House-Museum of Chiune Sugihara in Kaunas


The history of Kaunas during the harsh times of the Second World War is unimaginable without Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara (1900 – 1986). In the summer of 1940, he gave away so-called Life visas, which helped thousands of people to escape from war-zone Europe. For this heroic work, he was named the Righteous among the nations in 1985. Today in Kaunas we can find a museum dedicated to Chiune Sugihara in a previous building of Japanese consulate.

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The first diplomatic relations between Japan and Lithuania were established only at the dawn of the Second World War. Japan sought to monitor the tensions between USSR and Germany, so in 1939 it sent it`s the first consul to Lithuania – Chiune Sugihara (1900–1986). Sugihara used his exceptional diplomatic position to give away visas for war refugees. The diplomat did not select whom to help based on their ethnicity – he assisted everyone who asked, but one-third of the people he saved were Polish Jews.

These activities of Sugihara were not based on a well pre-thought rescue plan.  Everything started on one morning of the summer of 1940 when Sugihara saw a crowd of people gathered next to the gates of the Japanese consulate.  He made a personal choice not to ignore these cries for help and that is why about 6000 people were saved from Nazi persecution.


At the moment You can visit Chiune Sugihara house-museum in Kaunas (Vaižgantas str. 30), where the famous diplomat lived and worked in 1939-1940. This museums both collects and showcases documents related to Lithuanian Jewish history and the history of Sugihara himself. The memory of diplomat and Righteous among the nations is also preserved next to the popular building of the “Metropolis” hotel in Kaunas because exactly from this place he continued to give away Life visas in September of 1940.


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