Ho Feng-Shan°

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HO FENG-SHAN ° (1901–1997), Chinese diplomat in World War II; Righteous Among the Nations. In 1938, Ho served as the Chinese consul-general in Vienna. When Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany in March 1938, the 185,000 Jews there were subjected to a severe reign of terror, and for them to leave the country the Nazis required an entry visa or a boat ticket to another country. However, at the *Evian Conference, in April 1938, the nations of the world refused to budge from their restrictive immigration policies. In contrast to other diplomats, Ho Feng-Shan issued visas to China to all who requested it, even to persons who wished to travel elsewhere but needed to show a visa to be able to leave Nazi Germany. Many of those helped by Ho did indeed reach Shanghai, either by boat from Italy or overland via the Soviet Union. Many others availed themselves of the visa to reach other destinations, such as Palestine, Cuba, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Eric Goldstaub, one of the lucky recipients, who reached Canada, stated that he received a Chinese visa in July 1938 for his entire large family after "I spent days, weeks and months visiting one foreign consulate or embassy after the other trying to obtain visas for myself, my parents and our near relatives numbering some 20 people." Lilith-Sylvia Doron, in Israel, related that she met Ho by chance, as both watched Hitler's entry into Vienna on March 10, 1938, which was accompanied by physical attacks against the city's Jews. "Ho, who knew my family, accompanied me home. He claimed that thanks to his diplomatic status they would not dare harm us as long as he remained in our home. Ho continued to visit our home on a permanent basis to protect us from the Nazis." When Lilith's brother Karl was arrested and taken to the Dachau camp, he was released thanks to a visa from the Chinese consulate. The rush for visas assumed panic proportions during and immediately after Kristallnacht, in November 1938, when thousands of Jews were thrown into concentration camps and could only be released if their relatives produced visas or tickets for travel to other destinations. Gerda Gottfried Kraus, who reached Canada, testified that after Kristallnacht, her husband stood in a long line to be admitted into the Chinese consulate. Seeing a car approaching the Consulate's gates, he thrust his application form through the car's window. "Apparently, the consul-general received it, because [my husband] then got a call and received the visas." Ho refused to abide by the instructions of his superior, the Chinese ambassador in Berlin, Chen Jie, who forbade him to issue visas on such a large scale, estimated to run into the hundreds, perhaps even thousands. Again, it is worth remembering that although visas were not required for entrance to Shanghai, such a document was a prerequisite for Jews wishing to leave Nazi Germany. It is believed that the "demerit" which was entered into Ho's personal file in 1939 at the Chinese Foreign Ministry was linked to his insubordinate behavior on the issue of the visas toward his immediate superior, the ambassador in Berlin. After a long diplomatic career, Ho retired in 1973. It was only after his death that the story of his help to Jews was made public, through evidence submitted by survivors who benefited from Ho's aid. In 2000, Ho Feng-Shan was declared by Yad Vashem one of the Righteous Among the Nations.


Yad Vashem Archives m31–8688.

[Mordecai Paldiel (2nd ed.)]