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szdaily -> Shenzhen
Documentary recalls wartime mail service
     2011-February-14  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Li Hao

    AN English documentary was jointly produced by a Shenzhen company to recount efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during WWII to connect separated people through its mail delivery operation when there was no postal service between most countries.

    “The 25 Words” was co-produced by the Red Cross Society of China and Shenzhen Santorini Culture Communications Ltd.

    The documentary follows a Chinese family, surnamed He, whose members were separated in the United States, Germany and China. They kept in touch with each other through messages delivered by the ICRC, although each message was limited to only 25 words (or 25 Chinese characters) written in a special form provided by the ICRC.

    During WWII, all ICRC letters had to be transferred through the headquarters in Geneva, which delayed delivery. In addition, the letters were closely checked by the governments of enemy states. As a result, it could take 6-12 months for a letter to be delivered. For the He family, the wait could be as long as one year and seven months.

    The production team interviewed families, officers of the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) to restore the historical facts, according to Liu Shen, producer and director of the documentary, who is also a volunteer of the RCSC.

    Although the ICRC employed all types of vehicles for deliveries, it was hardly enough to handle all the letters, averaging 70,000 daily, pouring into the Geneva headquarters. Four thousand volunteers in 96 groups worked around the clock to process the letters. Throughout the War, the ICRC delivered more than 100,000,000 letters between POWs and their families, more than 20,000,000 letters to civilians living in belligerent states, and 3,600 Red Cross parcels.

    “I happened to learn about the ICRC story in my preparation for a biography of a renowned Chinese physicist,” Liu said.

    The physicist, 97-year-old He Zehui, is still living a simple life in Beijing. Liu said he planned to submit the documentary to an international film festival before releasing it in China because it was “very hard” to screen documentaries in the country’s profit-conscious film market.

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn