The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has posthumously honored Dr. Feng Shan Ho, a Chinese diplomat who issued thousands of visas to Jewish refugees during World War II.
The ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award, established in 1987 to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era, was presented posthumously to Dr. Ho on November 15 at the League’s Annual Meeting in Chicago where more than 500 leaders gathered.
The award was accepted by his daughter, Manli Ho, who conducted research and documentation for 15 years on her father’s story.
“Ho was among the first of a small number of diplomatic rescuers who took extraordinary measures and personal risk to do the right thing,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director. “During one of the darkest times in world history, this man stood up against a powerful evil, jeopardizing his own career, without recognition or compensation.
"Led by his moral compass, Dr. Ho saved thousands of mothers, fathers and children, grandparents, aunts and uncles. His extraordinary actions were not known until after his death, thanks to research by his daughter, Manli Ho.”
Dr. Ho served as the Chinese Consul General in Vienna from 1938 – 1940. Despite being ordered to desist by his supervisors, he remained steadfast in his principles and continued his extraordinary humanitarian efforts by facilitating the safe departure of thousands of Jews in 1938 and 1939 by issuing visas to the Chinese port city of Shanghai.
After a year of issuing visas, the Chinese government punished Dr. Ho with a demerit for his disobedience. The Nazis also confiscated the Consulate building on the pretext that it was “Jewish-owned.”
Chinese nationalists in Taiwan launched a political offensive to discredit Dr. Ho and he was eventually impeached and denied a pension for his 40 years of diplomatic service. Despite repeated appeals by his family, his name has still not been cleared by Taiwan authorities.
In July 2000, the State of Israel bestowed the title of Righteous Among the Nations “for his humanitarian courage” in the rescue of Austria’s Jews.
“He stood by his convictions and refused to renounce his principles for the sake of political expediency or even personal safety, and he bore the consequences without complaint,” Manli Ho said in accepting the award on behalf of her father.
“Among his most valuable traits was his capacity for love and for compassion, but my father believed that these gifts were not bestowed upon him solely for his personal benefit, but for that of his fellow man.”
The ADL Courage to Care Award was renamed 2011 in honor of one of its first recipients, Jan Karski, a Polish diplomat and righteous gentile who provided the West with one of the first eyewitness accounts of Hitler’s Final Solution.
The ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award is a plaque with bas-reliefs that was designed by noted sculptor Arbit Blatas and depicts the horrifying context – the Nazis’ persecution, deportation and murder of millions of Jews – that served as a backdrop for the rescuers’ exceptional deeds.