A documentary about Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe who, at a time when all doors were closed to them, found sanctuary in Shanghai, thanks to the intervention of Chinese diplomat Ho Feng ...
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A documentary about Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe who, at a time when all doors were closed to them, found sanctuary in Shanghai, thanks to the intervention of Chinese diplomat Ho Feng Shan who as Chinese consul in Vienna defied the Nazis and his own government by issuing travel visas to the desperate refugees. The film tells the story from the point of view of the refugees and the Chinese people who sheltered them. In light of today's refugee crisis, an inspiring poetic tale about two peoples who found common cause and dignity in a world in chaos.
Above the Drowning Sea addresses and interweaves five topics, and does so beautifully and intelligently - Refugees; the lives of Jews in Austria as Hitler was gaining power; Ho Feng Shan, the "Chinese Schindler" who virtually single-handedly saved the lives of thousands of Jews; the exodus of Jews to Shanghai during the Nazi era; and finally, what happened to these Jews after they got to Shanghai. I saw this film in a packed movie theatre, and could tell that many were moved by it by the stifled sniffles and quiet sobs. I stayed quiet, unless I unknowingly made some noise wiping away my tears. But as the credits started rolling I burst into applause, same as a lot of people.
It's not clear from the film how many visas Mr. Ho - the Chinese consulate general in Vienna at the time - issued to Jews trying to flee Nazi enslavement, but according to Wikipedia, Mr. Ho "risked his life and career to save more than 3,000 Jews by issuing them visas, disobeying the instruction of his superiors." According to an article in China Daily, Mr. Ho's daughter Ho Manli said that close to 4,000 visas were issued about a year after the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March of 1938. "How many more were issued in the remaining months before the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, when routes of escape began to shut down, is hard to determine, she added."
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