Shanghai Ghetto

Dana Janklowicz-Mann and Amir Mann’s fascinating 2002 documentary focuses on a little-known historical sidebar of World War IIthe Jewish settlements in Shanghai, which included about 20,000 German Jews (who were able to emigrate there without passport control) and Jews from Baghdad and Russia who’d already settled there. Basically a talking-head film in English, augmented by period photographs and footage of a recent return trip by many German Jews, this was visibly shot on digital video, but that fact stopped bothering me once I became absorbed in the material, which was very quickly. Especially interesting are the complex relations among the residents of the ghetto, their amicable Chinese neighbors (many of whom were even poorer than the Jews), the Japanese soldiers occupying the city, and the more well-to-do Iraqi Jews (who were British subjects) and Americans; these last two groups eventually wound up in internment camps outside the city. 95 min. (JR)

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