Two pillars are still in front of the house; sturdy reminders of the gates behind which thousands looked for an opportunity to escape the horrors of Kaunas in mid 1940. Two pillars on which numerous hands rested, waving to the Japanse consul to write the visa that would take them into safety.

Try to imagine the pressure upon the Japanese and Dutch consul. Japan had issued strict warnings against issuing visa and both consuls lived in Kaunas with their families. Each for themselves decided it was the right thing to do and the rest is history. It is impressive to realise the risks these two man took. Irrespective of their own safety. Of the safety of their family. As Yikuko Siguhara (the wife of Chiune) explained; “human life is the most precious thing”.


It also makes you wonder who today are the brave souls, who risk their lives for the safety of the refugees. Angela Merkel perhaps with her famous line: “Wir schaffen das”. Was her life in danger when she spoke these words? Actually, none come to mind as the risks faced in giving shelter to the refugees today are no comparison to the risks faced by the two consuls and their families in mid 1940. Perhaps that is the conclusion of this moment in time; we don’t face the same risks and therefore don’t act with the same righteousness as the two consuls in Kaunas. And that is saddening inhuman to realise… All the more inspiration to bring empathy back in our lives.



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