Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 hundreds of thousands of Jews and other Polish citizens fled eastward ahead of the advancing German army; many refugees found at least temporary safety in Lithuania. Options for escape were limited and required diplomatic visas to cross international borders. One route was through Asia using a combination of permits issued by foreign envoys responding to the refugee crisis: a bogus visa for entrance to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao and a visa for transit through Japan.
One such diplomat was Japanese Imperial Consul Chiune Sugihara, the first Japanese diplomat posted in Lithuania. In the absence of clear instructions from his government in Tokyo, Sugihara granted 10-day visas to Japan to hundreds of refugees who held Curaçao destination visas. After issuing some 1800 visas, Sugihara finally received a response to his cables alerting the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo of the situation in Lithuania. The Foreign Ministry reported that individuals with visas headed for the United States and Canada had arrived in Japan without money or final destination visas. In his response, Sugihara admitted to issuing visas to people who had not completed all arrangements for destination visas explaining that Japan was the only transit country available for going in the direction of the United States, and his visas were needed to leave the Soviet Union. By the time the Soviets ordered all diplomatic consulates closed, in late August 1940, Sugihara had saved thousands of Jews over the course of just a few weeks. Because of his efforts, Yad Vashem awarded him the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1984.
The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to materials on Chiune Sugihara that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.
Fogelman, Eva. Conscience and Courage: The Rescuers of the Jews During the Holocaust. New York: Anchor Books, 1994 (D 810 .R4 F64 1994) [Find in a library near you]
Relates stories about Sugihara and his efforts to save Jews in the context of other rescue efforts during the Holocaust. Examines the motivation of Sugihara and other rescuers, including personal, psychological, and historical factors. Discusses the impact of Sugihara’s rescue efforts on his post-war life.
Ganor, Solly. Light One Candle: A Survivor’s Tale from Lithuania to Jerusalem. New York: Kodansha International, 1995. (DS 135 .L52 K384 1995) [Find in a library near you]
Describes the atmosphere in the Kaunas Jewish community during the Russian and German occupations and the conditions surrounding Sugihara’s rescue efforts. Relates the author’s meeting with Sugihara in Kaunas as an eleven-year old boy and the friendly relationship that developed between them. Provides a brief and personal glimpse of Sugihara.
Goodman, David G., and Masanori Miyazawa. Jews in the Japanese Mind: The History and Uses of a Cultural Stereotype. New York: Free Press, 1995. (DS 146 .J3 G66 1995) [Find in a library near you]
Sugihara’s rescue efforts are described as a contrast to the stereotyped treatment of Jews in Japanese culture and government policy during World War II. Recounts the way Sugihara has been memorialized in Japan, particularly in the context of Japanese-Jewish relations.
Klein, Dennis B., editor, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto. Boston: Little, Brown, 1997. (Oversize DS 135 .L52 K384 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Includes an overview of Sugihara’s role in issuing visas to assist Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Places this story in the context of other rescue attempts in the ghetto. Based on the exhibition of the same name held at the United States Holocaust Museum.
Kranzler, David. Japanese, Nazis & Jews: The Jewish Refugee Community of Shanghai, 1938-1945. New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1976. (DS 135 .C5 K7 1976) [Find in a library near you]
Relates the basic story of Sugihara’s rescue efforts. Provides greater details on those he saved, especially the Mir Yeshiva students, and describes their experiences coming from Lithuania to Shanghai.
Levine, Hillel. In Search of Sugihara: The Elusive Japanese Diplomat who Risked his Life to Rescue 10,000 Jews From the Holocaust. New York: Free Press, 1996. (D 804.66 .S84 L48 1996) [Find in a library near you]
Traces Sugihara’s development as a linguist and diplomat, and explores the motives for his rescue efforts. Uses archival research, interviews with those who knew Sugihara, and a survey of significant events in early twentieth-century Japanese history. Provides a detailed history of the Holocaust in Kaunas, Sugihara’s rescue efforts, and his post-war life.
