The Story of Shanghai
As told by a Young Refugee Lady
Who was living in the Ghetto


















Ralph Harpuder


Eva Richter’s observations of a people and their surroundings, in a far away city from her homeland, with inhabitants devastated by war and suppression, were put into an article by her immediately after the war.

   Her foresight, of a city to become a modern and prosperous metropolis that was once a haven for 18,000 fleeing Jewish refugees, is evidenced today by its industrial growth and prosperity.

   Eva contributed her report to the “Fortune” - a bulletin published in December of 1947 by the Shanghai Jewish Youth Community Center, located at the SJYA School (Shanghai Jewish Youth Association School) also known as Kadoorie School.

   To better describe Eva‘s account of what she witnessed in Shanghai, photos and postcards, mostly from the 30‘s, have been included by yours truly in this report, making it a photo essay for study, reminiscing, and for future reference. She wrote:

Shanghai is a town of great contrasts. There are quarters where you see beautiful shops (figure one), splendid office buildings (figure two), parks (figure three), and up to date residences of the rich (figure four), while in the other parts, the horror of disease, poverty and hunger (figure five) are openly seen. There is a big difference between the modern limousines of 1946 from the States (figure six), the overcrowded street cars, and buses (figure seven), and the old fashioned rickshaws (figure eight), which have existed for ages.

   “You really wonder about the justice of the destiny when you compare the crowded, filthy junks on the Wangpoo River (figure nine) with the people coming and going from the Cathay and Palace Hotel (figure 10). There are Chinese who own millions of dollars in the form of beautiful department stores (figure 11), with colorful show windows and hundreds of employees, while countless beggars are starving and freezing in the streets (Please, refer back to figure five.) Some Chinese have almost entirely adapted the Western customs; they dress smart and fashionable (figure 12), speak English perfectly, feel at ease in foreign company, and have business relations with them. Others adhere strictly to their old traditions, do not eat any bread or any other foreign food (figure 13), dress after their fashion (figure 14), are superstitious, and keep the ancient holidays. The children of the lower class have no pleasant childhood and education; they start work at an early age and quickly learn the ways of business (figure 15). The children of the rich class, however, go to schools and colleges and are as educated as any Westerner (figure16).

   “Chinese houses are always overcrowded (figure 17) and if there is a family scene, it is a free show for all. Generally it may be stated that the lower class people do everything on the street, from eating to hairdressing (figure 18). Although the average Chinese is not as skilled in mental work as a foreigner (for reasons already mentioned in my opening paragraph), not to lose his face means everything to him: He will fight and steal for it.
   “The Chinese are excellent workers under competent guidance (figure 19), but lack initiative of their own (a typical stereotype believe in those days). The saying that “a Chinese works for a bowl of rice a day” is no longer true, but if you know how to treat him, you can make a devoted friend and worker out of him (figure 20). But never say anything bad about one Chinese to another because only you will suffer and be the loser, as you will never be forgiven.

   "For a foreigner there are often strange sights in China. We wonder at the weirdness (from a foreigners cultural viewpoint) of a funeral march (figure 21), wedding (figure 22), or the processions on the Chinese New Year holidays.

   “Some day, East and West will get better acquainted and overcome the present difficulties. The differences will gradually submerge into each other and Shanghai will be a modern and prosperous metropolis (figure 23).”

   A word must be said about the command of the English language possessed by this young lady. It is testimony to the well-rounded education we received in our formative years under the most trying and strenuous circumstances