Hubs of Resettlement: the case of Shanghai

‘From Safe Haven to the Starting Point of a Renewed Odyssey? Shanghai as a Hub for the Resettlement of ‘Displaced Persons’ between 1945 and 1951’

With Japan's formal surrender on September 2, 1945, the Second World War ended in the Pacific region and thus also for the approximately 16,000 to 18,000 European Nazi persecutees who had found refuge from the National Socialist regime in the port city of Shanghai. Soon afterwards, the Chinese national government set its course regarding the treatment of the German-speaking exile population: All ‘Germans, ex-Austrians and German Jews’ living in China were de facto ordered to leave the country. For those affected by this policy on foreign nationals and ‘stateless persons’, this meant that they had no prospects of remaining in China. At the same time, the people now categorised as ‘Displaced Persons’ (DPs) initially had no exit options available to them in this post-war disorder. Civilian shipping had collapsed, the infrastructure had been destroyed, and the restrictive entry regulations still in force in many countries posed an additional obstacle. As humanitarian relief measures took priority, the Shanghai office of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) only gradually began to administratively organise the repatriation and, later on, the resettlement of ‘DPs’. This dissertation project investigates the specific migration regimes that were constituted in Shanghai after the end of the Second World War while taking into consideration their implications for the resettlement efforts of Nazi persecutees who had fled Vienna from 1938 onwards and were now categorised as ‘Displaced Persons’. The study focuses on the analysis of agency, power relations, and the associated processes of power formation and negotiation in the respective location- and time-specific resettlement situations. The multi-level concept of migration regimes thus serves as a model for describing decentralised power structures. Based on primary sources, this dissertation project tries to uncover how the negotiation processes were structured, which actions reflected the exercised agency of the ‘DPs’ involved, and which strategies of actions they pursued

Elisabeth Czerniak, BA MA