Death of Ruth F. Weiss, last European eyewitness of the Chinese Communist Revolution

March 6, 2006

Ruth F. Weiss, also known as Wei Lushi, was a Jewish-born Austrian-Chinese educator, journalist, and lecturer.  Born in Vienna in 1908, she graduated from the University of Vienna with a degree in German and English studies.  In 1933, she travelled to Shanghai and chose to stay and work as a freelance journalist.  She later became a teacher at the Jewish School in Shanghai, at the School of the Chinese Committee of Intellectual Cooperation, and at the West China Union University. 

She worked as a correspondent at the United Nations Picture News Office in 1945 and later joined the China Welfare Fund and the Radio Division of the United Nations in New York. Returning to China, she was a lecturer for the publishing House of Foreign Literature in Beijing from 1952 to 1965.  She also worked as a journalist for China Pictorial

Ruth Weiss was one of about 100 foreign-born residents to receive Chinese citizenship in 1955. Others granted citizenship were physician Hans Müller, teacher Käthe Zhao, author Israel Epstein, and the German photographer Eva Siao. The eventful history of this group of "friends of China," their assistance to Mao's socialism, and their persecution during the Cultural Revolution because they were foreigners has not been explored by historians.

In 1983, she became a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body, as a “foreign expert.”

In 1999, she published her memoir, Am Rande der Geschichte: Mein Leben in China (At the Edge of History: My Life in China). There she wrote, “Before, I could try to explain what had happened in China. Today, I can hardly predict what can be expected.” She died in Beijing at the age of 97, the last European eyewitness to the birth of the People’s Republic of China. 

Sources: “Ruth F. Weiss,” China.org; This Day in Jewish History; “Ruth Weiss, 1908-2006,” Die Welt.

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Unfortunately, much of this post relied on Weiss' Wikipedia article, which was clearly written by a representative of the CPC. No comment on that.  I will note, however, that she is by far the "last European eyewitness to the the birth of the PRC in 1949." There are still some former residents that are still alive -- but most were not Communist sympathizers like Ruth Weiss.

Journalist and Chinese educator Ruth Weiss.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Death of Ruth F. Weiss, last European eyewitness of the Chinese Communist Revolution." (Viewed on April 18, 2021) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/mar/06/2006/this-week-in-history-death-of-ruth-f-weiss-last-european-eyewitness-of-chinese>.

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