from the Shanghai Ghetto

Fig. 1

Fig. 2 through 6

Fig 7 through 10

Fig. 11


Ralph Harpuder

The year 2005 marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. It was also six decades ago in 1945 when approximately 20,000 refugees from Nazi Europe living in the Shanghai Ghetto began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

No longer did they see signs posted in the ghetto warning Jews not to leave their “Designated Area “, nor did one see anymore Japanese war propaganda on posters or commercial products. Shown in Figure one is an example of Japanese propaganda placed on the face of several matchboxes that circulated in the Shanghai Ghetto. The matches inside the box were used by our parents to light up the coal in the stove to keep them warm.

In Figure two we see a matchbox that illustrates a Japanese airplane flying above the US. flag with an explosion behind it. A bomb falling through a map of the United States is shown in Figure three.

 And President Franklin D. Roosevelt, dressed in rags riding a life raft and holding an American flag, is shown in Figure four. The remaining matchbox collection, with a few of the boxes severely burned or damaged, are shown in Figures five thru ten.

The matchboxes illustrated above soon became a collectible item in the ghetto and were used by our youth to play with and to trade them off with their peers.

After my parents settled in a relatively decent apartment in the early 40 ‘S while the going was still comparatively good, I noticed at my early age that all my British school chums suddenly disappeared. In 1943 the Japanese interned all the British and other allied enemy nationals in camps across the Whangpoo River in Pudong. Japan and Russia, as we recall, did not engage in hostilities until shortly before the war ended.

As a footnote, the Chinese robe my wife, Yvonne is wearing, shown in Figure eleven, while posing in front of a small oriental curio cabinet, was brought from Shanghai in 1949, and was given to my late mother as a gift from my step-father then to be, Victor Stummer.

The matchboxes were on loan from Andreas Heinsius, a Shanghailander now retired, and residing in Southern California.