Chiune Sugihara and the Soviet Union: New Documents, New Perspectives

Seminar on Russian and Eurasian Jewry
Event Format
In person
CGIS South, S354, 1730 Cambridge St

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.

Remote video URL


The seminar is co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, both at Harvard University.


The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 617-495-4037 or in advance of your participation or visit. Requests for Sign Language interpreters and/or CART providers should be made at least two weeks in advance if possible. Please note that the Davis Center will make every effort to secure services but that services are subject to availability.