Heard of the remarkable Chiune Sugihara—a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis by issuing them papers to travel to Japan? Until a few days ago, when I saw J. D. Falksen’s post, I hadn’t.
“When the Nazis began rounding up Jews,” Falksen writes, citing a Wikipedia item, “Sugihara risked his life to start issuing unlawful travel visas to Jews. He hand-wrote them 18 hrs a day. The day his consulate closed and he had to evacuate, witnesses claim he was still writing visas and throwing from the train as he pulled away. He saved 6000 lives. The world didn’t know what he’d done until Israel honored him in 1985, the year before he died.”
In an era of many xenophobic politicians with scant empathy for refugees, Sugihara comes across as the ultimate anti-Trump even though he was a diplomat, not a politician. Born on January 1, 1900, he was nonwhite, nonJewish and even exposed to anti-Jewish propaganda from the Japanese military. But he was still willing to risk his career, so strong was his empathy. The Japanese government for the most part was hardly appreciative. Post diplomatic service, Sugihara was reduced at one point to selling light bulbs door to door.
Some English-language books about Sugihara exist, including a translation of Visas for Life, by his wife, Yukiko. Apparently it is available only on paper. But Alison Leslie Gold’s readable biography for young people—also suitable for adults—is on sale as a Kindle book. Kindle Unlimited members, in fact, can download A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust for free.
Detail: No, I’ll not say Trump is a full-strength Nazi to the point of being an anti-Semite (though I have no access to his actual thoughts). Rather, when I say Sugihara was the ultimate “anti-Trump” I’m talking about empathy. Still, Trump does show many fascist characteristics.
Photo credit: Here.