Sculpture 'Song of Survivors' debuts in Shanghai to remember Chinese-Jewish friendship
Published: Jan 27, 2022 07:26 PM

The original bronze sculpture "Song of the Survivors" debuted in Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum Thursday morning to remember the great friendship between the Chinese and Jewish people based on sincerity, love and faith during World War II. 

More than 80 people including diplomats from foreign consulates general in Shanghai participated in the event.  

The sculpture is inspired by a novel, with the same name, by Shanghai-born Chinese Canadian Bei La, which is a love story of a young Jewish man and a woman as they fled Nazi oppression during World War II and found shelter in Shanghai. The hero and heroine are based on renowned US film producer Mike Medavoy's parents Michael and Dora Medavoy. 

Its English version, published in 2020, one year later than the original Chinese version, was translated by Howard Goldblatt, renowned Jewish sinologist whose translations of Chinese novels include those written by Nobel literature laureate Mo Yan.

Michael and Dora lived and worked in Shanghai during the war and their son Mike was born in Shanghai in 1941. Mike later became one of Hollywood's most prestigious producers working on more than 300 feature films including "Black Swan." 

Some 17 of his productions were nominated and eight have won Best Picture Oscars. His roles range from agent to studio chief to producer. 

"The Medavoys family represents tens of thousands of Jewish victims who found support and shelter in Shanghai during WWII," Bei La said. "Dora had talked with me several times that she wanted to be back to Shanghai before she died at the age of 95. She expressed that wish in Shanghai dialect. Today I can say that with this sculpture, I have brought her to Shanghai." 

Bei La revealed that Mike is now writing his biography and his Shanghai experience will be part of it.

"The Chinese people I met welcomed me with open arms. Now I understood quite clearly why my dad had cried when he returned to Shanghai. I felt connected to the place and I feel no fear of what China will do on the world stage. They certainly seem to be going in the right direction. My hope is that they will deal with it responsively," Michael was quote by as saying in interview.

Mor Ben Moshe, deputy consul general of Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai, told the events that "January 27 marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is very important for Jewish people and Israelis around the world. We do remember Shanghai's important role and special meaning in WWII for Jewish people. Before and during and WWII, China was the only country accepting Jewish people. We will never forget the help Shanghai and China provided for us."

Moshe also said that many Jewish people living in China contributed a lot to modern China. "Our mission is not only to remember the past but leave it to future and keep the memory going." 

The year of 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of China and Israel establishing diplomatic relations.

Lü Qizhang, the sculptor who created the 2.8-meter-long, 2.6-meter-high bronze piece, shared why he chose the scene of the Medavoys (Michael, Dora, Mike and his younger sister Ronnie) bidding farewell to Shanghai on the ship leaving China for Chile in 1947. 

The bronze sculpture “Song of the Survivors” in Shanghai by Lü Qizhang
Photo: Feng Yu/Global Times

The bronze sculpture “Song of the Survivors” in Shanghai by Lü Qizhang Photo: Feng Yu/Global Times