tv Escaping the Holocaust CSPAN July 10, 2021 12:16pm-1:01pm EDT
conspiracists and so have a good weekend i will see you then. while american history on tv for schedule updates to learn about what happened on the sand history watch videos and learn more about the people and events that shape the american story. find us at c-span history. >> watch tv now on sundays on cspan2. or find online anytime @booktv.org. ♪ ♪ >> next on c-span's american history tv, here a personal remembrance on escaping the holocaust from the civil rights attorney fred grable discusses work with rosa parks, martin luther king junior and others in a civil rights movement bread find more information on your
program guide at c-span.org/history. what good morning thank you for joining us for another episode in the museum's facebook live series. i am your host, historian and free burn. during each program we exploit aspect of holocaust history and its relevance to our world today. this month, as we commemorate asian americans and pacific islander heritage month we do so at a time while witnessing a disturbing rise in hate speech and violence against asian americans, individuals and communities. during our. of history, although japan was nazi ally in world war ii today will highly japanese diplomat who defied that to help european jews during the holocaust will also recognize the sacrifice made by many japanese-americans who despite being vilified in the u.s., joined the american military and help to free jews from
nazi persecution. i am honored to be joined by survive the holocaust because of the chinese diplomat chiune sugihara. leo is chairman emeritus of the cme group and the founder of financial futures. also the initiator of globex and he recently published a book of memoirs called man of the futures in which she has several chapters devoted to the heroism and gratitude he feels to chiune sugihara. i am delighted to participate in this very important program. >> and develop in today show we were fortunate enough to meet chiune sugihara son and we are excited to share the about his father's motivations and impact during the war. during today's show please send your questions for leo posting that many comments section will get to as many of
them alive as weekend or in the course of the program as we are able. so leo, let's begin at the beginning when you were just a young boy living in poland and the 1930s. we have this adorable picture of you, love those cheeks. tells where reborn, when and what was life like for you and your parents? >> i was born in poland it was the second largest city in poland. had a very large population of jews, over 100,000. life was very normal outside of the fact there were occasional that happen throughout poland. but folks survived. my parents were both beauty school teachers my father was a mathematician. he was also a >> leader is the only jew i think was elected to the city council.
that is very important because it served to give him a chance to escape, escape with his wife and me, my mother and child so to speak. here we are this is life normal in poland. winters were harsh and poland. that is me all bundled up with my parents. it was as normal as we can be. that was a very nice picture of my kindergarten class. you can see how they were very normal kids in any big city or small city all of us are gathered for the picture. >> now how is that life shattered customers how did it change after germany invaded poland in september of 1939 starting world war ii? >> it was an extreme radical
change of course. the essence was my father, being on the city council was called in. they gathered in the great synagogue because the city hall had been bombs out. and at that time, the mayor said to the council members it is likely they would all be hostages because they were prominence in the city. and he advised them they had to leave or should leave. he directed a truck to take them not with their families, they could not do that. they could do the 20 or so council members and give them
safety for a while. nobody knew where they were going. that was of course on purpose so we could not divulge it. it was a harrowing experience to say goodbye for my father in a night when bombs or falling and flashes of lights and constant machine gun. we ran to the darkness to an empty lot where everyone gathered with their family to say goodbye. in the lonely truck sitting there. i close my eyes under member that entire scene it was harrowing. they began the escape from my father i want to take a moment
to greet and welcome or international viewers, thank you for jew joining us from around the world and nicaragua, and brazil, and germany, interviewers watching from the university of the polish city, we are very happy to have you here. not leo i know from speak with you previously father escape to the city in lithuania you and your mother soon followed him. the three of you were among an estimated group of jews that found safe haven there. it was not long lives after eight months in lithuania, soviet forces invaded were seeing a photograph of those troops coming into town. how did this affect your father and his outspoken political views. >> will my father was a brilliant man is an
organization who are jewish socialists are very anti- communist anti- stalin. he was on a list for a list or could have been on a list, anyway he was not ever sure was the precursor to the kgb. and so once the russians came back as i just indicated he was not happy with the russians. and he called my mother on the telephone with our neighbor we did not have a telephone. and told her to grab me and some stuff and take the last train out before the borders
closed. said our goodbyes did not know whether that would be for a week, two weeks, or whatever. it turned out to be forever. my mother and i spent a very difficult train ride and it would stop off we would all come back on the train anyway. we made it, we then lived under with the rule for a little bit until the treaty between hitler, stalin was broken. and at that point poland was divided partly to the not these and partly to the
