Dutch volunteers, Le Cercle Sportif Français, Shanghai, 1937

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 21:57

Charles Gesner van der Voort (1916-1991) was part of a group of Dutch bachelors in pre-war Shanghai. Another member of this group was David van Gelderen (1908-1990), originally from Rotterdam. He arrived in Shanghai in 1933, working for Unilever, a merger of the operations of Dutch Margarine Unie and British soap maker Lever Brothers.

The photo albums of his China years contain many photos of the bachelor life in those days: travel, work, parties, trips within China and to Japan. They also include photos of the bombing of the Unilever factory during the 1937 Japanese attack of Shanghai, membership of the French Special Police and other unique photos.

Like Charles, David was interned in Chapei Civil Assembly Centre by the Japanese from 1943 to 1945.
Being Jewish, internment in Shanghai probably saved David’s life; since all of his family members in the Netherlands were killed by the Nazis.

David married, had two children and continued to work for Unilever. He became member of Nederlandse Reünisten Vereniging China (NRVC, Dutch Reunists Association China).

This photo was thought to be taken in Hong Kong, after the evacuation of Shanghai's Dutch residents following the Japanese attack in August 1937. David's son Frank, who lived and worked in Hong Kong: "I believe this is Repulse Bay Hotel, where I attended parties and participated in Dutch cabaret, before it was broken down [in 1982]."

Gwulo member moddsey found out that it was actually taken at the French Club, Le Cercle Sportif Français.

Courtesy Van Gelderen family archives

Source: This image came from Flickr, see https://flickr.com/photo.gne?id=49930385572

Date picture taken
1 Sep 1937