Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chiune Sugihara

I thought this was awesome. I had the privilege of visiting the Holocaust museum this past year and I can say it was one of my most memorable moments. When you walk in there is this solemn silence that engulfs the atmosphere. They have pictures top to bottom of families I wondered about and still think of till this day. This is a story I had never heard before and thought I would share.
"Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat, serving as Vice Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania. Soon after the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, he helped an estimated 6,000 Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from Poland or residents of Lithuania. From July 31 to August 28 1940, Sugihara began to grant visas on his own initiative. Many times he ignored the requirements and arranged the Jews with a ten-day visa to transit through Japan, in direct violation of his orders. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an extraordinary act of disobedience. He spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian railway at five times the standard ticket price. Sugihara continued to hand-write visas (reportedly spending 18–20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month’s worth of visas each day) until September 4, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of them heads of household who could take their families with them. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit in hotel and after boarding the train, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out the train’s window even as the train pulled out. Sugihara returned to Japan where he lived in obscurity until he was made ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ by Israel in 1985. He died the following year."
This is the website I found it on and here is a list of 10 people who saved Jews during WWII