Shanghai Ghetto
Credit: Shanghai Ghetto: Courtesy of Leo Beck Institute

Shanghai Ghetto


Nothing is exceptional about Shanghai Ghetto, a documentary by Dana Janklowicz-Mann and Amir Mann, except the story itself: For a time, Shanghai was the only spot on the map that would accept German-Jewish refugees fleeing without visas from the advancing death sentence of the Nazis. When the ghetto proper was established in 1943, some 20,000 refugees were squeezed into the already teeming, impoverished Hongkow district, sharing misery with their Chinese neighbors under Japanese occupation. Only when the war ended did the displaced wanderers realize that they were the lucky ones, and that most of the families they left behind in Europe were wiped out.

Janklowicz-Mann’s father, Harold Janklowicz, was one of those refugees. His ardent testimony, along with that of several other articulate former ghetto residents, makes vivid what is otherwise a heartfelt but rudimentary production assembled out of the unadorned building blocks of a hundred such worthy projects: primary interviews with participants, hard-won archival material, expert commentary, evocative music, and respectful celebrity narration (in this case, by Martin Landau).

Shanghai Ghetto
  • Movie
  • 95 minutes