"If you save the life of one person, it is as if you saved the world entire."
- Jewish Proverb
Chiune Sugihara was one of the most important rescuers of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. An estimated 40,000 descendants of the Jewish refugees he saved are alive today because of his courageous actions. The story of Chiune Sugihara is among the most remarkable of the second world war.
Chiune 'Sempo' Sugihara was the Japanese Consul General in Kovno, Lithuania in 1939 and 1940. When World War II broke out, Consul Sugihara's office was flooded with visa requests from thousands of Jews fleeing German-occupied Poland. With the encouragement of his wife Yukiko, Sugihara issued Japanese transit visas to as many as 6,000 Polish Jews.
Sugihara acted on his own without the official permission of his government. In issuing the visas, Sugihara felt that he was risking his career, his future and even his safety. After the war, he was let go from the diplomatic service, and rather than being honored for his humanitarian initiative, he spent his life in disgrace, never recognized by Japan during his lifetime.