Today we visited a museum in Tsuruga devoted to a part of history we hadn’t heard before.
The man on the left in the picture above, Chiune Sugihara, was responsible for saving the lives of about 6,000 Jewish people during World War II. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, many Polish Jews fled to Lithuania, where they were safe until Stalin began arresting them and sending them to Siberia.
On July 18, 1940, hoping for safe passage to Japan, many Jewish people gathered at the Japanese Consulate in Lithuania; however, very few of them met the current requirements to obtain a Japanese visa. Mr. Sugihara decided to ignore the rules and began issuing as many visas as he could and he stamped 2,000 passports before the consulate closed. Because a visa allowed all family members to travel, he was able to save about 6,000 Jews altogether.
Many of the Jewish families crossed Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and then took a boat from Vladivostok to Tsuruga, where Japanese families welcomed them until they could continue their journey, primarily to the United States and Australia. To raise money, most of the refugees sold their watches and jewelry to the Watanabe Watch Store in Tsuruga. The Watanabe family kept the watch below as a keepsake; the watch is now in the Port of Humanity Museum in Tsuruga.
In addition to the Tsuruga Museum, there is a memorial to Chiune Sugihara in Boston, Massachusetts. He died in 1986 at the age of 86.
After lunch, John had to troubleshoot the brake lights in the 1928 Roadster — Leo and I had noticed during yesterday’s drive that they weren’t working. It turned out to be just a fuse this time — an easy fix once John located a spare. Now all we have to do is finish our laundry and we’ll be ready to tackle the ferry to Valdivostok!