Raoul Wallenberg and Sugihara Chiune
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. In the second half of 1944 he displayed great personal courage in saving tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust while being posted in Budapest. The Swedish Government has decided to commemorate his actions throughout the year, not least to remind us of the horrors that can occur if we do not say no to anti-Semitism, xenophobia and persecution. Recently there was an article in the international press, signed by the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affair, Carl Bildt.
The Holocaust might seem to be something that belongs to the past, but the threat is still there and we must never forget what happened in order to avoid similar developments in the present and the future. Unfortunately, genocides continue to occur in many corners of the world and serious threats against the Jews also continue to be a reality. This is unacceptable.
There was also a Japanese diplomat who saved many Jews from the Holocaust in the 1940′s. His name was Sugihara Chiune (family name first) and he served in Lithuania, where there was a large Jewish community at the time. In direct violation of the policies of his government, he issued some 10,000 transit visas for Jews who had to flee their country. There is a book in English describing his actions, “In Search of Sugihara”, by Hillel Levine, The Free Press, New York, 1996. It is well worth reading (ISBN 0-684-83251-8).