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Japan funds save Lithuania museum on diplomat who saved Jews

23 Comments
By LIUDAS DAPKUS

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A noble effort on the part of the residents of Gifu Prefecture to preserve the memory of one of its noblest sons. Good job, Gifu!

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Good for Japan for doing this.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Not our tax money so good job people!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The government in Lithuania, the southernmost Baltic country that once was the home to a large Jewish community, has declared 2020 as “the year of Chiune Sugihara.”

Sugihara was a man of principle. He deserves to be remembered. However Lithuania, a country with a toxic anti-Semitic history, still isn't quite as sympathetic towards Jews as it would appear in this article.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2015/07/lithuania-and-nazis-the-country-wants-to-forget-its-collaborationist-past-by-accusing-jewish-partisans-of-war-crimes.html

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

However Lithuania, a country with a toxic anti-Semitic history,

Oh God. Why single out Lithuania? All of Europe has a toxic anti-Semitic history and so does North America.

I salute people like Chiune Sugihara and Oskar Schindler for doing the right thing despite what their so-called "friends" demanded and despite the objections and apathy of the people around them and even the risk of being ratted out by them. Mostly history is filled with worthless, horrible people and only a few diamonds like these.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sugihara was a man of principle.

He was also a spy, collecting information on Russian activity in Lithuania. His first wife was Russian. After he was fired by the Foreign Ministry in 1947, he ended up back in Moscow, where his multi-lingual talents earned him a job with a trading company. His family stayed in Japan. He wasn't alone in issuing visas to Jewish residents of Kaunas, the Dutch vice-consul also handed them out.

Fighto!Today 07:33 am JST

Good for Japan for doing this.

It's the people of Gifu. Sugihara was sacked by the Foreign Ministry for what he did. He got off lightly. Under the State Secrecy Law enacted by the Abe government in 2013 he would have been liable for up to 10 years in jail.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Where is the Jewish contribution? You would think the Jewish people would be the first to contribute to keep the place open

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Lithuanians still need to live down their legacy of fascism and antisemitism and fess up to their dark past. In mitigation it would be dishonest to deny that that this small land of peasants was caught between rocks and hard places (Russia and Poland, Hitler and Stalin) and the fact that the languages spoken by its significant Jewish population (Yiddish, Polish, Russian, but not the difficult Lithuanian) only emphasized the Jewish minority's foreign presence and sense of separation from the Christian majority and, tragically, played no small role in the inability and unwillingness of most Lithuanians powerless to prevent the horrific massacres of Jews perpetrated on Lithuanian soil.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Oh God. Why single out Lithuania? All of Europe has a toxic anti-Semitic history and so does North America.

Pretty obviously, Vanessa, because Lithuania is the subject of this story.

Yes, all of Europe does have an anti-Semitic history, to varying degrees. Lithuania, along with a few others, is worse than some. And as far as I'm aware no government in North America has ever instituted pogroms or programs of mass extermination against its Jewish residents.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

And as far as I'm aware no government in North America has ever instituted pogroms or programs of mass extermination against its Jewish residents.

Well yeah. No need to focus on the Jews as they had the native population to do that to!

One must remember two very important things. One is that Lithuania was occupied first by the Soviets. Then the Germans invaded and the Lithuanians thought them to be liberators. The second thing is that Lithuania had a pretty large Jewish population and it was known the Nazis were targeting them. Some people were definitely out to appease the Nazis by handing over or directly murdering the Jews in Lithuania.

But you began with the word "toxic" which is odd. Its a somewhat weak word that applies to so many. The Lithuanians were not toxic in the sense that others were. Lithuanians were downright "murderous". While the Nazis were at first interested in slave labor and then moved on to mass murder, the Lithuanians just began with mass murder with far more speed and efficiency than even the Nazis of that particular point in time. They have a bad history but it must be put in the context of the Soviet invasion followed by the Nazi invasion as well as the fact humans are very prone to scapegoating others to save themselves. Lithuanians were in a very peculiar situation and I believe most people in the same situation would do the same.

And that is why the example of Chiune Sugihara needs drummed into people's heads. They need examples of courage and righteousness and bravery or else they will succumb to scapegoating, collaboration and murder.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Quite ironic, given what Sugiura faced when he returned to Japan... Another instance of the LDP attempting to rewrite history to capitalize on actions that the government once prosecuted.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@fighto

Good for Japan for doing this.

"Japan" didn't do this, donations from the Japanese public did this. Quite different. As others have pointed out, Japan treated this man appallingly, even after the war. Chiune Sugihara was also a Christian, which is something else that is left out of the article, and most articles about him.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

But you began with the word "toxic" which is odd. Its a somewhat weak word that applies to so many.

Well, as "toxic" means poisonous... venomous... virulent...dangerous... (and that's just a quick grab from the net), I think describing it as a "somewhat weak" word is a bit odd itself. It's a strong word, and the fact that it applies to so many, as you say, doesn't make it any less so.

But as for the rest of that paragraph, and the post itself, I have no problem with the way you describe things. You're just a bit less cautious with your language than I am. The same historical considerations vis-a-vis Soviet Russia also apply to Latvia and the Ukraine, both of which had far more enthusiastic and brutal Nazi collaborators than they care to admit these days. Those considerations don't apply so much, say, to Croatia or Romania or Hungary.

