Courage to Care is a travelling exhibition and educational program that inspires people to realise that each person can make a difference by choosing to be an Upstander rather than a Bystander in the face of injustice.

The program was developed to encourage an accepting, peaceful society, with understanding and respect for all. By using stories of Holocaust survivors and the Righteous Among the Nations – those who risked their own lives to save others – Courage to Care challenges people to consider their attitudes to prejudice, discrimination, racism and bullying.

 

THE STORY OF CHIUNE SUGIHARA

 

On the morning of 27 July 1940, Chiune Sugihara, a young career diplomat in the Japanese Foreign Service, looked out of the consulate windows in Kaunus (Kovno) in Lithuania to see some 200 Jewish refugees from Poland waiting outside the gate. Each day the numbers grew.

They came to beg Sugihara for transit visas to escape Poland and travel across the Soviet Union to Japan. Sugihara sought permission from Tokyo to issue the visas and was refused. Nevertheless, he decided to assist the desperate Jews saying: “I may have to disobey my government, but if I don’t I will be disobeying God”.

Working feverishly day and night, Sugihara wrote out visas by hand. When ink supplies became low and replacement impossible in war-time Lithuania, he watered down the remaining ink and kept writing. On 28 August the consulate closed and Sugihara was relocated to Berlin. In one month he had issued approximately 6000 visas. Because of his bravery, there are more than 40,000 descendants of the refugees he saved.

On his return to Tokyo after the war he was dismissed from the diplomatic service for disobeying orders. However, a group of Sugihara survivors located him and saw him honoured as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. Posthumously, Japan apologised for his dismissal and paid tribute to his humanitarian deeds.