University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Feng Shan Ho

Dr. Feng Shan Ho, Chinese Consul General to Vienna, Austria, 1938-1940.

By Manli Ho and Visas for Life, Chinese translation by Shi Kuan James Chen.

Dr. Feng Shan Ho was one of the first diplomats to save Jews by issuing them visas to escape the Holocaust. He was responsible for saving thousands of Jews in Nazioccupied Austria in 1938 and 1939, yet he was completed unknown, even by the people whom he saved.

He was described as a man with a "compassionate heart." That compassion was most likely the result of hi background. Born on September 10 1901, in rural Yiyang in Hunan Province, China, his name Feng Shan means "Phoenix on the Mountain." Poor and fatherless by age seven, he and his family were helped by the Norwegian Lutheran Mission. Feng Shan Ho was educated in their schools and felt a lifelong gratitude.

Another lasting influence on Feng Shan Ho was a western liberal arts education. It was at the College of Yalein China that he developed his lifelong dedication to mens sana, corpore sano (sound mind, sound body). In 1932, he earned a PhD in political economics at the University of Munich, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Throughout his life, he was tireless in his pursuit of knowledge and selfimprovement. Ho possessed a dynamic, outgoing personality, boundless energy and a hot temper, offset by a quick wit and great sense of humor. But a large part of him was also very Chinese, and firmly rooted in Confucian principles. He named his two children after tenets of Confucianism, "Virtue" and "Decorum." A man of both intellect and passion, he strove all his life to balance the two.

"He knew he had received many gifts from God. He felt that they were not given to him solely for his own benefit, but to do for others, for his fellow man," said his Pastor, Reverend Charles Kuo.

Feng Shan Ho expressed this in his own words in a poem written to his wife Shauyun on New Year's Day, 1947:

"The gifts Heaven bestows are not by chance
The convictions of heroes not lightly formed.
Today I summon all spirit and strength,
Urging my steed forward ten thousand miles."

In September 2007,ten years after his death, Dr. Feng Shan Ho, was buried in his beloved hometown of Yiyang in Hunan Province. His daughter, Manli Ho took his an her mother's ashes back to China and the city of Yiyang scheduled a commemorative event on September 28, 2007 in honor of his "homecoming."