Chiune Sugihara – A hero who saved Jews from Holocaust

2019-07-31 Wed

Chiune Sugihara- a Japanese government official who served as vice-consul for the Japanese Empire in Kaunas, Lithuania, died today on 31st July 1986. He was the man who risked his job in order to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. His courage and bravery is now praised by people around the world.

His life story shows that even during the most tragic episodes of World War II, there were those who courageously defied political pressures and stuck to their morals. Sugihara helped some 6,000 Jews flee Europe by issuing transit visas to them so that they could travel through Japanese territory.

After the German Invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Soviet Union takeover of Lithuania in 1940, many Jewish refugees from Poland tried to acquire exit visas. Without the visas, it was dangerous to travel and impossible to find countries willing to issue them. Hundreds of refugees came to Japanese consulate, trying to get a visa to Japan.

On 29th July in 1939, Sugihara began issuing transit visas to thousands of Jewish refugees, defying direct orders from his supervisors to help the refugees escape via Japan. His act, against the orders of the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, is credited with saving approximately 6,000 Jews.

In 1985, the State of Israel honored Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions. He is the only Japanese national to have been so honored.

In 1998, Israel was the first country to honor Chiune Sugihara on their stamp. He has since been honored on stamps from Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Liberia, Lithuania, and Sierra Leone.

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