UN offices in post-war Shanghai - Our Passports
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  • Post-war IRO & UNRRA Shanghai office.
  • Post-war IRO & UNRRA Shanghai office refugee material
  • UN offices in post-war Shanghai
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  • UN offices in post-war Shanghai
  • Post-war IRO & UNRRA Shanghai office
  • UN offices in post-war Shanghai
  • WW2 Jewish passport visa for Shanghai
  • WW2 Shanghai Ghetto
  • WW2 Shanghai refugees JOINT
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UN offices in post-war Shanghai

Post-war material for visa & travel documents.


Due to extensive interest this article has brought in the past, I have published it here again.


The end of World War Two in Asia brought to an end the suffering that had plagued mankind for over six years. The Asian conflict had brought carnage and suffering to countless victims. The end of hostilities meant that thousands of civilians, from all parts of the globe, were now free from tyranny and enslavement; and that countless of displaced persons and refugees where in need of assistance and help from the international community, from the victors; be it help in the form of basic commodities that were needed to sustain the minimal conditions for day to day living or assistance in arranging and fixing of the proper documentation that would allow each individual to return back home, to be repatriated back to his country.


Following the end of hostilities, the Allies with the assistance of international welfare organizations, such as the United Nations and the JOINT, established offices and camps throughout Asia for the thousands of refugees now located in nearly every major large city: Manila, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tianjin, Mukden (沈阳), Harbin, Guangzhou and Shanghai.


During the war Shanghai housed thousands of refugees: native Chinese and European as well. A large portion of the latter originated from pre-war Nazi Germany and also those who fled the war in Europe, for example, hundreds of Polish Jews that fled via Siberia to Japan and from there, towards the end of 1941, deported to the city of Shanghai. In 1943 the occupying Japanese established the notorious “Jewish Ghetto”, with the encouragement of their German axis partner (one individual who was active in the city was Josef Meisinger, a high ranking SD agent and Gestapo liaison at the German embassy in Tokyo from 1941 up to May of 1945; and he was very active in trying to “implement the final solution’ on the 20,000 German Jews that found refugee in Shanghai, but without success).


The Ghetto was located in the north-eastern section of the city and had Jewish guards at entry and exit points, special identity cards that were issued to the foreigners in the city even had the Japanese character for JEW affixed on it, circled stamp in red, to indicate the holders “status”. But, thank god, the difference between this ghetto and those in Europe was obvious and clear with no persecution of its inhabitants.


As the war ended, and with the entry of Chinese & Allied forces into all formerly controlled cities by the Japanese, and as mentioned above, UN and IRO offices and facilities were established.


The items in this article are not actual travel documents but rather the documentation that was issued and used internally by the offices of the International Refugee Organization & United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in the process of arranging and issuing of the proper visaed travel documents for the refugees who wanted to leave China.


I have added a sample of images of actual vouchers that were issued by the above mentioned organizations that were needed, internally, to be used for payment for visa applications for the end users. Visas that enabled the travelers to leave China and enter, for example, the colony of Hong Kong, or to travel to other destinations such as Australia, Belgium and Holland. Without the payments for those applications it was not possible, at the end, to arrange for the right documentation that was needed for leaving.


I have also added sample images of the following documents:


  • Chinese visa issued in 1939 from Berlin for traveling to Shanghai;
  • Registration of a Jewish holders passport inside the Shanghai Ghetto from 1943;
  • JOINT document from Shanghai for allocation of clothing to a Jewish refugee from 1949;
  • Post-war 1950 Jewish Community of Shanghai attestation to internment at the Ghetto;
  • “German Affairs Commission” from Shanghai that handled all matters relating to German nationals in post-war Shanghai, since the German embassy had closed down following the surrender and end of the war.




Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.

Neil Kaplan
  • George Kulstad

    I was fascinated by the dates shown on the IRO & UNRRA documents, apparently for funds disbursed for visa applications. The first one I noted was of Olga Orlova, dated December 31, 1953, but there were many others dated years after May 1949, when the Communist People’s Liberation Army captured Shanghai. I left Shanghai in September 1949 on the SS General Gordon with the belief that the foreign residents would leave Shanghai as soon as they could. Obviously, many could not leave for financial reasons or for not having the requisite visas. I write about my own difficulty in getting a visa in my recently published memoir “A Foreign Kid in World War II Shanghai” as well as being taken to the Ghetto for a pair of shoes to be made by Mr. Gold, whose jovial personality I remember to this day. Anyone could enter the Ghetto at any of the numerous openings. Leaving it was a different matter for the unfortunate residents.

    November 13, 2015 at 8:24 pm

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