Individual, Collective and Institutional Aid

Individual, Collective and Institutional Aid

The German policy toward Jews residing in the occupied countries of Europe led to their Gentile neighbours unwillingly becoming witnesses to its implementation. This particularly affected the population of Eastern Europe, mainly in occupied Poland, where the Germans built death camps. Confrontation with escapees from ghettos and camps or transporting them required a certain response. Some people, regardless of consequences, decided to help. Others, for various reasons, took no action. Still others turned in escapees and persons aiding them. There were even those, who, in certain circumstances, took part in the murder of Jews.

Such varying behaviour towards Jews on the part of people in countries occupied by Germany and its satellites was influenced by various factors, primarily attitudes towards Jews, stereotypes and prejudices, political views, religious convictions, material and family circumstances and, obviously, fear of repression.

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Righteous Diplomacy

The short film ‘Righteous Diplomacy’ is dedicated to Chiune Sugihara and other diplomats who played an important role in saving thousands of Jews during the Second World War. Acting individually, or in international clandestine networks, the diplomats defied the occupiers, and sometimes even their own governments, by allowing threatened Jews to flee to third-party countries. Such was the case of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice-consul in Kaunas, Lithuania. In the six weeks preceding the closure of the Japanese consulate, in September 1940, Sugihara supplied thousands of Jews with transit visas to Japan — despite the fact that his country was an ally of Nazi Germany. He might have saved up to 6,000 Jews, although the exact number is unknown. His activities were made public in 1968 by one of those whom he had saved. As a result, in 1984, he was recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem. He is the only Japanese person, and one of around forty diplomats, to hold this honorary title.