Discover the Impact of One Man's Extraordinary Act of Courage In the fall of 1939 Hitler's murderous wave was sweeping through Eastern Europe. In the face of the Nazi onslaught, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara made a ... more »decision that would change his life and thousands of others. With no possible hope for reward and at great risk to his family and career, Sugihara acted on his innermost beliefs and used his diplomatic power to rescue desperate Jewish refugees. As Japanese Consul to Lithuania, Sugihara defied Tokyo authorities by writing transit visas that were the sole remaining hope of Jews facing extermination. More than 2,000 Sugihara-stamped passports allowed hundreds of families to flee Europe through Russia to Japan and safe havens abroad. Today it is estimated that at least 40,000 people owe their existence to Sugihara?s heroism. Through unprecedented access to Sugihara's family and their personal home movies, photos, and papers, and interviews with Sugihara survivors and their descendants, viewers will discover an inspiring, little known story of personal courage, sacrifice, and dedication.« less
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 10/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To date, Chiune Sugihara is the only Japanese person who has been recognised by Yad Vashem as being one of the Righteous Among the Nations. I was lucky and privileged enough to see this film when the director showed it at a special screening at my university, a small intimate crowd in one of the rooms in the East Asian wing of the foreign language building. She really went to a lot of hard work to research Sugihara's life and to bring that story to life.
Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who was stationed in Lithuania on the eve of WWII, when a number of people from Poland had recently fled there. They, as well as many native Lithuanians, were desperate to leave Europe, or at least the part occupied by the Nazis, before it was too late. Even knowing he was breaking a lot of regulations and rules, Sugihara kept issuing visas, even having to forge them sometimes. Even as his train was pulling out of the station when he was recalled because of his behavior, he was still writing visas for people clinging onto the train, and he continued making out visas in the hotel he arrived at afterwards. The visas were written for the Dutch-controlled Curacão, but none of the people ever made it that far. They were able to travel to Japan, the alleged stopping-off point, but were able to stay there for the entire war. In all, he wrote about 2,500 visas, including ones for the entire Mir Yeshiva. Because he had broken the rules and written these visas without authorisation, Sugihara was dismissed from his job when he returned to Japan in 1947, and spent most of the rest of his life doing odd jobs. It wasn't till late in his life that he was finally recognised for the heroic thing he'd done, and like many people whom Yad Vashem has honored, felt he hadn't done anything special, but had only done what was right, what was expected, what a normal compassionate decent human being should do in such circumstances. This documentary does true justice to him, narrating a story about an ordinary human being who acted heroically in extraordinary circumstances."
His spirit will live forever in my heart.
T. Hasegawa | New Jersey USA | 01/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I happened to watch the premiere broadcasting of this title on PBS in May 2005. I was stunned and Sugihara instantly became my hero. Not just because of his humane actions during the difficult war time, but rather, his remarkable later life he chose to carry on. Despite of his extraordinary lingual skill in multiple languages back in those days, he was never hired as a diplomat again by the Japanese government due to his heroic but defying acts to his authority. I understand why he had to choose to live in countries other than Japan in his later life; for the sake of his belief. While the majority of Japanese congressmen are still reluctant to deal with and even to quote vandalism by the Japanese militarism in the WW2, Sugihara, THROUGHOUT his life, displayed what an ordinary compassionate person could do the extraordinary. Some scholars quote his act contradicts with the Japanese Samurai code, that is, being loyal to the master (in this case, to the Japanese government). I, however, believe he is a perfect example of Samurai who followed his heart as a person rather than personal benefit, and who later paid price for his action; abandon being a diplomat that had been his dream since his youth. Although his diplomatic carrier may have been cut short, he will remain in my heart and I am hoping his remarkable life keeps inspiring generations to come for our better future. One man can make a difference. A must-watch and well documented title."
Moving story skillfully told
Robert Lipsitz | Washington D.C. | 11/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most amazing stories I've seen about WW2. It comforting to know even within the heinous horrors of WW2 such compassion and decency existed.
To thank Sugihara for a nice deed, a jewish family invites him over for their Hanukah celebration. He is touched by the candle lighting ceremony. Sugihara who before this event knew little about Judaism would subsequently work to save 10,000 Jews from the ensuing Holocaust.
After the war Sugihara had to leave his family to work in Russia, under an assumed name (as he was fearful the Russians would not allow him to enter if they knew he was a prior diplomatic officer who manuevered against Russia). He living conditions were so bad that his son lamented that when he went to visit, Sugihara was reduced to eating potatoes boiled in a little pot above the toilet.
He was recognized for his deeds only very late in life as no one knew he was in Russia under an assumed name. The most touching moment in the movie is when the son of a Sugihara survivor comes to pay his respects to Sugihara's wife and breaks down in tears as he thanks her for her husband efforts. It would be hard for anyone to keep their eyes dry at this moment.
This amazing story is told very well via a combination of reenactments, narratives and interviews. Significant time is spent on the post war life of Sugihara, his family and the survivors making this a very complete history."
A little known but very imporant part of history
D. Green | 09/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a story that our family found fascinating, both in the amazing story of a man who made difficult choices to get Jews out of Poland, and at our total lack of knowledge of the events. It is every bit as compelling as Schindler's List, yet I doubt if there is even a tiny fraction our our country who even knew he existed."
Sugihara Conspiracy of Kindness
Risa Wolfson | 04/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sugihara - Conspiracy of Kindness This is an amazing story of how one man's actions saved the lives of thousands of people during the Holocaust. Mr. Sugihara defied his own country and wrote over 2,000 visas to allow Jews to be saved from certain death. It was very inspiring to learn about some one who did the right thing when it seemed like the rest of the world had lost its' sense of humanity. Mr. Sugihara is a hero for all generations."