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Shoah: Jews fled from Vienna to China on ships from Trieste

On Lloyd's vessels, Adriatic shipyards were at the forefront

18 January, 18:07
(ANSA) - BELGRADE, JAN 18 - An odyssey with a happy ending, now forgotten by most in our country, from Vienna to Shanghai, via Trieste, which allowed thousands of Austrian Jews to escape Nazi persecution and take refuge by ship in China, passing through Italy.

This story will be commemorated at the Italian Cultural Institute in Vienna on January 19, on the anniversary of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, by a small exhibition and by the conference "Vienna-Trieste-Shanghai. A Journey of Memory," promoted by the Italian Embassy. The forum will make it possible to recall the story of the approximately 15,000 Jews, mainly from Vienna, who escaped from the Nazis and fled to China through Italy.

The Jews first managed to leave Austria and arrive in Trieste but also in Genoa, where they embarked on Lloyd Triestino ships for Shanghai, even though racist laws were already in force in Italy. The Shanghai International Concessions was the only port in the world that allowed visa-free entry. The role of the Chinese consul in Vienna, Ho Feng Shan, a "Schindler" who risked his life and career to help Jews leave Austria, is critical in the whole affair. The next stop was Italy, which was already at the forefront of shipbuilding in the past, for example, with Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico and Fincantieri today. At that time, Lloyd Triestino guaranteed the line connection with famous ocean liners, which in the case of the Viennese Jews, literally became ships of salvation.

Salvation materialized in the "pearl of the Orient," the city of Shanghai, which housed a small but influential Sephardic community that assisted refugees arriving from Europe. The story of Jewish refugees risked not having a happy ending with the Japanese occupation of 1941. The Japanese confined the Jews in a ghetto in 1943. That was the last ghetto in history, but none of them perished and most managed to emigrate to the United States, Canada, Australia, and Israel after the war. (ANSA).

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