Organized Panel Session
In recent decades, the Holocaust has occupied an increasingly prominent place in East Asian cultures of memory. Chinese intellectuals have called the Cultural Revolution their "Holocaust,” both China and Japan have found and commemorated their own “Schindlers” (Ho Feng-Shan and Sugihara Chiune), and memory activists have invoked Holocaust analogies in East Asia’s never-ending history wars. Yet the Holocaust’s impact on East Asia was not just cultural. Thousands upon thousands of Jewish refugees fled through East Asia during the war, and many Asians were witnesses to the Holocaust and its aftermath. Examining the myths and historical realities connected to the Holocaust in relation to East Asia, our panel explores Jewish, Chinese, and Japanese involvement in the Holocaust and its memory. We examine the limits of the term “Holocaust” and its applicability across histories and cultures to account for the multifaceted ways it reverberated beyond Europe. Kimberly Cheng’s paper unpacks Jewish refugees’ racially charged experiences of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and Daqing Yang looks at Japanese diplomatic dispatches from Hitler’s Europe. Rotem Kowner explores religious Jews’ escape to Japan and its impact on community memory and subsequent international diplomacy. Ran Zwigenberg investigates how Holocaust memory and Japan’s role in the Holocaust was entangled with the increasingly complex politics of memory in the 1980s, at a time when various groups in East Asia and the Middle East were fighting for recognition for historical wrongs and the “real” lessons of the Holocaust.