Seeking more information on Jewish families escaping from Ukraine to China #ukraine

jane beckerman

Seeking more information on Jewish families escaping from Ukraine (Henischesk, port in Taurida province in my case) to Harbin then Shanghai in early 1920s. Travelled by train overland (I think). How much did it cost? How afford it? Why decide on China?
Names: Zaslavsky, Beckerman, Kaplan, Boochik, Persoff (Person)

Jane Beckerman


Jane, my grandparents also moved from Ukraine to Harbin. (They did not proceed to Shanghai, though many others did.) I cannot answer your question as to costs, but I can answer your question as to why. Ukraine was beset by pogroms, civil war, and famine after the Russian revolution(s). Earlier, the czarist government had been eager to populate Harbin, a hub of the Chinese Eastern Railway connecting western Russia with Vladivostok, with capable workers. Restrictions that severely limited the freedoms of Jews in Ukraine and elsewhere in Russia were therefore lifted for Jews in Harbin. In other words, they could live in any neighborhood in Harbin, attend any school, and have more freedom in employment than they could in Russia. In the 1920s, Harbin also attracted Jewish and no-Jewish opponents of Bolshevism and communism. Things fell apart later, but in 1920 Harbin was an attractive option for many Jews. 
Jean Ispa

Yale Reisner


Many of the migrants to Harbin, China were assisted there by HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) or its sister agency HICEM.  You might want to inquire of HIAS which is still active:

Yale J. Reisner
Warsaw, Poland
(a former HIAS employee)

Amy Wisotsky

Hi Jane, I have two letters – dated 1932 and 1933 from a distant relative through marriage.  They lived in Harbin but in the letter he refers to it as Charbin.  Lots of interesting information and family names – not mine.

Here are two interesting references: 

1.  They lived in the Far East – Charbin which I believe would be Harbin from abt 1887 – 1925 when they left on an Indian ship and sailed via Port Said and Palestine to Marseilles.  It appears they were originally from Rumania and Russia.

2.  He also talked of his 5th daughter Yehudeth who was killed with her husband by robbers in Charbin about 12 years ago (the letter was dated 1933). 

Amy T. Wisotsky
Louisville, KY

Lewis, Megan

Another aid organization was the The archives of the Far Eastern Jewish Central Information Bureau (DALJEWCIB) Harbin-Shanghai.  The original records are at the Central Archive for the History of the Jewish People, but the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has the records on microfilm, which we then digitized. The digital images aren't available online, but there is a register of people in the collection attached to the catalog record.

Megan Lewis, reference librarian