Chiune Sugihara saves thousands of Jewish people

Black and white photograph of Chiune Sugihara wearing a suit with a pocket square and a tie, sitting at a desk while looking up from reading a document in his hands.
Chiune Sugihara

“In life, do what’s right because it’s right.”

Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese consul-general in Kaunas, Lithuania.

In July 1940, Jews living in Kaunus were looking 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 the consulate for help.

Chiune asked his superiors for permission to issue visas. He was denied. He overruled the decision. And from July 31 to August 28, 1940, Chiune worked up to twenty hours a day writing and signing visas by hand, distributing as many visas in a day as was the typical output for a consul in a month. He ate little and at night his wife massaged his tired hands.

On August 28th 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, “They were human beings and they needed help.”


  • Please consider supporting Historical Snapshots with a donation if you enjoyed this snapshot biography. Visit our Patreon page to donate. Thank you for supporting us.