Descendants of WWII Hero Chiune Sugihara Meet with Those He Saved

Chiune Sugihara's great-granddaughter Oriha met with Richard Salomon, whose family was saved by Sugihara's courageous decision to issue transit visas to Jewish refugees in WWII. The reunion in Chicago honored Sugihara's legacy, which saved over 2,100 lives and inspired generations with his moral courage.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Descendants of WWII Hero Chiune Sugihara Meet with Those He Saved

Descendants of WWII Hero Chiune Sugihara Meet with Those He Saved

In Chicago, a poignant reunion took place between the descendants of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who risked everything to save over 2,100 Jews during World War II, and individuals alive today due to his heroic actions. Oriha Sugihara, a great-granddaughter of Chiune, met with Richard Salomon, whose father and uncle were among the thousands saved by Sugihara's courageous decision to issue transit visas.

Why this matters: This story highlights the importance of individual courage and moral conviction in the face of adversity, serving as a powerful reminder of the impact one person can have on the lives of others. It also underscores the significance of preserving and honoring the legacies ofheroes like Chiune Sugihara, who risked everything to stand up against injustice and oppression.

In 1940, Sugihara, then serving as a Japanese consul in Kaunas, Lithuania, chose to defy orders from his superiors and issued visas to Jewish refugees, allowing them to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. This selfless act ultimately cost him his job and livelihood, leaving him penniless on the streets of Tokyo. Despite the personal sacrifices, Sugihara believed his decision was worth every hardship. "The compassion to help someone, it's the philosophy within our family, so natural to do," Oriha Sugihara explains.

Sugihara's story remained largely unknown until late in his life. In 1984, just two years before his death, he was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It was only then that he learned the true impact of his actions, discovering that he had saved over 2,100 lives. "He said he had no choice but to do it. He had to answer to a higher authority: his own God," Richard Salomon recounts.

Sugihara's family, including his wife Yukiko, aided him in his tireless efforts, signing and stamping visas for a month. Their actions directly saved an estimated 6,000 individuals. "He signed about 2,138 visas, but many of them were entire families," Salomon notes. "The Talmud teaches that saving one life means saving humanity."

The reunion in Chicago, organized by the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, brought together the descendants of a true hero and those whose lives were forever changed by his bravery. "Without the righteous actions of your grandfather and great-grandfather, I would not be standing on this stage," Richard Salomon told Oriha Sugihara. "I have a daughter... She will live a full life, God willing, and she will have her own family, and it is all thanks to Mr. Sugihara."

Chiune Sugihara's legacy continues to inspire generations, serving as a shining example of the power of compassion and moral courage in the face of adversity. His descendants, like Oriha Sugihara, carry on his mission of helping others and cherishing the bonds formed through his heroic deeds. The reunion in Chicago stands as a testament to the enduring impact of one man's selfless actions and the countless lives forever changed by his bravery.

Key Takeaways

  • Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat, saved over 2,100 Jews during WWII by issuing transit visas.
  • Sugihara's courageous act cost him his job and livelihood, but he believed it was worth every hardship.
  • He was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem in 1984, just two years before his death.
  • Sugihara's family, including his wife, aided him in his efforts, directly saving an estimated 6,000 individuals.
  • The reunion in Chicago brought together Sugihara's descendants and those whose lives were changed by his bravery.