russians. and in the process russia overtook lithuania. so we found ourselves in russian rule. which again was not good for my father. he used to leave and often hid in the forest nearby. and would visit us from time to time. it was a very difficult life. i course was in school they put their children immediately in school. my parents were very much concerned that my education was lacking. obviously could not go to class. they did enroll me i was beginning to learn because i know polish very well. that lasted for almost a full year with a very difficult time for both my parents and
myself. >> let's take a moment to welcome our viewers were watching from across the u.s. good morning to you from chicago, leo's hometown, santa fe new mexico, lexington north carolina, phoenix, arizona and happy to see her friends the georgia commission on the holocaust good morning to all of you. now, when did your father encounter japanese diplomat? they have to bear my father never wanted to get back because he held the communists and such the idea that leaving was one of the main forces for him. and of course everyone
understood the nazi are only months away which is then the capitol of lithuania would possibly give visa to the jews who wanted to leave russian rule and the fear of not see occupation. and so he there are very few that managed to get out was the bravery as a diplomat to deny the orders of the government because they did not want him to enter the
transit visa. anyone understands they probably seen the movie casablanca. the only hope you have of escaping and certain death that it probably is anyway. and so the council general gave out over 2000 visas. those 2000 could represent a lot more because the visa that was presented we ended up getting out. the needed permission from the
russian foreign office to leave. when you apply for permission to leave russia at the time was considered dangerous because then you are saying he did not want to stay in the paradise that russia represented. [laughter] it was dangerous for us to apply. but faith would have it we did receive permission to be leave. and eventually to moscow and for moscow and russian port. that train ride through siberia's when i will never, never forget. it was over two weeks. >> leo i'm going to interrupt you for a few moments. some viewers may be interested
to know with japan who is would be willing to help people who were being targeted by an ally. we had an opportunity to speak with chiune sugihara youngest son but let's hear him explain his own words why his father acted to help so many thousands of people while others stood by and did nothing. [inaudible] so he extended he got permission from the government actually the soviet doherty. and did not expect he started issuing, for him.
[inaudible] it was 1000 lives. >> we have an audience comments, a woman named pam what race to save uncle also received visas from chiune sugihara and traveled the same route to freedom and safety. 2700 polish jews were admitted to japan between july 1940 july 1941 thanks to the actions of chiune sugihara. leo, after the sturdy on the trans- siberian train in the sea of japan could you please describe your arrival?
>> for over two weeks and ending up on a little boat embarked in the ruger which is an unbelievable experience because the people welcomed us and were extremely friendly offering flowers, and my mother whispered to me it was the first time in the last two years that she could breathe freely and let go of my hand, which she claimed she held onto for two years. it was a moment that of course you never forget. you do not forget the friendship that impact the people, the japanese people it happens to all of us who were desperate and know we were escaping from the horrors that were going on in europe.
it is something that you never, never forget. let orders his son, brother that you just saw his name was hiroki. i met the brother many years later in tokyo and he told me many stories about his father and he devoted his life to the memory of chiune sugihara, his father. i joined that effort i promised him i would do everything i could to memorialize the memory of this great hero. >> leo you ended up in the japanese city, correct? >> yes we ended up because it was the cheapest place to live and of course we did not have any money if it was not for the joint efforts of committee
to give us, help us it would have been impossible. it is a crayon box my parents again made me answer scruples we did not know how long we would be there give up these crayon box and the only evidence i have of going to the japanese school which i did. of course i've forgotten the language it was really experience than the one in russia because we were at least free for the moment and not in danger of death and whatever can happen to the jews in europe. lex we are very grateful to you at the museum for donating your wooden crayon box to us. we feel honored to the safe keepers of that artifact and
what it represents. in the organization you mentioned the nickname for the american jewish joint distribution committee and organization that still exist today jewish charitable nonprofit although we do not have images of you and your parents in japan at the time we do have some photographs of other jewish refugees they were able to survive thanks to the transit beaches issued by chiune sugihara including these photos, gathering for a meal and also many hundreds of refugees students students at higher learning institutions of jewish study. now we mentioned transit visas they meet in transit you're supposed to be passing through the issued these they're supposed to be for a ten day stay in japan. people found them there for a long period of time sometimes months or longer.
