Chiune Sugihara

Consul for Japan in Kovno, Lithuania, 1940

Sugihara issued Japanese visas to thousands of Polish Jews in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, between July 27 and August 28, 1940. He asked for and obtained an extension to remain in Kovno for an extra 20 days from the occupying Soviet government officials. He even issued visas as his train was leaving Kovno for his next assignment. He issued the visas against the express orders of his government. This allowed the refugees to escape to Kobe, Japan. From there, many were able to escape to the United States, Canada, South America, Australia and Palestine. About 1,000 refugees survived the war in Shanghai, China. In 1947, he was forced to resign from the Japanese diplomatic service. He always believed this was for his actions in Lithuania.