You find heroes in the strangest places. They are not always soldiers fighting incredible odds, or people in the medical profession discovering breakthrough cures. Sometimes they are obscure government workers, overlooked by most people, but still there quietly doing the Lord’s work. Ho Feng-Shan was “First Secretary” of the Chinese Legation in Vienna Austria in 1938. That year Austria was annexed by the National Socialist government of Germany, and that development did not bode well for the 200,000 Jews who lived in Austria. Now that they were all marked for death by the Nazis, many of them believed their best option was to flee Austria for some other country that would give them refuge. The problem with that was that because of the Evian Conference that same year, 31 countries decided that they would not allow European Jews to emigrate to their shores for safety.
Mr. Ho, however, worked for the Republic of China (not to be confused with the communist government that took over China years later), and he saw the urgent need and solution. He immediately began writing visas for all the Jews who came to the Chinese consulate there in Vienna. His superiors wanted him to not get involved. The fate of the Jews was not their concern. Mr. Ho, however, ignored their decrees and wrote visas for Jewish families in spite of the fact that he could very well lose his job.
We don’t know exactly how many visas he wrote, but we know that he wrote his 200th visa for Jewish families in June of 1938, and his 1,906th visa on October 27, 1938. These Jewish refugees fled Austria for Shanghai (where there was a sizable Jewish population), Hong Kong, and Australia. Even when he was given orders in 1940 that he was recalled to China, he continued to write visas. He went into overdrive, writing as fast as he could, knowing that every visa would save people from Hitler’s murderous thugs. To this day, we do not know how many people he actually saved, but God does.
In 2001, the nation of Israel added Ho Feng-Shan to their list of the “Righteous Among the Nations” memorial, in which those Gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust are honored.