An exhibit currently on view through Dec. 14 at UCLA Hillel tells the story of more than 20,000 Jewish men, women, and children who were shielded from persecution and death in the Holocaust by living in a "Designated Area for Stateless Refugees," a one-square mile area in the Hongkou district of Japanese-occupied Shanghai.
Among the photographs, documents, and other artifacts showcased in "Jewish Refugees in Shanghai (1933-1941)," are several other relics of this little-known chapter in history that bring the story closer to home, thanks to Julie Kalmar, a graduate student in the Department of Information Studies.
Graduate student Julie Kalmar with William Hant, a researcher in UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Hant, whose family left Vienna for Shanghai in 1939, lived in the international settlement until 1947.
With the support of several UCLA entities, including the UCLA Confucius Institute, the Center for Chinese Studies, the Dortort Center for Creativity and the Arts at UCLA Hillel, Kalmar worked with local Shanghailanders and lovingly accepted and cared for their loan of personal artifacts that she prepared for the exhibit. By listening to their recollections, she was able to gain a personal window onto the indomitable spirit of human survival in the face of life-threatening adversity.
"I became very attached to them, and they were so trusting," said Kalmar, who is earning her post-master’s degree certificate in archival studies and is currently a graduate student staff member in Special Collections at the UCLA Charles E. Young Library. "They’re thrilled to be a part of telling the stories of how they survived in these very unique circumstances."
To read this story, go to Ampersand, the online magazine of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.