Ho Feng-Shan (traditional Chinese: 何鳳山; simplified Chinese: 何凤山; pinyin: Hé Fèngshān 10 September 1901 – 28 September 1997) was a Chinese diplomat for the Republic of China. When he was consul-general in Vienna during World War II, he risked his life and career to save "perhaps tens of thousands" of Jews by issuing them visas, disobeying the instruction of his superiors. It is known that Ho issued the 200th visa in June 1938, signed the 1906th visa on 27 October 1938, and was recalled to China in May 1940. Ho died in 1997 and his actions were recognized posthumously when the Israeli organization Yad Vashem in 2000 decided to award him the title "Righteous Among the Nations".
Ho Feng-Shan was born on 10 September 1901 in Yiyang, Hunan Province, China. His father died when Ho was 7 years old. A diligent and hard-working student, he managed to enter the Yali School in the provincial capital of Changsha and later Yale-in-China University. He attended the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1929 and received his doctorate in political economics in 1932.
During World War II
In 1935, Ho started his diplomatic career within the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of China. His first posting was in Turkey. He was appointed First Secretary at the Chinese legation in Vienna in 1937. When Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, and the legation was turned into a consulate, Ho was assigned the post of Consul-General.
After the Kristallnacht in 1938, the situation became rapidly more difficult for the almost 200,000 Austrian Jews. The only way for Jews to escape from Nazism was to leave Europe. In order to leave, they had to provide proof of emigration, usually a visa from a foreign nation, or a valid boat ticket. This was difficult, however, because at the 1938 Évian Conference 31 countries (out of a total of 32, which included Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) refused to accept Jewish immigrants. The only country willing to accept Jews was the Dominican Republic, which offered to accept up to 100,000 refugees. Acting against the orders of his superior Chen Jie (陳介), the Chinese ambassador to Berlin, Ho started to issue visas, for humanitarian reasons, to Shanghai, part of which during this time was still under the control of the Republic of China. Twelve hundred visas were issued by Ho in only the first three months of holding office as Consul-General.
At the time it was not necessary to have a visa to enter Shanghai, but the visas allowed the Jews to leave Austria. Many Jewish families left for Shanghai, whence most of them would later leave for Hong Kong and Australia. Ho continued to issue these visas until he was ordered to return to China in May 1940. The exact number of visas given by Ho to Jewish refugees is unknown. It is known that Ho issued the 200th visa in June 1938, and signed the 1906th visa on 27 October 1938. How many Jews were saved through his actions is unknown, but given that Ho issued nearly 2,000 visas only during his first half year at his post, the number may be in the thousands.
After the war
After the Communist victory in 1949, Ho followed the Nationalist government to Taiwan. He later served as the ambassador from Republic of China (Taiwan) to other countries, including to Egypt, Mexico, Bolivia, and Colombia. After his retirement in 1973, Ho settled in San Francisco, California, where he wrote his memoirs, My Forty Years as a Diplomat (外交生涯四十年) published in 1990. His son Monto Ho produced an abridged English translation in 2010.
After his retirement in 1973, the government of Taiwan denied Ho a pension on the grounds, common then, that he had been subpoenaed and refused to cooperate with Diplomatic Services, and had not properly accounted for a small sum in an embassy expense account. These charges are now widely believed to have been politically motivated. The ROC government has never exonerated him as there were many diplomats leaving their posts without authorization. He did not report to work and he was terminated without a pension. This was the policy when tens of embassies were closed. He returned to his native China and visited his alma mater in Changsha for the school's 80th anniversary in 1986. A shadow was cast over his later years by impeachment by Taipei's Committee on the Discipline of Public Functionaries for having allegedly misappropriated funds when ambassador to Colombia in 1970, charges which he claimed were concocted by a subordinate he had refused to recommend for promotion. However, on 10 September 2015, President Ma Ying-jeou in Taipei commended Dr. Ho for his service and presented his daughter a certificate of appreciation with Israeli government representatives.
Ho Feng-Shan died on 28 September 1997 in San Francisco, California, at the age of 96. He was survived by his son, Monto Ho (何曼德, 1927–2013), a Chinese-American professional in microbiology, virology, and infectious diseases; and by his daughter, Manli Ho (何曼禮).
Memorial plaque dedicated to Ho Feng Shan at the Jewish Refugees Museum in Shanghai
. This was the final destination for many of the thousands of Jews whose lives Ho had saved.
Ho's actions in Vienna went unnoticed during his lifetime, save for a black mark in his personnel file for disobeying orders. They were finally recognized, posthumously, when he was awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli organization Yad Vashem at a ceremony in 2001 and honored by Boys Town Jerusalem in 2004. In 2015, his daughter represented her father to receive a meritorious certificate for his diplomatic services presented by the ROC government, with participation of representatives from Israel.
- ^ a b Garden of The Righteous Worldwide, Ho Feng Shan 1901 - 1997: the first diplomat who saved Jews by issuing visas for them to let them escape from the Holocaust
- ^ People's Daily Online, "Former Jewish refugees revisit Shanghai Ark"
- ^ Chang, Wayne (24 July 2015). "The 'Chinese Schindler' who saved thousands of Jews". CNN. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
- ^ a b Bartrop, Paul R. (2017). "Ho Feng-Shan". In Bartrop, Paul R.; Dickerman, Michael (eds.). The Holocaust: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection. 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 294–295. ISBN 9781440840845.
- ^ Ho Feng Shan: Das Bankwesen in China und seine Probleme, Dissertation 1932, University of Munich
- ^ a b "Daughter of late ROC Ambassador Ho Feng-shan to receive posthumous tribute for her father". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan). Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- ^ Crassweller RD. Trujillo. The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator. The MacMillan Co., New York (1966). pp. 199–200.
- ^ Baruch Tenembaum "Feng-Shan Ho, Chinese Savior", International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
- ^ Brief profile of Ho Feng-shan during World War II Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ "外交生涯四十年". The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
- ^ Ho, Feng-Shan (2010). My forty years as a diplomat. Translated by Ho, Monto. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Dorrance Pub. Co. ISBN 978-1-4349-0775-2. OCLC 697267275.
- ^ Damien McElroy, "Family fights to clear stigma that haunted China's 'Schindler'", The Sunday Telegraph, 4 June 2000.
- ^ "President Ma awards posthumous citation to late ROC Ambassador Ho Feng-Shan". Office of the President, ROC (Taiwan). 10 September 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- ^ a b "Chronology of Rescue by Dr. Feng Shan Ho, China". Rescue in the Holocaust. Institute for the Study of Rescue and Altruism in the Holocaust. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
- ^ Rinaldo, C. R.; Kunin, C. M. (15 June 2014). "Monto Ho, In Memoriam". Clinical Infectious Diseases. 58 (12): 1780–1781. doi:10.1093/cid/ciu193. ISSN 1058-4838. PMID 24668126.
- ^ "China's Schindler: Dr. Fengshan Ho". Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the State of Israel. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
- ^ "Chinese Visas in Vienna: Feng-Shan Ho". Yad Vashem. Retrieved 19 November 2016.