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Japanese Ambassador Saves Jews from Gestapo

As a boy, Chiune Sugihara dreamed of becoming Japan's ambassador to Russia. By the 1930s, as ambassador to Lithuania, he was a step away from fulfilling his dream.

One morning a huge throng gathered outside his home. Sugihara learned they were Jews who'd fled there from Poland, seeking Sugihara's help for Japanese visas that would permit them to escape the German Gestapo.

Three times Sugihara wired Tokyo for permission to provide the visas; three times he was rejected. Sugihara, a committed Christian, had to choose between his dream and the lives of the crowd. Sugihara chose to disobey orders. For the next 28 days he wrote visas by hand, barely sleeping or eating. Recalled to Berlin, he departed still writing visas and shoving them through the train window into the hands of refugees running alongside.

Ultimately his work saved 6,000 lives. Back in Japan, Sugihara's remaining days were spent selling light bulbs. When his story was finally told, his son was asked, "How did your father feel about his choice?"

"My father's life was fulfilled. When God needed him to do the right thing, he was available to do it."

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