The Great Shanghai Escape Part VII



The Soviets charged the refugees exorbitant fees for the exit visas and travel expenses. The Joint and the Vaad Hatzalah provided funds for these costs, with Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz investing herculean efforts to ensure the Mir contingent were able to fund their escape. Many refugees sold their personal belongings. They then embarked on a 10-12 day train journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad across the vast expanses of the Soviet Union, arriving in the port city of Vladivostok. From there the Sea of Japan was crossed and the refugees settled temporarily in Kobe and Yokohama.
The refugees received a generally warm reception from the local Japanese as well as the small local Jewish community. When it became evident that Curacao wasn’t going to be practical as a final destination, Japanese and Jewish activists interceded with the Japanese Imperial government to extend the refugee’s visas. As a result, the refugee community was able to remain in Japan for several months.
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