Denmark is a good example of the opposite side of the story. 90% of their Jews survived the War, because the Danes refused to accept Nazi demands to hand them over and made sure they escaped.

https://www.history.com/news/wwii-danish-jews-survival-holocaust

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Denmark is a good example of the opposite side of the story. 90% of their Jews survived the War, because the Danes refused to accept Nazi demands to hand them over and made sure they escaped.

But only because the Jewish population was well-integrated (unlike in Lithuania) and small enough for 90% to escape with the help of Danes to nearby neutral Sweden. The Nazis had to tread carefully and negotiate gingerly with their Western Germanic neighbors in stark contrast to their ruthless actions and murderous treatment of Slavs and their helpless, large Jewish populations in the murky hinterlands of Eastern Europe far from the scrutiny of the eyes of the world.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But only because the Jewish population was well-integrated (unlike in Lithuania) and small enough for 90% to escape with the help of Danes to nearby neutral Sweden.

All true, but something was gut-level different in the attitudes of the Danes towards Jews that allowed that integration to happen in the first place. Maybe it was the relatively small size of the Jewish population and the Jews not being seen as some kind of economic threat, but if that benign attitude hadn't existed it would've been just as easy for the Danes to give up the Jews rather than help them and send them off to Sweden.

It's also true that many Jews in Germany and Austria were (they thought) so completely integrated into and a part of the wider society that they couldn't imagine any harm would come to them. They were Germans and Austrians first and foremost, not Jews. A tragic mistake. Another interesting situation was in Bulgaria, where the Jewish population was not so nearly integrated into Bulgarian society as a whole and yet the majority of the people, the politicians and even the Bulgarian Orthodox church refused to countenance the idea of their Jews (but not Jews in territories that Bulgaria had occupied in Yugoslavia and Greece) being sent off to Treblinka.

It's a complex subject, too much so to explore properly within the format of brief postings. Maybe the answer lies somewhere in the distinction between tolerance - with its close cousin, the nowhere near so benign idea of toleration - and acceptance.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There is no need to thank Japan for this because it was the people of Gifu that collected the money:

However, people from Gifu Prefecture on the Japanese island of Honshu, where Sugihara was born, raised some 30,000 euros (about $35,600) to help the museum survive the pandemic.

And on top of that, Japan was not very humanitarian in 1947 either, as they have fired him for what he has done, therefore Japanese government at the time did not care what was happening to the Jews!

Sugihara was reassigned elsewhere in Europe, and when he returned to Japan in 1947, he was fired.

And that goes in line with the axes of evil that Japan, Germany and Italy vere part of.... And we can all be very grateful that the German sub which was carrying uranium oxide from Germany to Japan was sunk before it could make it's delivery...

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Fascist Italy under Mussolini also largely avoided persecuting or targeting their jewish population - and they were Hitler’s main ally. The Lithuanians have a lot to answer for.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

From the Wikipedia article on Sugihara, extract from an interview in 1985.

"You want to know about my motivation, don't you? Well. It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes. Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes...

"... I do it just because I have pity on the people. They want to get out so I let them have the visas."

Sugihara died the following year... Despite the publicity given him in Israel and other nations, he remained virtually unknown in his home country. Only when a large Jewish delegation from around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, attended his funeral, did his neighbors find out what he had done. His subsequent considerable posthumous acclaim contrasts with the obscurity in which he lived following the loss of his diplomatic career.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiune_Sugihara#Resignation

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Well done Mister sugihara. You saved future of Japan.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

What a treasure of little known history. And what a noble gift.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The righteous Sugihara displayed exemplary nobility with his selfless duty to humanity and by acting to save the lives of many Jews, yet the risk he ran to his life and liberty cannot be compared to that of those few Lithuanians who, refusing to be cowed like the majority of their countrymen by the Gestapo and their henchmen, put their lives on the line by sheltering and rescuing Jews from fascist persecution. Not all Lithuanians had Jewish blood on their hands.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lithuania was one of the countries in the so called " The Pale of settlement " where Jews were allowed settle permanently or temporarily. I'm grateful for Chiune's act of facilitation a passage to freedom for a people in need. Badly treated at home and died a lonely man. At least he stands out to me because NOT one Japanese stood up for me recently when I needed help from themselves.

@Alfie

He was also a spy, collecting information on Russian activity in Lithuania. His first wife was Russian. After he was fired by the Foreign Ministry in 1947, he ended up back in Moscow, where his multi-lingual talents earned him a job with a trading company. His family stayed in Japan. He wasn't alone in issuing visas to Jewish residents of Kaunas, the Dutch vice-consul also handed them out.

Thanks ! I Didn't know that.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Kiichiro Higuchi

As a major general and the commander of the Japanese-occupied Chinese Harbin Special Branch in 1937-1938, he, with the help of Yosuke Matsuoka, allowed many Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany to cross the border from Otpor, USSR to Manchouli (a city in the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo), in an event which later became known as the Otpor Incident. Higuchi's subordinates were responsible for feeding the refugees, settling them in Harbin or Shanghai, and arranging for exit visas. General Hideki Tojo, then Chief of staff of the Kwantung Army, assented to Higuchi's view that the German policy against the Jews was a serious humanitarian concern. Higuchi's lieutenant Norihiro Yasue advocated for the protection of Jewish refugees to General Seishiro Itagaki, which led to the establishment of the Japanese Jewish Policy Program in 1938.

People who want to undermine Japan and the Japanese military don't talk about him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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