Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Schindler

Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Schindler

Because the heroes, known or not, should be remembered, in Hypertext will treat the history of Chiune Sugihara, known as the Japanese Schindler and saved the lives of over 10,000 Jewish refugees during the Second World War.

World War II was one of the darkest periods of human history is an understatement at times. During the more than five years of conflict, numerous stories of interest on both sides of the conflict and how good or how bad it can become humans have emerged. Fortunately, today we will try one of the first, talking about Chiune Sugihara , a Japanese diplomat known more by his nickname, Japanese Schindler , referring to German businessman who saved 1200 Jews during World War II.

Born January 1, 1900 in Yaotsu, a rural area in Gifu prefecture, within the region of Chubu in Japan, Chiune Sugihara was raised with five brothers by his father Yoshimizu Sugihara and his mother Yatsu Sugihara, the case middle and samurai respectively. Very clever from young , Chiune graduated with honors in school and high school Furuwatari Nagoya Daigo Chugaku, so his father Yoshimizu expected to follow in his footsteps by studying medicine. However, Chiune deliberately suspended the entrance exam to college writing only the name on the exam, since what was wanted and was passionate about English literature, a title he won in the Waseda University .

 Ōkuma Memorial Hall, one of the buildings of Waseda University. [Source] ( jpg).

Ōkuma Memorial Hall, one of the buildings of Waseda University. Fuente.

Not only passionate about the English language, studied Russian and German at the request approved in 1919 to enter the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Especially useful to him was the Russian language as it allowed him to engage in negotiations with the Soviet Union for the Manchuria Railway near Harbin, his first assignment as envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and left after seeing the mistreatment of Japanese local Chinese (remember back then that Manchuria was under Japanese control, and thus maintained until the end of World War II).

After leaving Manchuria and divorce his first wife, Klaudia Semionovna Apollonova, returned to Japan in 1935 and converted to Orthodox Christianity, a faith that would be vital to what would in future conflict. Once in Japan, met the woman who would become his wife until the death of Chiune Sugihara in 1986, Yukiko Sugihara (Kikuchi as maiden name) with whom he had four children: Hiroki, Chiaki Haruki and Nobuki .

 The Sugihara family in full. [Source] ( /sugihara_gallery.asp).

The family Sugihara, in full. Fuente.

In 1939, shortly before the start of World War II, became vice-consul of the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. In addition to complying with the typical duties of a ministry in foreign territory, the Japanese government ordered him to disclose movements of Soviet and German troops routine in those days convulsive. However, after being captured Lithuania by the Soviet Union in 1940, many Jewish refugees from Poland and Lithuania those Jews tried to acquire exit visas to any government that was willing to give them: the situation was desperate and thought it was a matter of time that Lithuania was invaded by the Germans or were deported by the Soviets themselves.

One of the consulates who tried the many refugees was the Japanese consulate and Hundreds of refugees were the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, trying to get a visa to Japan. Unfortunately, the Japanese government had adopted a neutral stance toward the Jews, but demanded that visas were issued only to those who had served with the appropriate immigration procedures and they had abundant funds, unlike the Dutch consul Jan Zwartendijk , another brave consul who saved many Jews, whatever their background and wealth

 Jewish refugees waiting for visas at the embassy in Kaunas [Source] (http: /. /

Jewish refugees waiting for visas at the embassy in Kaunas. Fuente.

As was logical, most refugees did not meet these criteria. Sugihara contacted three times with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive instructions, and each time the ministry said the same thing: anyone who received a visa must have a visa to a third destination to exit Japan, no exceptions. Ie that Japan would only target step to a destination to a third unspecified country , which further complicated the flight of refugees, since it implied that another country be involved directly in the matter .

However, after consulting with his wife about what to do, and ignoring what their own government had ordered, Chiune Sugihara began its own initiative on July 31, 1940 to issue visas valid for ten days in transit through Japan, repeatedly ignoring the requirements . So they could reach Japan, Sugihara spoke to Soviet officials who allowed the refugees travel with the Trans-Siberian railway to Japanese territory, provided they pay a ticket worth five times the standard price.

 One of the visas issued by Sugihara in 1940. [Source] (

One of the visas issued by Sugihara in 1940. Fuente.

Meanwhile, continued writing Sugihara visas hand going between 18 and 20 hours a day in them and producing a normal value of a month of visas every day until September 4, 1940 when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. In fact, the day Sugihara and his family was leaving Lithuania, Chiune and his wife were hastily preparing visas , sealing and signing blank sheets that were completed after the refugees. The figures vary depending on which source let us go, but estimates range from 6,000 saved refugees and 10,000 people since many visas, despite being single, extended to other members of the same family.

After Lithuania, Sugihara was reassigned to Berlin before serving as consul general in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in Königsberg and finally Legation in Bucharest, Romania. This was the final destination during the War of Sugihara because, when the Red Army entered Romania, Soviet troops imprisoned Sugihara and his family in a field POW for 18 months being released Sugihara in 1946. The family returned to Japan through the Soviet Union via the Trans-Siberian Railway (the same as refugees caught) and the port of Nakhodka.

 Chiune Sugihara Memorial Yaotsu City, Japan. [Source] (

Chiune Sugihara Memorial in the city of Yaotsu, Japan. Source .

After returning in 1947, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Chiune Sugihara asked that quit his diplomatic post . This waiver remains controversial today because while some sources, including his wife, claim that Sugihara was dismissed due to the incident in Lithuania, the Japanese government itself was in 2006 a document which states that Sugihara not suffered no disciplinary action. Specifically, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Sugihara was one of many diplomats who resigned voluntarily, possibly due to staff cuts (keep in mind that Japan had lost the war and with it, all the territory won in previous years).

After that, Sugihara moved with his family to Kanagawa Prefecture, but shortly afterwards and building on their knowledge of Russian, went to work in the Soviet Union for 16 years while his family remained in Japan. As for his achievements for humanity, never bragged about it: in 1968, Jehoshua Nishri , the economic leader of the Israeli embassy in Tokyo and one of the refugees Sugihara saved finally I found and got contacted him, and in 1985 was honored Chiune Sugihara Righteous Among the Nations by the government of Israel.

Sugihara's widow with President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus. [Source] (

Sugihara’s widow with President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus. Source .

As Sugihara was too ill to travel to Israel, his wife and son accepted the honor on his behalf, and all the Sugihara family received Israeli citizenship in perpetuity. As mentioned, Sugihara never bragged about what he did for people Judi or because, despite the publicity given in Israel and other nations remained a citizen’s in Japan, and only when a great Jewish delegation around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, appeared to show their respects at his funeral after his death in July 1986 showed neighbors who had all his life he had done during the war.

Finally, I would like to leave a quote from Sugihara said after asking himself why he saved all those people, risking his own life and that of his family: “I just did it because I pitied of those people. They wanted to leave, and I gave them visas “. Do not think you need to add more about this great man


Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Schindler
Source: english  
April 27, 2015

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