Ross, James R. Escape to Shanghai: A Jewish Community in China. New York: Free Press, 1994. (DS 135 .C5 R67 1994) [Find in a library near you]
Focuses on the Shanghai Jewish community and Japanese policies in Shanghai and Europe during World War II. Describes Sugihara’s rescue efforts in context of the community.
Tobias, Sigmund. Strange Haven: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Shanghai. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999. (DS 135 .C5 T63 1999) [Find in a library near you]
Personal account of a German Jewish boy who fled with his parents to Shanghai during the war. Includes several pages dealing with Sugihara and many more recounting the author’s experiences in Shanghai and his adoption by the Mir Yeshiva, which was saved by Sugihara. Includes many references to the conditions in Kaunas, Sugihara’s efforts there, and those he saved.
Tokayer, Marvin, and Mary Swartz. The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During World War II. New York: Weatherhill, 1996. (DS 135 .C5 T64 1996) [Find in a library near you]
Interweaves the story of Sugihara’s activities in Lithuania with the efforts of other Japanese military and governmental officials to create a “safe haven” for Jewish refugees in Asia during the Holocaust. An earlier edition of this work was published as Desperate Voyagers (New York: Dell Publishing, 1979).
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Flight and Rescue. Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 2001. (Oversize DS 135 .L5 U68 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Published in conjunction with the special exhibition of the same name, this volume relates the story and experiences of European Jews who tried to flee Nazi-occupied Europe. Includes several pages devoted to Sugihara and his role in rescue. Contains endnotes, illustrations, a timeline, and an index.
Bauer, Yehuda. “Rescue Operations Through Vilna.” Yad Vashem Studies 9 (1973): 215-223. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v.9) [Find in a library near you]
Recounts attempts by organizations of Lithuanian Jewry in Lithuania and abroad to help Jews escape the occupation. Includes an account of Sugihara’s activities to aid Jews and his communications with the Japanese Foreign Office.
Gold, Alison Leslie. A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara, Hero of the Holocaust. New York: Scholastic Press, 2000. (D 804.66 .S84 G66 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the life and rescue activities of Sugihara and his family. Includes illustrations of Japanese transit visas and photographs of Sugihara’s family. Written for young adults.
Halter, Marek. Stories of Deliverance: Speaking with Men and Women who Rescued Jews from the Holocaust. Chicago: Open Court, 1998. (D 804.65 H3513 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Includes interviews with Nathan Gutwirth and Zorah Wahrhaftig, two individuals saved due to Sugihara’s intervention. Recounts the process they went through to obtain Japanese transit visas. Contains interviews with Sugihara’s wife and son.
Mochizuki, Ken, and Dom Lee. Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story. New York: Lee & Low Books, 1997. (D 804.3 .M63 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Tells Sugihara’s story from the perspective of his 5-year-old-son, Hiroki. Begins in 1940 and goes through the end of the mission in September of that year. Describes the courage displayed in Sugihara’s rescue activities, as well as his relationship with his son. Includes illustrations and an afterword by Hiroki Sugihara. Written for young adults.
Paldiel, Mordecai. “Lithuania: Where is Curaçao?” Chap. 3 in Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust. Jersey City, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 2007. (D 804.65 .P347 2007) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses the activities of Sugihara and Jan Zawartendijk to help Jews escape Lithuania using Japanese and Dutch visas. Includes a bibliography, endnotes, and an index.
Paldiel, Mordecai. “Sugihara, Sempo.” In Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, edited by Israel Gutman, 1423-1424. New York: Macmillan, 1990. (Ref D 810 .J4 E6 1990 v.4) [Find in a library near you]
Highlights Sugihara’s efforts to save Jews by issuing Japanese visas, which resulted in their immediate evacuation from Nazi-occupied Lithuania and their transit to the island of Curaçao.
Paldiel, Mordecai. “Sempo Sugihara.” In The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust, 252-257. Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav Publishing House, 1992. (D 810 .R4 P35 1992) [Find in a library near you]
An overview of Sugihara’s rescue efforts in Lithuania from 1939 to 1940 as they relate to his receiving the title “Righteous Among the Nations” from Yad Vashem.
