First and only edition of a rare volume of sketches and notes documenting daily life in the Shanghai Ghetto during the war years.
The artist Friedrich Schiff (1908-1968), born in Vienna into a Jewish family, had already emigrated to Shanghai in 1929. At first he worked as a portrait painter, but "his talents were quickly recognized by both Chinese and foreign interests [...] As a book illustrator and a cartoonist of Chinese- and English-language newspapers and magazines, Schiff [...] portrayed the cosmopolitan life he saw around him", as Nancy Berliner notes.
When Japan occupied Shanghai, the Japanese army forced some 23.000 Jewish refugees, who had fled from the Nazis or the Japanese, to be restricted in a small area in the Hongkew district, which became known as the Shanghai Ghetto, formally the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees. The present volume features many lively cartoon sketches as well as several photographs and texts (including quotations from newspapers) documenting life in the ghetto.
As the authors remark, "The emigrant's life is a hard one. He must, somehow, squeeze through and his methods are not always popular. But if you look behind the surface you meet worries, poverty, misery. However, the "Jude-man" belongs to a strong race. Through centuries his system has developed anti-toxins to hardships. He wants to survive. And he did."
WorldCat lists only a handful of copies and it rarely comes on the market.
This copy comes from the collection of ambassador and diplomat Roland van den Berg (1930-2019), who was subsequently posted to Beijing, Seoul, again Beijing and finally to Tokio. It further has an inscription by "Dr. Jan van den Berg", who served as Dutch ambassador in Cape Town in the 1960s.
Schiff's sketches documenting life in the Shanghai Ghetto during the war years
Friedrich Schiff & Paula Eskelund.
Squeezing through. Shanghai Sketches 1941-1945.
[Shanghai], Hwa Kuo Printing Co., .