International Settlement's ruling body was the Shanghai Municipal
Council, a citizen group. Its law enforcement arm, the Shanghai Municipal
included Chinese, Indian, Russian and Japanese officers, but the most senior
officers were British.
The eventual transfer of the files in 1949 just prior to the Communist take-over, from the Nationalist Chinese to American Strategic Services officers based in Shanghai (forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency) is a hair-raising story in itself. When the files were hurriedly loaded on board an American warship, some of the boxes fell into the Whangpoo River; others were damaged when the ship transporting them ran into a typhoon. Luckily most of the files safely reached Japan, and eventually the United States.
The potential genealogical data relevant to the 20,000 Central European Jewish refugees and Russian and Sephardic Jews that resided in Shanghai in the 1938 to 1945+ period interested me. So my planned visit to Washington DC in July 2003 for an International Jewish Genealogy Conference included some time to access these files. I was not prepared for the vast amount of files containing astonishing reports for all kinds of citizens as well as various lists of Jewish residents.