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Remembrance Day commemorated in Beijing

The story of over 18,000 Jews being saved from Nazi persecution by taking refuge in Shanghai led the programme of events to mark Remembrance Day 2019 for the conference ‘China and the Shoah’, which was organised by the Beijing Cultural Institute. Presentations were made by Elisa Maria Giunipero of the Italian Association of Chinese Studies (AISC) and Associate Professor of Chinese History at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and Pan Guang, Professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Director of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization). They reconstructed the atmosphere of the Paris of the East in the 1930s, from the arrival of the Japanese up to when the first ghetto was built. Hong Feng Shan was also remembered at the conference, the Chinese Consul General in Vienna during the Second World War who had thousands of Austrian Jews expatriated to Shanghai by granting them visas between 1938 and 1939. He was awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations in 2000. In 2018, Italy honoured his memory with a square in the heart of the Milan neighbourhood of Sarpi, home to a large Chinese community, by placing a tree and plate in the Giardino dei Giusti in Monte Stella in Milan. The programme of events organised by the Cultural Institute will end on 30 January in Beijing with the screening of Ruggiero Gabbai’s film “Eravamo Italiani” (“We Were Italian”). The documentary gathered witness accounts from Italian survivors who began to tell their stories as part of the Library of the Memory of the CDEC – Jewish Contemporary Documentation Centre project after the death of Primo Levi. The film uses an authentic, intimate narrative techniqiue to trace back over the tragic events of the Holocaust, in places where deportation, arrests and extermination took place. It was produced to mark the Italian presidency of the HRA – International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance organised by the delegation of the HRA, the MEIS – National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah, and the CDEC.

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