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The articles in this issue have been divided upinto the following categories







My Experience in Shanghai during W.W.II

By Cathy Hardoon

At last I am sending you my article and apologise for not typing it. Although I have a computer, I need to take lessons. The children are so proficient but they have no time to come over and show me.

We were living in Shanghai, China during W.W.II in relative peace, when suddenly, on December 8th, 1941, the Japanese Army of Emperor Hirohito stealthily crept in and occupied the city while everyone was asleep. We woke up to find the usually quiet city swarming with gendarmes on motorcycles, presenting themselves to a shocked and unwary public.

Soon they issued edicts that we all had to adhere to under the penalty of law. All news from outside was censored. Short wave radios consequently, were prohibited. This was the only link to the outside world. We were only to hear what they wanted us to hear. Soon all British, French and American nationals were to sign up in preparation for internment at concentration camps since these were direct enemies of Japan, though non of them \had declared war on Japan. But the Japanese had their special agenda of conquering the south pacific and the Far East.
At any rate, the prospect of going to camp was extremely distressing especially to the elderly who had lived a very pampered life. Hitler's horrible deeds in Europe were known to us at the time, the idea of concentration camps was abhorrent to us. We later learned that the Japanese were working with the Nazis. All foreign businesses were closed and foreign currency was frozen and banned.
People were given a few weeks in which they were allowed from their accounts $500 a week for immediate expenses. The British banks quickly transferred their deposits and existing funds to England for safety and therefore freeing the money from the hands of the Japanese but at the same time leaving all their clients without funds. These funds were never recovered by the owners after the war. The situation was especially difficult for those who were left to fend for themselves from neutral countries and those, whose countries had only severed relations with Japan.

The Iraqis like ourselves, were in this category. The Japanese, following the German pattern, gave these people pink armbands to wear with "Iraq" written on them in Japanese. In this way they were immediately identifiable wherever they went. In fact, being of that nationality, we were issued these and had to wear them on our left arms.
Whenever we passed by soldiers, we were made to feel the butt of their jokes as they read our label aloud "ah so- Iraquoo" it seemed this predicament was extremely amusing for them. We were prohibited from working so that in itself presented a problem. My husband being of an enterprising nature devised ways of making a living through this difficult period.

He was a broker and dealt in foreign stocks and shares, which were now banned. He switched to Chinese shares, which were permitted and collaborated with his Chinese clients and friends who were pleased to keep working with him.

The news of atrocities by the Japanese army in the south pacific and the Philippine islands had preceded them and when they arrived in Shanghai, they sent shivers down our spines. However, luckily Shanghai was declared an "open city" by the Geneva Convention due to the fact that it was an international city and occupied by many nationals. That being the case, and still after much deliberation, the Japanese, in their occupation, were forced to tone down their excesses and activities. But to keep the populace on edge and under strict surveillance, they wanted, without prior notice barricade certain streets and surrounded people from all four sides so that they would be caught in the center unable to exit from any direction. They would then be subjected to a thorough search. If any contraband was found, the perpetrator would be crushed, incarcerated and tortured- made to suffer the consequences.
Now my husband had to wear his armband wherever he went. But in order to be able to conduct his business unobtrusively, he invariably removed it and placed it in his pocket. In this way he continued doing business with his colleagues. He used to carry gold bars in his especially long stockings due to the fact that these were banned and he was taking a great risk in trading in them. Once he had an almost disastrous encounter. He was at a small Chinese bank trying to conclude a certain transaction. His armband was off and the soldiers suddenly flooded the place without prior warning as usual and proceeded to search all who were present. He tried to think fast, quickly sliding to the back and slipping on the armband. Then he started praying. They finally got him and asked him what he was doing there. He told them that he just came to visit his friends. They hesitated a while and since they found nothing on him, they let him go with an admonition- not to congregate in banks.
He got out as fast as he could with a great sigh of relief. There were several times when he occasionally found himself in a barricaded street where he followed the same procedure of slipping the armband off and on which by the way became tattered and torn. He was in instant danger and every day was a harrowing experience. One day he had a very high fever with the flu and insisted in delivering some gold bars, which he said his client was waiting for. And if he didn’t get it to him in the appointed time, the client might well have a heart attack, as there was a large amount of money involved. They worked by word of mouth and nothing was written or documented. They all had a deep trust in each other and a promise had to be kept no matter what. As for myself I had to pray day to day that someone up there would watch over him and bring him home safely. He sat in a Rickshaw, his legs covered by a blanket and arrived safely. It was an extremely stressful time.

When the war was over, in August 1945, the Japanese disappeared from Shanghai as quickly as they had came. We suddenly saw the shining silver B-29's flying overhead and that was the first indication that the war was actually over- we were ecstatic- no more learning the Japanese language which was forced on all of us- as they had the grand illusion of conquering the world. Best of all we were free and did not have to worry about our safety any longer.

The interned folks returned home. Some died in the camps due to malnutrition and ill care. Some returned but did not live long afterward due to the extreme conditions they had to endure. The younger folk and the sturdy survived to start life over again in completely different circumstances.

