ARTICLE

Sugihara's Holocaust Survivors: The High Cost Of Obedience

News Image By John Stonestreet/Breakpoint.org April 12, 2018
Share this article:

Today, in Israel, is Holocaust Memorial Day. Here's an amazing story of an unlikely hero, a Christian who changed the world.

Many of us have seen the Academy Award-winning film "Schindler's List," about how one courageous man rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis. But there are dozens and dozens of lesser-known stories, including one of a man who led the second largest rescue of Jews during the Nazi era.


Chiune Sugihara was born in what is now known as Mino City in Japan. His ambitious father wanted him to become a doctor, but Sugihara instead studied English at Wasida University. It was here that he had his first exposure to Christianity: He joined a Christian fraternity in order to improve his command of English.

Sugihara was recruited by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, and while stationed in Manchuria, was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church--an unusual move for a Japanese.

By 1939, with the Nazis on the march, Sugihara was assigned to the Japanese consulate in Lithuania. As the war raged in Europe, thousands of Polish Jews escaped into Lithuania. In June of 1940, the Soviets annexed Lithuania, and ordered all embassies closed. 

It was now too late for Lithuanian Jews to escape, but the Soviets agreed to allow Polish Jews to emigrate through the Soviet Union provided they could obtain the necessary travel documents.

Sugihara and his wife awoke one morning in July to the sight of hundreds of desperate Polish Jews gathered outside the consulate--Could Sugihara grant them visas?


Sugihara needed permission from Tokyo. At that time, the Japanese government would only authorize visas to people who had another visa for somewhere other than Japan. This was a nearly impossible qualification to fulfill, as most countries refused to accept Jewish refugees escaping Europe. 

Which is why, when Sugihara wired Tokyo about providing transit visas to Polish refugees, the government's answer was "absolutely not."

Remember, Imperial Japan was an ally of Nazi Germany.

**Sponsored Link**
If you need headphone amplifiers for that tiny ipod device The Gadget Nerds has some excellent reviews including sale alerts. **

Sugihara faced a difficult decision. If he defied his government, he faced the loss of his job, disgrace, and financial ruin--maybe even death. What would happen to his family? Sugihara told his wife, 'I may have to disobey my government, but if I do not, I will be disobeying God."

Sugihara obtained permission from the Soviets to keep the embassy open for another 20 days. He and his wife frantically wrote and signed visas by hand, 300 a day. As the deadline for leaving approached, they sacrificed food and sleep so that others might live.



When they were finally forced to close the consulate and leave Lithuania, Sugihara continued signing visas from the train, throwing them out the window even as the train left the station.

Sugihara paid a high price for his heroism. He was drummed out of the diplomatic service, and his family lived in squalor for years as Sugihara worked at odd jobs, unsure for most of his life if any of his efforts on behalf of the Jews even made a difference.

Well, it did. Thanks to Sugihara, between six and ten thousand Jews survived. As sociologist Hillel Levine writes in his book, "In Search of Sugihara," "thousands of Jews . . . were packed on trains bound not for forced labor camps and gas chambers but for freedom."

And today, there are some 40,000 descendants of those that Sugihara saved. In 1985, Israel gave both him and his wife its highest honor, "Righteous Among the Gentiles."

The story of Chiune Sugihara is a reminder of the Christian duty to love our neighbors, and of the high price we may have to pay in doing so.

Originally published at Breakpoint.org - reposted with permission.


Other News

April 23, 2019New Concerns As Ring of Fire Coming To Life In Heavily Populated Areas

In recent months, there has been a tremendous amount of seismic activity along the "Ring of Fire", and a couple of significant earthquake...

April 23, 2019The False God of Feelings: Mayor Buttigieg's Pro-Gay Christianity

If there were an Americanized translation of the Apostle's Creed for today, it would be something like this: "I believe in God the Father,...

April 23, 2019Nigeria: World Ignores Jihad Against Christians

Christians are being massacred in Nigeria by Fulani and Boko Haram jihadists -- and no one seems to care....

April 23, 2019The Wrong Debate About American Aid To Israel

In the long run, it will be far healthier for both Israel's economy and for strengthening the relationship between two democracies that sh...

April 22, 2019Churches Have Become The #1 Target For Hate Attacks

The bombings in Sri Lanka have once again put a spotlight on the rising tide of violence against Christians all over the world. According...

April 22, 2019Anticipating Trump's 'Deal Of The Century'

U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict surfaced two years ago and to this day -- remarkably -- only...

April 22, 2019No Place To Hide: Google Location Data Shows How Easily Your Being Tracked

Do you know where you were five years ago? Did you have an Android phone at the time? It turns out Google might know--and it might be tell...

Get Breaking News