“Do what’s right because it is right.”
Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese consul-general in Kaunas, Lithuania.
In July 1940, Jews living in Kaunus looked to flee the country. But to do so, they needed transit visas from the Japanese consulate, one of two consulates still open in the city.
So they gathered outside his consulate for help.
Three times Chiune asked the Japanese government for permission to issue them visas. And all three times he was denied.
He decided to overrule the decision of his superiors.
From July 31 to August 28, 1940, he worked up to twenty hours a day writing and signing visas by hand. He wrote as many in a day as was the typical output for a consul in a month.
The flood of people looking for a visa didn’t stop. They stood outside the consulate day and night. And he kept issuing visas.
He only stopped because the consulate was shut down and he was forced to leave.
Chiune rescued about 6,000 people over the course of the month.
When asked why he helped, he said because, “They were human beings and they needed help.”