Jacquinot de Besange, Robert

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Jacquinot de Besange, Robert Gender: M
Emile Joseph Henri Charles Jacquinot
born on 15 March 1878 at 04:00 (= 04:00 AM )
Place Saintes, France, 45n45, 0w38
Timezone LMT m0w38 (is local mean time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_piscol.18.gif 24°28' s_mo.18.gif s_leocol.18.gif 02°39 Asc.s_capcol.18.gif 27°50'

Robert Jacquinot de Besange (Sculpture by Zhang Chongren, circa 1940)


French expatriate Jesuit who set up a successful model of safety zones that saved over half a million Chinese people during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

He arrived in China in 1913 as a missionary, and served the Portuguese congregation at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Hongkou. He also served as chaplain to the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. De Besange had lost his right arm in an explosion while conducting chemistry experiments in his youth, and was known as the "one armed priest".

De Besange acted as president of the China International Famine Relief Commission during the 1932 Battle of Shanghai, where his relief work for refugees, including negotiating a 4-hour truce between the Chinese and Japanese armies to allow the evacuation of civilians and casualties from the warzone, made him a household name in Shanghai.

The "de Besange model" began with the Shanghai Safety Zone ("Nanshi Refugee Zone"), or "Jacquinot de Besange Safe Zone", in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. This was a de-militarised zone for Chinese civilians located in a part of the Old City of Shanghai that was adjacent to the Shanghai French Concession. The de-militarised zone was respected by both side of the war and the concession authorities. It was administered by an international committee composed of representatives of the US, British and French communities, and policed by the Chinese police. The zone was credited with saving the lives of thousands of Chinese residents between 1937 and 1940, when it was abolished after de Besange left Shanghai. Aside from setting up the Safety Zone, de Besange was also responsible for arranging for refugee camps to be set up in the Tu-seh-weh orphanage and Fuh Tan College to shelter refugees fleeing the war zone.

Following the example of de Besange in Shanghai, the foreigners in Nanking created the Nanking Safety Zone (managed by the International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone, led by German businessman John Rabe). The same model also inspired the Hankou Safety Zone, the Zhangzhou Safety Zone and the Shenzhen Safety Zone.

Robert de Besange died on 10 September 1946 at age 68. His work is acknowledged in the Protocols and Commentaries to the 1949 Geneva Convention. A film of his life and work, Jacquinot: A Forgotten Hero directed by Krzysztof Zanussi, was featured in the 2009 Shanghai International Film Festival.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • compare to chart of Rabe, John (born 23 November 1882)


Source Notes

Birth certificate in hand from Sy Scholfield, copy on file (Charente-Maritime archives, no. 64).


  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Accident/Injury (Lost his right arm)
  • Lifestyle : Home : Expatriate
  • Vocation : Healing Fields : Social worker
  • Vocation : Religion : Ecclesiastics/ western
  • Vocation : Religion : Missionary