A longer story but well worth it, I promise. His name is Chiune Sugihara. A Japanese diplomat, Sugihara served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania from 1939-1940, during World War II. By some estimates, there were 250,000 Jews in Lithuania at the time, many of whom were Polish Jews who had fled to Lithuania when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. The Soviet Union invaded Lithuania in June 1940.
At that point, Jews who wanted to emigrate from Lithuania faced strict requirements for transit visas. However, a lot of countries opposed the immigration of Jews and therefore refused to grant these transit visas to them.
Vice-Consul Sugihara, stationed in Lithuania, asked permission three times to issue transit visas to Jews, and three times the government of Japan denied his request. Knowing that the Jews would likely face death if they remained there, Sugihara violated orders from his government and helped between 10,000 and 14,000 Jews escape from Lithuania by issuing them transit visas to Japan. In July-August 1940, Chiune Sugihara and his wife Yukiko put their lives at risk and spent days and nights hand-writing and signing transit visas for Jews until they themselves got on a train and left the country in September 1940. A year later, in June 1941, the Nazis invaded Soviet Union-held Lithuania, and together with their Lithuanian collaborators, they proceeded to murder 206,800 Jews.
Sugihara put his life, his family’s life, and his professional career at risk. Today he is the only Japanese person to have received the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ designation reserved for non-Jewish people who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews. Those whose lives were saved by Vice-Consul Sugihara came to be known as the Sugihara Survivors.
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