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Central Library DS135.L5 U68 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

In an extraordinary new volume, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reveals details of the famous "Sugihara rescue" during the summer of 1940, when foreign policy and human compassion converged for a fleeting moment. While the world's political landscape was in turmoil, foreign envoys of Japan and the Netherlands forged an unlikely alliance in Kaunas, Lithuania, that saved the lives of 2,100 Polish Jews.Survival depended on the actions of two diplomats who never met. Dutch consul Jan Zwartendijk and Chiune Sugihara, Japan's acting consul to Lithuania, worked in concert to provide Jews with the travel papers needed to escape. Men, women, and children crossed Soviet Russia aboard the Trans-Siberian Railroad and then sailed in cargo boats to Kobe, Japan, and finally to China. Many of them survived the war years in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Among the refugees were Menachem Begin, future prime minister of Israel, and Rabbi Eliezar Finkel and his students from Mir, Poland, the only Eastern European yeshiva to survive the Holocaust intact.Suddenly thrust into Asian society, treated alternately as tourists and displaced persons, the refugees adapted to Japanese and Chinese cultures while retaining a vibrant Jewish spiritual life. Through historic photographs, artifacts, documents, diaries, letters, and testimonies, this riveting volume unveils little-known facets ofa remarkable humanitarian effort.


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Reviews 1

Booklist Review

During the summer of 1940, Chiune Sugihara, Japan's acting consul in Kaunas (now Kovno), Lithuania, with the help of Jan Zwartendijk, the Dutch acting consul there, saved 2,178 Polish Jews by providing them with foreign transit visas. Much has been written about Sugihara, but this book focuses on the refugees' journey from Poland to Lithuania, then across the Soviet Union on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to the port of Vladivostok, by ship across the Sea of Japan to Tsuruga, and by train to Kobe. A majority of them survived World War II in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. With an introduction by Susan Bachrach, the narrative offers a profile of the refugees and details their journey and time spent in Shanghai, where they struggled to live in broken-down, cramped accommodations and with a scarcity of food. There, too, 300 students and rabbis of the Mir Yeshiva continued their rigorous studies. The book, with 335 photographs and illustrations, 150 in color, is a companion volume to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's exhibition of the same name. --George Cohen


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