Former Chinese consul-general Feng-Shan Ho was awarded the title of ”Righteous Among the Nations” yesterday for his courage in saving ”hundreds and possibly thousands” of Viennese Jews from the death camps.
During 1938-1940, Ho issued exit visas to Shanghai ”to all requesting them,” according to a Yad Vashem press release, disregarding not only his official instructions from the Chinese ambassador, but also the prevailing attitudes of his fellow diplomats, most of whom showed official and personal indifference to the fate of Europe’s Jews.
Ho’s case came forward two years ago, at which point a commission began a thorough investigation. Ho is the third Chinese to be named a Righteous Among the Nations, and the first Chinese official to receive the title. The other two, Pan-Jun-Shun and Taisai Chi-Fu-Lin, were Chinese laborers in Ukraine who helped Soviet Jews elude capture.
Ordinarily, Yad Vashem nominates only those gentiles who risked their lives to help save Jews. However, explained Mordechai Paldiel, director of the Department for the Righteous at Yad Vashem, since diplomats are protected by their immunity, ”we apply a different criteria: Did they directly disobey orders in order to help Jews?…[Feng-Shan Ho] was told not to order visas in such large quantities and he disobeyed, so he risked his career.”
Due to the committee’s unavoidable reliance on survivor testimony, Paldiel acknowledges that the days of naming new Righteous Among the Nations individuals are numbered. ”There’s no time limit, but … taking into consideration the age factor, we anticipate that 20 years from now, the generation of the Holocaust will have passed on.”
* AP contributed to this report.