how long were you in your parents in japan and where did you go next? >> were there for over four months. course my parents applied to many countries everybody wanted to go to the u.s. was the first choice. they played everywhere you could because you know you would have to leave with japan. many ended up in australia or canada. but the bulk of them that ended up in shanghai had to live through the war that was coming in the very difficult period of time for them there. here he few just a couple hundred got permission to come to the united states. again we were on that list read the reason for that is the afl the american labor
union gave a list of endangered people to the state department and the u.s. that list contained 100 names of people who were in the labor movement such was my father. to our name was on that list. it is because of that that the state department advised the ambassador in japan, and tokyo to give us passage so we can go to the united states and enormously lucky and again will unbelievably brilliant and getting us safety as he did. >> once again good fortune found you and your parents pretty also want to give a special greeting to our mutual friend, washing and washington d.c. whose father and
grandparents also jewish socialist were some of your traveling companion. the question coming from the audience woman named kerri asked that your mom tie was going on the world and the situation did you have any evidence of what you escaped? >> we did. and of course they understood. but nobody really understood the holocaust except those people who were unfortunate that same society would go about actually killing an entire nation like the jews represented. not something that is easily understood. they knew the horror they could never understand the fullness of that atrocity.
as far as my family is concerned, when the germans they took 2000 and our neighborhood and under gunpoint put them in the great big synagogue. they locked the doors and windows hose down the walls with gasoline and then said to the entire building on fire that was what it looked like before his ruins, today this just some iron from the dome left. but 2000 jews including my entire family when they returned. >> horrific crime that included both of your grandmothers, aunts, cousins,.
>> everybody that we had which of course are dominant family parish that day. >> to give people a sense of proportion how lucky you were to encounter, chiune sugihara we mentioned over 27 polish jews who found safe haven in japan. there were close to 3000 living in poland at the outbreak of the war. of the jews of minor japan only 532 of them were able to sail from the u.s. i understand raphael coined the term genocide and championed its adoption is a case of international law, was on the ship with you and your parents, right customer expect >> i was a child i was eight years old. there on the ship that took us
he became a lawyer for the united nations. he coined the phrase genocide to describe what happened to the jews in europe. that is of course and the lexicon of the world today. >> we actually did a program just a few weeks ago will post that in the comments. we'll soon after you and your parents arrived in africa several months later they attacked the u.s. naval base in pearl harbor, hawaii. you're still a young boy, what awareness did you have of the impact on japanese americans at that time customer cut into square that with your experience just having been in
japan? >> it was very difficult to understand. i was nine years old, i knew quite a bit having experienced quite a bit i could not understand how the people who were seeing i realize there is a big difference the population and your government. i grew up as an american patriot is difficult to understand when and turn them. but life is full of mysteries. you mention when you intern them you are referring to an executive order that franklin
roosevelt signed in 1942 that led to the forcible relocation not only of japanese immigrants to the u.s. but also of american citizens of japanese descent. about 120,000 or forced from their homes to the so-called relocation centers there sold their businesses, homes were vilified and treated as enemy aliens. the countries turning against them, still more than 33000 japanese served in the military during world war ii to remind they were segregated at the time. japanese soldiers served in segregated units. the photo we just saw was the four to 42nd regimental combat team in france in 1944. we have an audience comments, vicky knows the motto of the
four to 42nd was a go for broke. they had a lot to prove it. among these soldiers was a young man named clarence, clarence was born in wyoming, we see a photo of him here, to japanese immigrant parents. his family had been forced into a relocation camp at heart mountain in wyoming pretty was among the members of the 552nd field artillery italian which was a segregated unit made up of second generation japanese americans first and second generation. it became one of the decorated units in american history. why am i telling you this? well, the two stories intersect. in may 1945 clearances unit was in germany part of liberating forces when they came across people who were lying along the roadside. prisoners who had collapsed after a death march from a
camp. clarence recalled these people looked like skin and bones. many were unconscious. among those who clarence encountered was a teenager we have a photo of sally after the war. likely at sally's family was lucky to get transit visas to japan. but unfortunately there lithuanian passwords were deemed invalid the soviets would not permit them to leave. although they had the chance of this life saving document instead they were imprisoned for a long period of time under horrible conditions as you can see here in the photo they were at mass shootings there were starvation's, there was disease. sadly it was deported first to the concentration camp and later to the concentration camp. and on that day and may 1945 ally was stunned to see asian looking men in american uniform. he later recalled thinking
they looked like chiune sugihara and his family. and we know that many years later, decades later, they were reunited here at a gathering that commemorated changed because of who they were not what they did or believed that because of racism and racist ideology. and they found each other that way. >> we have an audience question coming in. i think we will get to it now. it is about why it took so long for chiune sugihara to be recognized for what he did? jiminy thoughts on that, leo, actions you have taken his bravery and compassion have been recognized? >> it did take a long time actually.
