Sempo (Chiune) Sugihara

                                                        by Susan Gordon


The film, Shindler's List, touched people's hearts around the world by telling the story of a man who saved many Jews, at great risk to himself and his family.


Sempo (Chiune) Sugihara, the Japanese consul general in Kovno, Lithuania, was another rescuer of Jew during the holocaust years. In August, 1940, the Soviet Union ordered all consulates to close down their offices and leave the country. When Sugihara learned that many Polish and Lithuanian Jews were desperately seeking exit visas, he tried to help them. If they could be given visas to Japan, they could travel there and then continue to the Dutch West Indian island of Curacao. He wired Tokyo three times, seeking permission to issue visas to the Jews, but he was refused again and again.


"I really had a difficult time, and for two whole nights I was unable to sleep," he said. "I eventually decided to issue transit visas... on my own authority as consul. I could not allow these people to die, people who had come to me for help with death staring them in the eyes. Whatever punishment might be imposed on me (for disobeying orders), I knew I had to follow my conscience."


On August 10, he began issuing Japanese transit visas to the Jewish refugees, even if they lacked necessary supporting documents. Sugihara estimated that he issued 3,500 visas. Although none of the refugees made it to Curacao from Japan, they did continue to Shanghai, the United States, Canada or Palestine.


On September 1, Sugihara and his family left Kovno for his new post in Berlin. After the war, he was dismissed from the foreign service, probably because of his refusal to follow orders in Kovno. He died in Japan in 1986. The following year, the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) Jewish Foundation for Christian Rescuers established the Courage to Care Award, honoring rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era. In 1989, it was awarded to Sugihara's wife, Yukiko, and son, Hiroki.


Even though most of us do not have the opportunity to be as heroic as Sugihara, there are times in our lives when we, too, can stand on the side of good and righteousness and make a difference. In the words of a very old Jewish proverb, "he who saves one life saves the world entire."


The ADL is a non-profit organization which speaks out against all forms of prejudice, racism and anti-Semitism.


#68 Parkway Vol.8 No.5 October 1994













9月1日、杉原は家族とカウナスからベルリンの新しい赴任地に向かった。戦争が終わると、外務省を解任される。おそらくカウナスで上からの命令に背いたからであろう。そして1986年、彼は日本で亡くなった。翌年、キリスト教徒救済者のための名誉棄損防止同盟(ADL)ユダヤ人教団が賞「Courage to Care Award (気遣う勇気賞) )を設立し、ホロコースト時にユダヤ人を救済した人たちの栄誉を称えた。1989年、杉原の妻(幸子)と息子(弘樹)にもその賞が授与された。