“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Being Chinese in Nazi Germany…

Posted: May 23rd, 2020 | 1 Comment »

I recently read Julia Boyd’s excellent study of those foreigners who spent time in Nazi Germany and what they wrote, thought and said – Travellers in the Third Reich. Boyd previously wrote a good book about the foreign colony of Peking – A Dance with the Dragon. But Travellers reminded me of Ji Xianlin’s memoir, from which Boyd quotes several times. Ji, a Sanskrit scholar studying for his Phd at Heidelberg University was trapped in Germany by the war and couldn’t get back to China until 1946. On a visit to Berlin sometime in 1942 he sought out a functioning restaurant run by some Chinese from Tianjin:

‘It was like entering a strange world. The room was full of my fellow countrymen, mostly businessmen with gold teeth. I felt that I had arrived in a region of demons, black marketeers and crooks. Chinese students were also there, behaving like their brothers, dealing in the black market and playing mah-jong. Very few were concentrating on their studies. I felt frozen with fear for China’s future.’

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One Comment on “Being Chinese in Nazi Germany…”

  1. 1 Ulrich Elkmann said at 12:34 am on May 26th, 2020:

    The English translation of Ji’s memoirs came out in 2016. The first translation, as far as I can make out, was into German, in 2009, from the Verlag für fremdsprachige Literatur in Heidelberg, under the title Zehn Jahre in Deutschlen (Ten Years in Germany). It has been out of print for years now, but the publisher offers a PDF of the whole text on their website: https://www.univerlag.uni-goettingen.de/bitstream/handle/3/isbn-978-3-941875-08-1/Ji.pdf?sequence=1&


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