• Sugihara House
What is today the Sugihara House was home to the Japanese Consulate in Kaunas (Russian: Kovno) in 1939/1940. Between 1920 and 1939, Kaunas was the provisional capital of independent Lithuania. The house is named after Japanese Deputy Consul Chiune Sugihara who enabled the flight of many Jews by providing them with Japanese transit visas.
Image: Kaunas, 1939, Sugihara and his family, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 1939, Sugihara and his family, Sugiharos namai

Image: Kaunas, 2003, The office of Chiune Sugihara, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 2003, The office of Chiune Sugihara, Sugiharos namai
The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in 1940. As a result, the Soviet authorities severely restricted Jewish life in Kaunas. Residing in the city at this point - apart from the approximately 40,000 local Jews - were many Jewish refugees from Poland and Germany. Due to the political developments, many Jews tried to obtain exit visas to be able to leave Lithuania. It was, however, becoming more and more difficult to obtain these life-saving documents as the Soviets were demanding all diplomatic missions in Kaunas to be closed down.
Chiune Sugihara (1900–1986) ignored an official ban of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and continued issuing the much coveted transit visas until the closure of the Japanese Consulate in Kaunas on August 28, 1940. Since Sugihara could only issue handwritten visas, he would work 18-hour days at that time to meet the demand. In all, he most probably issued 2,139 visas. Thanks to this around 6,000 Jewish men, women and children could escape via the Soviet Union to Japan. From there a part of the refugees made it into Japanese occupied Shanghai, others went on to the US. Sugihara's actions helped save many Jews from certain death.
Image: Kaunas, 1939, Sugihara and his family, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 1939, Sugihara and his family, Sugiharos namai

Image: Kaunas, 2003, The office of Chiune Sugihara, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 2003, The office of Chiune Sugihara, Sugiharos namai
The museum is dedicated to the memory of Chiune Sugihara (1900–1986), who helped over 6,000 Jews to flee from Lithuania in the months before the German invasion.


Image: Kaunas, 1940, Jews standing in the queue in front of the Japanese consulate, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 1940, Jews standing in the queue in front of the Japanese consulate, Sugiharos namai

Image: Kaunas, 2011, »Memory Gate«, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 2011, »Memory Gate«, Sugiharos namai
After leaving Kaunas, Sugihara worked in Prague, Königsberg and Bucharest. When the Red Army entered Rumania, he was interned by the Soviets. He came free in 1946. He had to leave the diplomatic service in 1947, his activities in Lithuania likely to have been the main reason. Sugihara died in 1986. A year before his death, he was honoured by Yad Vashem as one of the »Righteous among the Nations.«
In December 1999, a non-profit foundation was established in Kaunas called »Sugihara Fund – Diplomats for Life«. Its goals are to keep the memory of Sugihara alive, to help Holocaust victims through financial support and to promote cultural exchange between Japan and Lithuania. The Sugihara House, a small residential house built in the style of the 1920s, houses a small museum and two research centres of the Vytautas Magnus University of Kaunas: the Centre for Japanology and the Centre for Research on Rescue for Victims of Genocide. The exhibit in Chiune Sugihara's former office was opened in 2001 by his widow, Yukiko Sugihara.
Image: Kaunas, 1940, Sugihara and his family in front of the consulate, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 1940, Sugihara and his family in front of the consulate, Sugiharos namai

Image: Kaunas, 2003, Sugihara House, external view, Sugiharos namai
Kaunas, 2003, Sugihara House, external view, Sugiharos namai
Name
Sugiharos namai
Address
Vaižganto g. 30
44229 Kaunas
Phone
+370 (8)37 423 277
Fax
+370 (8)37 423 277
Web
http://www.sugiharahouse.lt/
E-Mail
sugiharahouse@yahoo.com
Open
October to May: Mondays to Fridays, 12.00 noon to 6.00 p.m., June to September: Mondays to Fridays, 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.,
Saturdays and Sundays: 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
Possibilities
Public discussions, seminars, lectures, conferences, exhibitions, documentation centre with library