I was five years old.
In 1940 my father was a diplomat, representing the country of Japan. Our family lived in a small town in the small country called Lithuania…one early morning in late July, my life changed forever…
“There are a lot of people outside,” my mother said. ‘We don’t know what is going to happen…They have come to ask for your father’s help…Unless we help, they may be killed or taken away by some bad men.”
My father said to my mother, “I have to do something. I may have to disobey my government, but if I don’t, I will be disobeying God.”
Back then, I did not fully understand what [my father] had done, or why it was so important.
Hiroki Sugihara tells about the weeks when his father wrote permits for several thousand Jews to travel across Russia to Japan. That was the only direction these people could go to escape from the Nazis who wanted to kill them. If they could take a train all the way across Russia, and a ship to Japan, they could go on to other countries and live safely.
The Japanese government ordered Mr. Sugihara not to write the travel permits. Mr. Sugihara knew he could be punished, but he wrote permit after permit, day after day, until he was sent away from Lithuania.
Hiroki Sugihara, who wrote Passage to Freedom, was that five-year-old boy.