This film is part of Free

Refugees in Shanghai: Their Life and Their Education

Fascinating, sometimes harrowing record of life in camps run by international aid agencies following the bombing of Shanghai by the Japanese.

War 1945 28 mins Silent


This film contains harrowing scenes of corpses littering the streets and famous landmarks destroyed following an intense air raid of Shanghai by the Japanese in 1937. The only safe haven for local residents was to be found in the city's International Settlement, where children and adults could lead some semblance of ordinary life in refugee camps run by foreign charitable organisations.

From 1937 to 1945, the Japanese carried out indiscriminate bombing of densely populated cities, including Shanghai, by then the most prosperous city in Asia. Refugees flooded the International Settlement (set up by the British and Americans after China was forced to cede extra-territorial rights in the 1842 Treaty of Nanking), as it was safe from attack. The classes, regular meals and clean bedding provided by various international aid agencies and missionary churches were the only chance of a decent life in an otherwise chaotic country torn apart by Japanese invasion and civil war.