By Peter Preskar, June 22, 2020
In 1939, Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese career diplomat, was sent to Kovno, Lithuania A few months later, Jewish Poles took refugee in Lithuania, fleeing the Nazis, who were occupying Poland. When the Soviets occupied Lithuania in August 1940, the Jews needed to flee again. They desperately needed transfer visas through the Soviet Union to Japan. From Japan, they had or hoped to obtain visas to travel to Curacao and Surinam. Sugihara’s request to issue visas was denied by his government. But he issued the Jews visas, anyway, preparing by hand some 300 a day in August 1940 and saving well over 2000 lives before his consulate was closed down. His insubordination wrecked his career. In one interview, Chiune Sugihara summed up his work this way: “I didn’t do anything special”. I made my own decisions, that’s all. I followed my own conscience and listened to it.” He remains a symbol of righteousness for all times. Please note that the Times of Israel has an article entitled “Happy Birthday Mr. Sugihara, followed by other articles on righteous men and women who had the courage to follow their conscience and save Jews during the Holocaust here.
AUTHOR Peter Preskar describes himself as “a history junkie.” He writes for the History of Yesterday website. This article was published June 22, 2020 by History of Yesterday and is archived at https://historyofyesterday.com/chiune-sugihara-947a972be7ac/.