Sakamoto, Pamela Rotner. Japanese Diplomats and Jewish Refugees: A World War II Dilemma. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. (DS 135 .J3 S26 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Examines Sugihara’s rescue efforts in the context of his diplomatic mission. Explores how and why other Japanese, including diplomats, ship captains, and immigration officials complied with these rescue efforts.
Saul, Eric. Visas For Life: The Remarkable Story of Chiune & Yukiko Sugihara and the Rescue of Thousands of Jews. San Francisco: Holocaust Oral History Project, 1995. (DS 135 .L52 K388 1995) [Find in a library near you]
Tracks Sugihara’s mission in Kaunas and the family’s post-war life. Includes numerous photographs of Sugihara and his family. Based on a photographic exhibit “Visas for Life” shown at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance and the California State Capitol.
Silver, Eric. “The Honorable Consuls.” In The Book of the Just: The Unsung Heroes who Rescued Jews from Hitler, 38-42. New York: Grove Press, 1994. (D 804.3 .S55 1994) [Find in a library near you]
Recounts the chronology of Sugihara’s rescue efforts and stresses the circumstances in which he worked. Begins with the plan for Jews to flee Europe using visas to Curaçao and how this plan came to involve Sugihara’s transit visas.
Sugihara, Yukiko. Visas for Life. San Francisco: Edu-Comm Plus, 1995. (DS 890.S77 A3 1995) [Find in a library near you]
First-hand account of Chiune Sugihara’s rescue efforts, as written by his wife and translated from the Japanese by their son, Hiroki. Also relates the details of their life following the war. Includes numerous photographs, a chronology of important dates in Sugihara’s life, and a list of the awards and special acknowledgements he received. Also published in Japanese as Rokusennin no inochi no biza (Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1990).
Warhaftig, Zorach. Refugee and Survivor: Rescue Efforts During the Holocaust. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1988. (D 810 .R4 W274 1988) [Find in a library near you]
Recounts the author’s role in developing the strategy for refugees to apply for Japanese transit visas from the consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. Focuses on rescue efforts and personal actions taken by Sugihara to assist Jewish refugees. Includes photographs of transit visas issued by Sugihara and related photographs from the period.
Explore our comprehensive entries on the events, people, and places of the Holocaust.
Film and Video
Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness [videorecording]. Boston: WGBH Boston Video, 2005. (DVD Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Tells the story of Chiune Sugihara and the transit visas he issued that allowed hundreds of Jewish families to flee Europe through Russia to Japan and other countries. Includes home movies, photographs, film footage, and interviews with Holocaust survivors who owe their lives to Chiune Sugihara.
Visas and Virtue [videorecording]. Los Angeles: Cedar Grove Productions, 1997. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Dramatization of how diplomat Chiune Sugihara defied his own government and risked his career by issuing life-saving transit visas to Jewish refugees in Kaunas, Lithuania.
The Visas That Saved Lives [videorecording]. Teaneck, NJ: Ergo Media, 1992. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Dramatization of the true story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Lithuanian Jews during World War II by granting them visas, though it cost him his own career. Original story by his wife, Yukiko Sugihara.
Museum Web Resources
Details the life, work, and rescue activities of Sugihara. Includes video clips of survivors discussing Sugihara’s assistance, views of artifacts, and links to related online content.
An annotated online bibliography of resources about rescuers during the Holocaust. Presents materials related to the activities and motivations of rescuers and links to online content.
Ask at the reference desk to see the subject file labeled “Sugihara, Chiune, 1900-1986” containing newspaper and periodical articles.
To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on Chiune Sugihara or related topics, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:
- Sugihara, Chiune, 1900-1986
- World War, 1939-1945–Jews–Rescue–Lithuania–Kaunas
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)–Lithuania–Kaunas
- Righteous Gentiles in the Holocaust