In the history of the Holocaust, one of the most fascinating — and largely unknown — stories of the Righteous Gentiles is that of a Japanese diplomat named Chiune Sugihara. Consul-General Sugihara was stationed in Kaunas, Lithunania in March, 1939. In July, 1940, as the Germans advanced on Lithuania, all diplomats were instructed to leave their embassies in Kaunas. Only a Dutch consul and Chiune Sugihara remained behind. The Jews of Kaunas and the surrounding areas were desperate for passports to leave the country, but obtaining visas proved almost impossible. Eventually, they sought help from Sugihara.
Seeing their desperate situation, Sugihara had to probe his conscience. At the end of July, 1940, against the rules from his commanders in Tokyo, Sugihara and his wife spent four long weeks writing visas by hand. Of the almost 6,000 Jews with Sugihara visas, most ended up in Kobe, Japan until after the war.
His humility prevented Sugihara from discussing his herioc actions after the war. As a result, many Jews have not known the story of Sugihara, one of the foremost saviors of the Holocaust. And of the thousands of Sugihara survivors, many did not know the name of the man who had written their passports.
The information for this database was obtained by David Eagleman from Hiroki Sugihara,one of the sons of Chiune Sugihara. Data entry was done mostly by Malinda Dillman, and partially by Susan King and David Eagleman. We also thank the Holocaust Museum Houston, where Malinda Dillman volunteers, for the use of their facilities and volunteer time.
If you are or know of someone who received one of these visas,
please let the Visas for Life Foundation hear from you.
This database consists of 2,139 records, each consisting of four fields: Surname, Given Name, Nationality, and Visa Date. The Nationality is given in German (e.g. "Polnisch" is "Polish"). The vast majority (91%) of the records are for those of Polish nationality; 5% were Lithuanian; 2% German; 1% Czech; 1% others. The visa dates are all July and August, 1940.
Last Update: 30 May 2003 MT
Data Copyright ©1997 Visas for Life Foundation, Hiroki Sugihara, Chairman.