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Ho Feng-Shan ( , sometimes translated as He Fengshan), born in Yiyangmarker, Hunanmarker September 10, 1901 (some sources give 1904) – died in San Franciscomarker, September 28, 1997, was a Chinesemarker diplomat who saved hundreds, probably thousands of Jews during the early years of World War II. He is known as "China’s Schindler".

Biography

Dr. Ho was born in a poor family, and his father died when Ho was 7 years old. Being a diligent and hard-working student, he managed to enter the Yali School in the provincial capital of Changshamarker, and later Yale-in-China University. He went to Munich Universitymarker in 1926, and took his Ph.D. in political economics in 1932.

In 1935, Ho Feng-Shan started his diplomatic career within the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Chinamarker (ROC). His first posting was in Turkeymarker. He was appointed First Secretary at the Chinese legation in Viennamarker in 1937. When Austriamarker was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, and the legation was turned into a consulate, Ho was assigned the post of Consul-General.

After the "Kristallnacht" in 1938, the situation became rapidly more difficult for the almost 200,000 Austrian Jews. The only way for Jews to escape from Nazism was to leave Europe. In order to leave, they had to provide proof of emigration, usually a visa from a foreign nation, or a valid boat ticket. This was difficult, however, because at the 1938 Evian Conference 32 countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, all refused to accept Jewish immigrants due to their fear of Nazi Germany. Acting against the orders of his superior Chen Jie (陳介), the Chinese ambassador to Berlinmarker, Ho started to issue visas to Shanghai for humanitarian reasons. At the time it was not necessary to have a visa to enter Shanghai, but the visas allowed the Jews to leave Austria. Many Jewish families left for Shanghai, whence most of them would later leave for Hong Kongmarker and Australia. Ho continued to issue these visas until he was ordered to return to China in May 1940.

The exact number of visas given by Dr. Ho to Jewish refugees is unknown. It is known that Dr.Ho issued the 200th visa in June 1938, and signed 1906th on October 27, 1938. How many Jews were saved through his actions is unknown, but given that Ho issued nearly 2,000 visas only during his first half year at his post, the number may be in the thousands.

Later, Ho Feng-Shan served as the Republic of Chinamarker's (ROC) ambassador to other countries, including Egyptmarker, Mexicomarker, Boliviamarker, and Colombiamarker. After his retirement in 1973, Ho settled in San Francisco in the United Statesmarker, where he wrote his memoirs, 40 Years of my Diplomatic Life (外交生涯四十年) published in 1990.

After his retirement in 1973, the ROC on Taiwanmarker denied Ho his pension on the grounds that he had "not properly accounted for" the equivalent of USD300 in embassy expenses. These charges are widely believed to have been politically motivated. Despite repeated appeals, the ROC government in Taiwan has not exonerated him.

In the 1980s, he returned several times to Mainland Chinamarker and also visited his alma mater in Changsha during its 80th anniversary in 1986. In 1985 he was, perhaps wrongly, impeached by the ROC government in Taiwan for embezzlement (said to have taken place in 1970).

Ho Feng-Shan died in San Franciscomarker at the age of 96.

Awards

Ho's actions in Vienna went unnoticed during his lifetime, save for a black mark in his personnel file for disobeying orders; but they were recognized posthumously when he was awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations by the Israelimarker organization Yad Vashemmarker in 2001. He is the second of only two Chinese to be given this honor; the first was Pan Jun Shun.

See also



References

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