Statue depicting city's Jewish refugee role unveiled at museum

Lin Lixin
Inspired by the novel "Song of Survivors," it represents the moment when a family who escaped Nazi oppression finally left Shanghai in 1948.
Lin Lixin
Shot by Lin Lixin. Edited by Lin Lixin. Subtitles by Lin Lixin.

A statue commemorating Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II was unveiled in Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum today.

It was inspired by the novel "Song of Survivors," written by Chinese-Canadian writer Bei La. It has been regarded as the Shanghai version of "Gone With the Wind."

The novel, published in 2019, tells the story of a Jewish couple, Michael Medavoy and Dora Medavoy, fleeing Nazi oppression and their lives in Shanghai in the late 1930s.

The statue depicts the moment when the family reluctantly left Shanghai in 1948. It represents how Jews away from home adopted Shanghai from the bottom of their hearts.

The couple's son Mike Medavoy, now a celebrated Hollywood producer, was born in Shanghai in 1941. He has been involved in more than 300 feature films, eight of which have won Best Picture Oscars.

The statue, a namesake of the novel, was designed and created by sculptor Lu Qizhang, who studied abroad in Russia and is now a teacher at East China Normal University.

It took Lu two years to create the statue. It is 2.8 meters long, 1 meter wide and 2.6 meters high, and weighs 5 tons.

"After discussion with Bei, we agreed to create the touching scene of the family leaving Shanghai at the dock, which is also the ending of the novel," Lu said, "It better shows the profound relationship between them and the city."

"Shanghai and China provided a shelter for Jews during World War II. We'll never forget," Mor Ben Moshe, Israel's deputy consul general in Shanghai, said at the ceremony.

Bei became familiar with the Medavoy family when she was living in the US. Dora Medavoy always told Bei to take her back to Shanghai in dialect, even at the moment before she died at 95.

Bei said that Mike Medavoy is writing an autobiography, including his memory of Shanghai.

The statue will be exhibited in front of the White Horse Inn opposite the museum in the future.

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day as designated by the United Nations. Shanghai provided shelter for about 20,000 Jewish refugees during the war.

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