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Rediscovering a Chinese legend: The untold wartime tale of Dr Li Linsi

By Taylor Wong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-07-07 13:50

Aiding Jewish people in the Isolated Island period

During the Isolated Island period in Shanghai, Li's family lived on Ximo Road in the Shanghai International Settlement, an area which was not occupied by Japanese invaders, but in control of the British and American forces.

As a prestigious figure in China's cultural and diplomatic circles, while at the invitation of his friend He Bingsong, Li was engaged as a professor at the Jinan National University – the first university in China to recruit foreign students.

During this period, a huge number of Jewish people, mainly from Germany and Austria, fled to Shanghai to escape the Nazis. Li had a reputation for helping these people transition into Shanghai's Jewish community.

Using his personal connections and resources, Li helped to make Shanghai a better place for those Jewish refugees. For a long period, Shanghai remained the only place in the world which unconditionally offered refuge for Jewish people fleeing the Nazis.

Li was deeply moved by the tragedy of these people and contributed as much as he could to the Jewish community as a better-off local who spent more than a decade in Germany. He even sheltered several Jewish refugees who were friends of his in Germany.

With the aid of Li and other wealthy natives, a modern Jewish community emerged: more housing for Jewish refugees was arranged, businesses established, German publications circulated, and even an orchestra formed. Shanghai became a rare bright spot for Jewish people in the dark plight of that age.

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