Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sugihara Museum- Honor a Hero

Chiune Sugihara
Seal Sugihara used on visas

Picture of him in Sugihara Museum

Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara (January 1900 – 31 July 1986) was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. During World War 2, he helped between 10,000 and 40,000 Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas so that they could travel to Japanese territory , risking his career and his family's lives. The Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland or Soviet -occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. In 1985, Israel named him to the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions, the only Japanese national to be so honored.

Sugihara had told the refugees to call him "Sempo", the Sino-Japanese reading of the characters in his given name, discovering it was much easier for Western people to pronounce.

In 1999, as a result of the joint effort of the intellectuals and the businessmen from Lithuania and Belgium – prof. Egidijus Aleksandravičius, politician and businessman Ramūnas Garbaravičius and businessman Freddie Opsomer, the public institution "The Sugihara Foundation – Diplomats for Life" was established.

The initiators of the foundation were seeking to unite the intellectual efforts and available funds in order to properly commemorate the name of the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara.

The name of Sugihara along with the name of the Dutch consul Jan Zwartendijk as well as the other diplomats who were not afraid to save thousands of lives of the European Jews, reminds the present generations about the threats hiding inside the human nature, and sets a good example of kindness and righteousness.

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