Night Angels is a World War Two historical fiction tale based on the real life of Dr. Ho, Consul General of the Chinese Embassy in Vienna.
The book begins in 1938; much of Dr. Ho’s work involves developing good international relations, as the Chinese are currently at war with Japan. The Chinese diplomats are keen to negotiate promises of weaponry from the Germans, but they are led on a long political dance.
Meanwhile Dr. Ho witnesses the horrors as Vienna’s Jewish community is terrorised; money and businesses stolen and the people forced to leave or are taken prisoner. Dr. Ho’s wife Grace was even arrested for sitting on a park bench. As tensions rise, Ho might not be able to stop the madness, but he can try to save lives; he begins issuing travel visas to China.
I had not heard of this aspect of the war and the complexities around travel visas was interesting to read about. My historical knowledge was also lacking about the war between China and Japan, I hadn’t realised that they were already fighting before Pearl Harbor. I’m glad that I read this and got a glimpse into the life of a humble diplomat who made a difference to thousands of lives.
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From the author of The Last Rose of Shanghai comes a profoundly moving novel based on the true story of a diplomat and his wife who risked their lives to help Viennese Jews escape the Nazis.
1938. Dr. Ho Fengshan, consul general of China, is posted in Vienna with his American wife, Grace. Shy and ill at ease with the societal obligations of diplomats’ wives, Grace is an outsider in a city beginning to feel the sweep of the Nazi dragnet. When Grace forms a friendship with her Jewish tutor, Lola Schnitzler, Dr. Ho requests that Grace keep her distance. His instructions are to maintain amicable relations with the Third Reich, and he and Grace are already under their vigilant eye.
But when Lola’s family is subjugated to a brutal pogrom, Dr. Ho decides to issue them visas to Shanghai. As violence against the Jews escalates after Kristallnacht, and threats mount, Dr. Ho must issue thousands more to help Jews escape Vienna before World War II explodes.
Based on a remarkable true story, Night Angels explores the risks brave souls took and the love and friendship they built and lost while fighting against incalculable evil.