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 TOIL 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.

“We have to keep before us the image of a single man, overtaxed, isolated and inundated, who refused to close his eyes to the chaos outside his window. He understood the obligations common to us all and heard in the pleadings of an alien tongue the universal message of pain.” David Wolpe, Opinion, The New York Times, 15 October 2018.

 

THE COURAGE OF WILLIAM COOPER

 

William Cooper was born in Australia on 18 December 1860 in Yorta Yorta territory.

He was an Australian Aboriginal political activist and community leader. His compassion extended beyond the suffering of his own people. In December 1938, several weeks after Kristallnacht in Germany, he lodged a personal protest against the treatment of European Jews in Nazi Germany, walking from his home in Footscray to the German consulate in South Melbourne. The protest has been referred to as “the only private protest against the Germans following Kristallnacht.”

In 2010, this was formally acknowledged with an education memorial, established in Cooper’s honour at Yad Vashem World Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

In June 2018, the Australian Electoral Commission renamed the federal Division of Batman to Division of Cooper in William Cooper’s honour.

 

 

THE GENEROSITY OF ALBANIA

 

Throughout WWII, nearly 2,000 Jews sought refuge in Albania. Most of these Jewish refugees were treated well by the local Albanian population, despite the fact that the country was occupied first by Fascist Italy, and then by Nazi Germany.

Albanians, following a traditional custom of hospitality known as besa, often sheltered Jewish refugees in mountain villages, and transported them to ports from where they fled to Italy. Other Jews joined resistance movements throughout the country. Hundreds of Jews received false documents fro the Albanian authorities and were smuggled to Albania to safety.

Virtually all of Albania’s native Jews survived the Holocaust, as did almost all the foreign Jews that sought refuge in the country. Albania, the only European country with a Muslim majority, emerged from the war with a population of Jews eleven times greater than at the beginning, numbering around 1,800. Most of the Jews subsequently emigrated to Israel. Sixty nine Albanians have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.