Re: Chiune Sugihara visa lists #general

Marcel Apsel

Several times people mentioned Chiune Sugihara as savior of Jews staying in
or around Kovno (Kaunas). He is bestowed as a Righteous of the Nations by
Yad Vashem, which is really correct. But I see that most of the people
don't know the whole story about giving visas to Jewish refugees. The whole
story was triggered of by the Dutch consul of Kovno (Kaunas) Jan
Zwartendijk, who was approached by some Dutch Jews staying in and around
Kaunas. They asked the consul if he could issue visa for the Dutch Indies
in order to be able to get out of Europe. In fact you didn't need to get a
visa for the Dutch Indies; you needed only a permission of the
governor-general of the Dutch Indies, which on the visa was 'forgotten' to
be mentioned. Which such a visa the Russians gave permission to those Jews
to travel to Vladivostok, the far East of the Soviet Union. But to
continue then you needed a transit visa for Japan in order to continue and
there the Japanese consul Chiune Siguhara, was contacted; he accepted to
help refugees to escape Eastern Europe by issuing Japanese transit visa,
without informing his government (or maybe in a hidden way). About 2.000 to
2.500 got both visa and we suppose that more than 10.000 people were saved
by the help of Jan Zwartendijk and Chiune Sugihara. The most funny thing is
that both consuls never met. At the end no Jew ended up in the Dutch
Indies; most of them (if not all of them) ended up in Shangai were they
stayed until the end of Worl War II. After that they spread all over
around. Jan Zwartendijk was also honored by Yad Vashem after his death in
1976. The Dutch writer Jan Brokken wrote recently an extensive book about
Jan Zwartendijk (in Dutch) and hopefully for English readers it will be
translated one day into English.

Marcel Apsel
Antwerpen, Belgium

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