In 1940 with Europe already at war, Japanese diplomat-spy Chiune Sugihara (often called the “Japanese Schindler”) ignored direct orders from Foreign Minister Matsuoka and issued over 2,000 Japanese transit visas to Jews stranded in Lithuania after the invasion of Poland. But these visas would have been worthless without Soviet transit visas to cross from Kaunas/Kovno to Vladivostok. Why did Stalin approve this transit, supervised by Molotov, Mikoyan, and Beria? How did nearly 4,000 Jews travel on 2,000 visas? Documents from Soviet and Japanese archives collected, edited, and published by Japan’s Slavic-Eurasian Research Center and the Holocaust Research Center in Moscow provide answers to these questions and more. Sugihara remains the only Japanese citizen designated as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
The seminar is co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, both at Harvard University.
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