Harbin: No Publisher (The Society, printed by Type. Progress), 1920s? Item #42266
No Date (1920s?) 1st edition. Original blue printed paper wrappers, 12mo (small), 13 pages. In Russian. Title translates as, “Statutes of the Harbin Charitable Society ‘Gmilus-Hesed’ (for issuing interest-free loans) Harbin, China Corner. Market Nr.10”“Harbin is the capital of China’s northmost province Heilongjiang. It is a city of over 6 million people that lies sandwiched between North Korea and Russia in a region sometimes called Manchuria….Surprisingly, Harbin is a city built by Jews….As part of a secret alliance between China and Russia, in 1896 China gave Russia a land concession to build the Chinese Eastern Railway, an extension of the Trans-Siberian line. The planned railroad would cross from Manchuria all the way to Port Arthur, Korea. Harbin was chosen as the administrative center of this effort. At the time Harbin was not a city, but a small cluster of fishing villages….Construction began in 1897 and the railroad line opened for traffic in 1903. The Russian government wanted to develop and populate Harbin very quickly, so they were willing to give benefits to people who moved there. Jews and other minorities took up the offer. In Russia there was poverty and rampant antisemitism. Those that moved to Harbin saw an increase in their status and were given plots of land. They weren’t allowed to work on the railroad, but they could establish other businesses. As Harbin grew and developed Jews were able to become successful shopkeepers, contractors, and more. The lack of antisemitism amongst the native Chinese and the economic opportunities made Harbin an appealing location for Jews to relocate to. By 1903 there were 500 Jews in Harbin and they had formed their own self-governing community. That same year the first Jewish cemetery in all of China was established there. In 1905, in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 many Jewish soldiers moved to Harbin. They were joined by Jewish refugees fleeing the pogroms in Russia. By 1908 the number of Jews in Harbin had grown to 8,000. In order to accommodate the growing population a large synagogue was opened in 1909. Additionally, a Jewish community center, hospital, and secondary school were also opened in the city. Of the 40 individuals sitting on the Harbin City Council, 12 were Jewish.…Jews owned and operated restaurants, lumber mills, coal mines, banks, metalworks, breweries, and candy shops in Harbin….After World War 1, even more Jewish refugees came to Harbin. The community grew to 10,000-15,000 people.… Under Jewish stewardship the loose collection of villages of Harbin become a true city. In the 1920s and 1930s the Harbin became an international cultural hub. Modern hotels, shops, and cafes began to open, pioneered by the Jewish community. There were 20 different Jewish newspapers and periodicals published in Harbin. Additionally, Jewish actors and musicians from around the world traveled to perform in Harbin. The city was colloquially referred to as the Oriental St. Petersburg or the Paris of the Orient. In 1921 the Jewish population had grown large enough that a new synagogue was constructed. In 1923, a Jewish national bank was opened….Harbin became a vibrant center for the Zionist movement. The Soviet Union outlawed Zionism, so Harbin was the perfect place for Russian language Zionism to thrive…. In 1931, Japanese forces began to occupy swaths of China including Harbin. They established a puppet regime in the region. At the same time Russian fascists were organizing in Harbin. The fascists and the new government were happy to work together. They began to economically extort the Jews of Harbin. Those that wouldn’t or couldn’t pay were subjected to violence, kidnapping, and even murder. In response many of Harbin’s Jews fled to other countries. By 1939, the Jewish population had shrunk to only 5,000….Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s parents and grandparents were Jews who emigrated to Harbin from Russia…. Jews in Hardin emigrated in mass to Israel. In many cases the Israeli government directly aided in these moves. By 1955 there was [sic] less than 400 Jews left in Harbin….In 1982 there was only a single Jew left in Harbin, Anna Agre. She died in 1985 leaving the city with no Jews…. The synagogues and much of the beautiful architecture left behind by the Jews of Harbin still stand today, many of them refurbished. The city is studded with government placed historical plaques and markers telling the stories of the Jews that lived there” (Breakingmatzo.com). A similar booklet–but more common–for a Jewish organization in Tianjin sold at auction in 2023 for $875 (with commission). SUBJECT(S): Jews -- China -- History -- Societies, etc. OCLC lists no copies anywhere, perhaps a unique surviving example. Wrappers slightly toned, Very Good Condition, a very nice copy of this exceedingly rare title (Holo2-160-18).