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China and Inner Asia
Central European Refugee Diasporas in Republican China: The Shanghai Hungarian Relief Fund And The Roots Of The Jewish Refugee Assistance (1924-1940)
Individual Paper Presenter(s)
New York University, United States
Republican China’s struggle for unity and sovereignty coincided with the country’s unprecedented internationalization. In addition to the looming presence of powerful and privileged foreigners, the Nanjing Government faced the challenge of administering destitute refugees from Europe. The history of Russian and Jewish communities in modern China has come to the fore in recent years. Primal home to such destitute groups, Shanghai’s status as an international city in the Republican Era is well known. By covering the history of the Shanghai Hungarian Relief Fund and the individuals involved in its operations, this paper aims to shed light on the organizational and personal links that connect the assistance offered to two waves of refugees from Habsburg Central Europe to Republican China. The author argues that the humanitarian experience accumulated over the 1920s’ relief for the ex-Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war, prepared Shanghai’s Central European community leaders for the more massive Jewish refugee crisis in the 1930s. In particular, the Hungarian Relief Fund, created by Hungarians of the interwoven post-Habsburg diasporas, explored the avenues of assistance and protection for stateless persons and non-treaty nationals in Republican China. A truly transnational history of the Central European refugee relief is presented here, focusing on Paul Komor and his fellows’ philanthropic involvement before the Jewish refugee relief efforts. By exploring this intersection of Jewish, Hungarian, and Chinese histories, listeners will gain insight into the prehistory of the Shanghai Jewish refugee relief, Hungarian diaspora politics and the administration of foreign communities in Republican Era-China.