years later i met the oldest of the sons that were in the embassy at the time. i had not met them there but i met them in tokyo we became very close friends. and he told me many things about the bravery of his father and have difficulty was for people to understand that his father was quite the hero he was. he had devoted his life to the memorialized his father's deed as did i help him my office in chicago became a mecca any family members as well as officials from tokyo to live there allies in the far east,
we get many, many visitors from japan i did my part as i promised chiune sugihara, he has passed on. i promised him to devote myself to the memory of that and of course i did. and continue to do i think in 1986 that labeled chiune sugihara acts as one of the righteous of the world and in doing that, chiune sugihara became very, very famous his great deed of humanity as did the united states holocaust museum memorialized him as well. many the work of many of us resulted in the world understanding what that great deed was he's kind of known as
the japanese schindler because of what schindler's action wasn't saving jews. i think chiune sugihara saved many more than schindler did. >> and think another part accurate everything you said has to do with the actual arc of chiune sugihara own life. he was initially transferred to other japanese consulates with other cities in europe he also did not provide would not reveal the list of people to him he had issued visas until february of 1941 i believe. so their identities could not be traced. after the war is innate soviet internment camp for 18 months. in fact he did not realize that anyone had survived with help of his transit visas until the late 1960s. so the story was not necessarily even completely clear to chiune sugihara in the immediate aftermath the
woman named debbie said since japan was in nancy german ally but did they think of that helping jews? did not offer these transit visas but did anyway because of his conscience. leo could you talk a little bit about the more recent japanese government and your involvement with them and their recognition of him? >> in time everyone recognizes heroism of chiune sugihara. i took it upon myself whatever i could so did many other survivors i was not alone and that this is a picture of the prime minister of japan i'm
standing next to her is marsha bernstein who also survived with the transit visa the prime minister came to pay respect at the holocaust museum and light a candle in memory of chiune sugihara. the name of chiune sugihara eventually in japan was understood by everybody to be extraordinary hero who defied government orders her view of humanity was what was happening the danger that we all had was wrong wrong is to mild he took it upon himself to do it he thought was right these 2000 or so people once
the not these captured the jews there were annihilated almost in its entirety. >> of course we can never know with any precision exactly how many lives have made possible because of the bravery because of the actions of chiune sugihara is not with the people who were the direct beneficiary but all of their descendents, leo, you your self have been very fortunate to have three children, five grandchildren and multiply that by thousands and thousands of people and their families. would also like to give a special greeting to chiune sugihara and his family who are actually watching today. she was his youngest son we are so grateful to you and sharing his father's story over the year, he has met
hundreds of holocaust survivors and their descendents who are alive only thanks to the deeds of his father paid let's hear him describe the impact meeting these survivors have had on him. [inaudible] they say they have family i can imagine how many each person i see i am so happy this life was saved, it is incredible. >> it is absolutely incredible. we have many, many audience comments and will share some these comments with you later, leo and some people noting that chiune sugihara saved family members directly or thank him for his bravery.
i have heard the story before but it is wonderful to hear firsthand from leo. and i agree you are very, very lucky. leo, enclosing on to ask a question really about today and how the story affects us today. because we are witnessing rising discrimination, violent vilification's against asian americans here in the u.s. just earlier this week i was in new york city, i was in chinatown and is disturbed to see there were civilian groups patrolling to protect against racist attacks but maybe really sad that was necessary. what lessons can we apply with this history and how could it help us to prevent that attitude from continuing to escalate? >> it's difficult to erase. and it continues to be evidence throughout the world. the one thing that chiune sugihara taught the world one
man can make a difference. set each of us can make that difference like he did. or in similar fashion in any way to stand up against racism and bigotry. try to erase it and stamp it out wherever it occurs. it's very serious and difficult who suffer this racism in the case of the asians in certain cases of jews with anti-semitism, still prevalent throughout the world. these are the kind of things that chiune sugihara stands out above everybody in showing how one individual could stand up to racism and do something about it. in his case he saved thousands and today hundreds of thousands of lives as a result
of standing up. every person in the world can do something about it. and he showed us how. he is a great humanitarian. >> thank you so much leo for joining us today. not only to share your story of survival, but to share and i hope to make contagious your commitment to preserving a shining a light on this legacy. it really means a lot. thank you. : : :
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