We now had to counter the Communist threat, so relief was short lived. Mao-se Tung, their leader and his party were steadily approaching the big cities and provinces around the capitol of Nanking and Shanghai the port. We did not wait for them. My husband decided to wrap up our affairs and leave. By 1949, we were out of Shanghai and on our way to the Philippines and then to the USA. The rest of our community and all other nationals cleared out by 1951 and 1952. All properties and businesses in foreign hands were systematically confiscated by the new regime and Shanghai itself reverted to its original Chinese status according to the old treaty between the British, French, American, and the Chinese government as stipulated 100 years before.

After 1952, it was difficult to find a foreign face in the streets of Shanghai. It was a difficult concept to imagine for that city so fair and unique. In its time of splendour it had grown to become one of the biggest ports in the world where trade and commerce flourished and where men made their fortunes. Foreigners had arrived there in the middle of the 1800s built palaces, beautiful homes, hotels and large banks and conducted big business. Shanghai was called the "Paris of the East". Now all those who had worked, built and lived there together with their descendants had all returned to their respective homelands and left Shanghai a forlorn city, an empty shell.


On arrival in the US and Private Bill in Congress

The communist were marching down and progressing toward the big cities of China and we didn’t want to be there when they arrived in Shanghai. We were registered at the American consulate to immigrate to the US. My brother Isaac left Shanghai with a Yeshiva, as he had been studying with them for the Rabbinate. After WW II, they all left for the US. Isaac advised us repeatedly to come to the States. We had subsequently applied to the US consulate to immigrate. We were not aware that the quota for Iraqi subjects (100 a year) was considerably over subscribed. So our file lay dormant, as our number would have taken several years to come up. Besides this, the American consulate in Shanghai closed its doors and also we lost our passports. The Iraqi government has recently announced that all Iraqi persons who were away from their country for more then 15 years had to return otherwise they'd loose their citizenship. Our passports became void and we couldn’t travel. Luckily, Charlie had a brother in Paris and he asked him for help. His brother Yamen assured him he'd take care of the problem and not to worry. Yamen went to the Iraqi consulate where he had a friend and armed with our old passports and pictures, he mailed us new ones, which we received by return mail.

We left Shanghai on March 24, 1949. We had to go to the Philippines in order to get visas to the US. We were not able to procure our visas immediately, We had to use extreme patience. We lived in Manila for two years. The reason was that we had previously applied for immigration. We now had to apply for visitor's visas. It was difficult but we finally got in touch with a kind and generous Consul General who supplied us with needed documents. We arrived in the States as visitors. We came to Bayside immediately as Charlie's cousin lived there and he wanted us to be near him. So he and Charlie would conduct business together. This move was fortunate because it placed us in a position where we met some wonderful people who eventually helped us in our quest for a permanent visa. Our temporary visa kept expiring and we were supposed to leave the country. It was a very rough time for us as we kept having to go to Ellis Island for interrogation which kept us in extreme pressure.
Our son Ellis wore a yamulka and because of that a religious woman spotted him walking with Charlie and not having seen him before asked him where he was from and she finally came home to us and right away made me a member of "Mizrachi Women" and we became fast friends. We joined her groups which was the young Israel where we became Chartred Members. Now in this group there were several lawyers and one of them happened to know a Congressman 'Latham' who owed him a favour. Also a few people from the group went around the neighbourhood canvassing for signatures. They were able to collect 300 signatures on our behalf. This, the lawyer gave to the Congressman and asked him to sponsor a bill on our behalf so that we will be able to remain in the US. The Congressman promised to use his influence to introduce a private Bill saying that the family of Salih Hardoon is hereby welcome and favoured to stay, in the US as citizens. This had to be signed by the President. It took several sessions of Congress and of re-elections of Latham until our bill came up. Finally, it passed congress and then had to go to the Senate and finally signed by the president in 1956. President Eisenhower signed it and we became American citizens by Act of Congress. Finally we were able to start a business which he did with his cousin and a friend we met in Manila. They saw an ad about a sale of Lingerie factory, which they bought. This is how we started our business. Eventually they parted and Charlie went on his own and the business prospered. We manufactured ladies lingerie and Charlie was busy with this work for 38 years until he retired. It wasn’t his most favourite thing to do as he was never in a factory in his life. But he picked it up as he went along. He actually worked as a stockbroker and that’s his favourite type of work. This was not possible for a new resident in America. But we all got used to it and all the family worked in the factory during the summer vacations and they all did well.

June 1943: Charlie and Cathy Hardoon with Japanese armbands

Augsut 15 1940: Tennis Party, Shahmoon's Garden- standing left to right: Cathy Levy, Renee Dangoor, Rosie Jacob and Rosie Cohen.
Bottom, left to right: Katie Toeg, Sophie Cohen and Joyce Dangoor

Shanghai 1941: Charlie and his business associates. Charlie- front row, 3rd from right




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