Forgotten Heroes: Chiune Sugihara

The Japanese man who saved 6000 Jews from death during WW2

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese Empire diplomat in Lithuania working at the Consulate. After hearing the pleading of thousands of Jewish refugees from German and Soviet occupied Poland, he began to forge papers and sign them by the thousands before his Consulate was closed. He risked his life, his family’s lives, and his position in the Japanese Empire and was said to spend 20 hours a day writing visas to save the lives of desperate Jewish families. Writing a month’s worth of visas a day, he eventually left the rubber stamp of his office for others to use when he was forced to leave. Flinging papers out of the train window as he pulled out of the station, he bowed deeply to the refugees and said: “Please forgive me, I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best.’

After he and his family were captured by the Soviets and finally let out of prison, he was fired from the Japanese diplomat office. He became a traveling light bulb salesman among other low profile jobs to make ends meet. In 1985 Chiune received the Righteous among Nations award from the Israeli government for his actions but remained unknown in Japan. After his death he was formally recognized and apologized to by the Japanese government and received the honor due to his courage. 2020 was formally declared the Year of Chiune Sugihara by Lithuania. More than 100,000 descendants of the people he saved are said to be living today.

Valor in obscurity cannot hide forever. There is Valor in you: set it free.

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