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Biographical/Historical Information

The sinologist Willy Tonn was born in Berlin in 1902. In 1924, he graduated from the Seminary for Oriental languages after having studied Chinese, Manchu, Vedic, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, and Tibetan. He emigrated to Shanghai (Hongkou Qu) in 1939, working as a professor for literature at the Tung Te University, and as a lector for the Shanghai Jewish Club the Society of Friends (Quakers). He also served as director at the Asia Seminar, before teaching Chinese linguistics and comparative philology at Tsinan State University, Shanghai. Tonn emigrated to Israel in 1949, working for Israeli museums and publishing, sometimes under the pseudonym Wolf Torno. Willy Tonn died in Switzerland in 1957.

Hans Jacoby was born in Dresden in 1900 and studied painting. He left Germany for Holland in 1938 and was interned by the Dutch government at the Hoek van Holland camp for illegal refugees. He emigrated to Shanghai in April 1940, and he took courses at the Jüdische Gemeinde in Shanghai and at the Asia Seminar. He immigrated to the United States in 1947 and died in 1984.

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Willy Tonn : photograph of a portrait painting / by Hans Jacoby, Leo Baeck Institute, F 2900a.