Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story

by Ken Mochizuki and Dom Lee

A remarkable account of personal bravery and moral courage involves the true story... read more

A remarkable account of personal bravery and moral courage involves the true story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Kaunas, Lithuania. One day in 1940, hundreds of Jewish refugees from Poland camped outside the building containing Sugihara's office and his family's residence. The refugees had acted on the rumor that Mr. Sugihara could issue visas providing passage through the Soviet Union to Japan. As remembered by the diplomat's son in whose five-year-old voice Mochizuki's text is written, the desperate numbers and pleas grew daily. Sugihara decided he couldn't wait any longer for official permission from the Japanese government. "I have to do something. I may have to disobey my government, but if I don't, I will be disobeying God." He began issuing 300 hand-written visas a day. Until the minute he left Lithuania after being reassigned, Sugihara wrote visas. Later the family was imprisoned in a Soviet internment camp. After returning to Japan, Sugihara was asked to resign his post. Lee's emotionally charged illustrations are reminiscent of sepia images from early films; they were created by applying encaustic beeswax on paper, then scratching out images and adding oil paint and colored pencil. (Ages 7-11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1997

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