Ho Feng Shan: A man of compassion, courage

Updated: 2015-04-24 11:18

By May Zhou(China Daily USA)

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Ho Feng Shan: A man of compassion, courage

A period photo of Dr. Ho Feng Shan when he was consul general of China to Vienna, circa 1938. Photos Provided to China Daily

Next week, the Holocaust Museum of Houston will honor Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Europe. Yet while Ho Feng Shan was alive, nobody, not even his family, was aware of the scope of what he had done, May Zhou reports from Houston.

On April 21, an historic ceremony took place in Vienna. A bronze plaque was unveiled at the luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel to commemorate the heroism of a Chinese diplomat more than seven decades ago.

Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese consul general to Vienna from 1938 to 1940, was one of the first foreign officials to save Jews from the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Europe. It was only after his death in 1997 that the story of his humanitarian feat - buried for six decades - finally came to light. In July 2000, Israel bestowed the title of Righteous Among the Nations, one of its highest honors, on Ho Feng Shan "for his humanitarian courage" in the rescue of Jews.

Next week, on this side of the Atlantic, the Holocaust Museum of Houston (HMH) will honor Ho Feng Shan with the Lyndon Johnson Moral Courage Award. The award will be accepted by his daughter, Ho Manli, on April 30.

"To recognize a Chinese person for contributions in the European Theater in this 70th anniversary year of the end of World War II is historic, both in Vienna, where the rescues of Jews took place, and in America, where many of the survivors found new lives after the war," said Ho Manli in a recent interview from San Francisco.

The tri-lingual commemorative plaque in German, Chinese and English was placed at the site of the former Chinese Consulate General building in Vienna, now part of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. It was from this location, following the Anschluss, or union of Germany and Austria in March 1938, that Ho Feng Shan began issuing visas to the Chinese port city of Shanghai, helping thousands of Jews escape from the Nazis.

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