It was a fearful time for the Jews of Austria. After Austria’s annexation to Nazi Germany in March 1938 its 185,000 Jews were subjected to a reign of terror. For many Austrian Jews- leaving was not an option. The Nazis required that Jews have entry visas or boat tickets to another country. At a time when most nations refused to take Jewish refugees, the Chinese consul-general in Vienna Feng-Shan Ho issued visas to Shanghai to all who asked. Going against the orders of his superior, it is estimated that Dr. Ho saved thousands of Jewish lives, by allowing them to seek refuge in Shanghai.
Ho's actions were recognized posthumously when he was awarded the title Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2000
Dr. Ho died at 97, in San Francisco. The Chinese Historical Society of America will be featuring an exhibit next month on Dr. Ho- Wings of the Phoenix: Dr. Feng Shan Ho and the Rescue of Austrian Jews, 1938-1940.
His daughter, Manli Ho is working on a book, and has been has been researching and documenting her late father’s humanitarian work in Vienna, Austria, for the past 15 years She created and wrote the text for the exhibit at the Historical Society.
This free exhibit runs from June 1 – July 1 at the Chinese Historical Society of America, 965 Clay Street, San Francisco.
From the China Daily, written by Manli Ho:
"During my 10-year pursuit of a history that has been buried for more than half a century, I was often asked why a Chinese diplomat would save Jews in Austria when others would not. My response has been: "If you knew my father, you wouldn't have to ask." That is usually followed by: "But weren't you surprised to discover this facet of your father?" No, I was not surprised because what my father did was completely in character.
My father's greatest legacy was to be who he was. He was a scholar and a gentleman, a product of his culture and of the times in which he lived, the likes of which we will never see again. But more importantly, he was a person who was never false, whose honor and integrity, whose strength of will, whose faith and optimism always shone through - and that was part of his charisma. He was loved and respected not just for what he was, but for who he was as a human being.
My father always felt that he had received a full measure of gifts. He was brilliant, fearless, charming and dynamic. He was also incorruptible, straightforward and conscientious. He possessed a hot temper - which I always attributed to his love for the hot peppers of Hunan. Among his most admirable traits was his capacity for love and for compassion. Most importantly, my father believed that these gifts were not bestowed upon him solely for his personal benefit, but for that of his fellow men."