Monday, March 07, 2005

Some more Shanghai

I visited Soong Ching Ling's residence yesterday. She was Sun Yat Sen's widow, and after his death she went over from Kuomintang to the Communists. They were pretty happy with that, and she had a nice house with a big garden that is now a memorial to her.

It was interesting to read the Telegrams she exchanged with Chiang Kai Shek in the 1920s, when she broke with them. Especially because although they were both Chinese (of course) the telegrams are in English. Soong Ching used more Telegraphese than Chiang did, words like unpropose (or something like that). It was interesting that he accused the Soviets of interfering with their communication, and said that if she were in China she would know why the Kuomintang had broken with the Russians. She remained loyal. Since she lived past 1960 (to 1981 in fact) I was wondering about her reaction to the Chinese Communist split with their Soviet brothers, but there was nothing in the museum to show it.

I especially enjoyed one vitrine that displayed her 1951 Stalin Peace Medal, and the gushing letter that accompanied it (Stalin was for Peace it seems -- as I recall it was the kind of peace you get when everyone who disagrees with you is dead or in jail, but she may not have agreed with me). The thing that made me laugh out loud though was another item in that same case. It was a presentation of stamps from Kurt Waldheim, when he was UN Secretary General in the early 70s. I thought "wow the Commies and the Nazis both loved her! She must have been something!". I wonder if the curator did that deliberately, or it just happened that way. Funny enough in either case.

I also enjoyed a letter from Zhou Enlai, also in English from 1946, in which he praises the British, who at that time had a Socialist Government almost as Red as the Chinese, and he predicts that the "Imperialist" Americans will soon suffer economic catastrophe. Of course we now remember the post war years in America as one of the greatest economic booms in human history, while it was the Brits who had trouble then. I have not enjoyed a history lesson that much in quite some time.

Today I visited the Ohel Moishe Synagogue. I had not realized how many Jews found refuge in Shanghai during WWII. Apparently the Chinese consul in Vienna, one Dr. Ho, signed 20,000 visas for Jews in the years just before the war. It brought tears to my eyes to read that.

They settled in a section of Shanghai that had been abandoned after being bombed by the Japanese. They survived the Japanese occupation in a ghetto in that area. The Japanese of course refused to heed Hitler's call to kill the Jews.

Since everyone likes to hear about my food, I will tell you about lunch yesterday and today. Yesterday I went to a Vegetarian place in the Mall I mentioned (which I learned today is the largest in China). The "pork" was tasty, the only problem was the mint leaves were arranged on the edge of the plate, and fell on the table every time I took some more.

Today I had some soup with vegetables I picked out. I tried to avoid the obvious meat items on skewers, but some things were hard to figure out. It was especially difficult because the man helping me did not speak a word of English. It got worse when I said "Shi Shi" (Thank you) and he assumed I spoke Chinese. No amount of incomprehension could dissuade him from trying to converse with me after that. I suppose that with a billion people here they feel they don't have to learn English to have someone to talk to.


Post a Comment

<< Home