Google honors Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who saved thousands of Europeans from the World War II on this day in 1939, with Doodle.
“There was no other way,” said Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who was positioned in Lithuania shortly before the flare-up of World War II. On this day in 1939, Sugihara started issuing travel visas to a great many Jewish refugees, resisting direct orders from his supervisors to help the refugees to escape via Japan.
“I told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it was a matter of humanity,” he reviewed years after the fact. “I did not care if I lost my job.”
Who was Chiune Sugihara?
Chiune Sugihara was born on 1 January 1900 at Kozuchi Town in Japan. He was a Japanese government official who filled in as vice consul for the Japanese Empire in Kaunas, Lithuania. During the Second World War, Sugihara helped about 6,000 Jews escape Europe by issuing travel visas to them with the goal that they could travel through through Japanese area, taking a chance with his job and his family’s lives. The escaping Jews were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland and Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as occupants of Lithuania. A few decades after the war, in 1985, the State of Israel respected Chiune Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrew: חסידי אומות העולם) for his activities. He is the only Japanese national to have been so honored.
Not long after Jewish families started arranging outside his official residence, arguing for documents to permit them safe section by means of Japan to the Dutch island of Curacao, he sent three messages to Tokyo requesting permission, which was all strongly dismissed. “Absolutely not to be issued any traveler not holding firm end visa with guaranteed departure ex Japan,” read the cable from the foreign ministry. “No exceptions.”
After much soul-looking, Chiune Sugihara threw alert to the winds, composing a huge number of visas night and day until “my fingers were calloused and every joint from my wrist to my shoulder ached.” His wife supported his hazardous decision, massaging his worn out hands every night so he could prop up until the most recent minutes of his train leaving Lithuania, handing out visas to Jews from the windows.
After coming back to Japan, Chiune Sugihara paid the cost for defying orders. His promising foreign service career reached an end, and he attempted to help his family. He got little acknowledgment for his penance until one of the general population he spared, presently an Israeli diplomat, managed to find him in 1968. A tree was planted in his respect at the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, and Chiune Sugihara was pronounced “Righteous Among Nations.” Memorials in Lithuania and his hometown of Yaotsu, Japan pay tribute to Sugihara and his brave undertakings that spared untold a great many lives.
Chiune Sugihara died the following year at a hospital in Kamakura, on 31 July 1986.