Heroes workshop: Rethinking Sugihara’s story as part of global heritage and memory


English-Japanese simultaneous interpretation

3 Sun. (National holiday) 11:30 - 12:15
Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Tokyo Agnelli Hall

An interactive discussion, based on author’s recent book The Good, the Bad, and the Miserable about Chiune Sugihara. By issuing in Lithuania “visas for life” in 1940 to war refugees, mainly of Jewish origin, Sugihara saved over 6000 human lives.

Sugihara’s transit visas to Japan and as result of it – thousands saved lives are part of the global memory. This is crucial to understand. One of the goals of this book – reintroduce some characters of this thrilling drama who have been unfairly forgotten. Sugihara’s story often has to do with the phenomenon of the desert. After years of use, clichés become so comfortable and conventional that they no longer raise any questions and are accepted as the true definition of the events. Essentially, this was the reason why this whole story became like others, just as sandy and grey. However, this perception is wrong. It was a phenomenal journey of thousands of fates, encompassing all human emotions and leading from death and slavery to life and a human tomorrow. Readers of this book must constantly keep in mind that the events took place in the Republic of Lithuania. Without it, the space in which everything happened is lost. Every story has its characters, its time, and its place. Without these three ingredients all that remains is an illusion. Change any one of them, and the entire plot changes: the reasons, the motives, the consequences. Sugihara spent one year in Lithuania, he eye-witnessed refugee situation from the very first days. History has always needed heroes. This is probably a natural need of human existence. This book is not seeking to unseat any heroes. Rather the opposite – it will present to its readers many new or unfairly forgotten heroes. Like then, our societies and individuals have the choice: help and/or abuse, shelter and/or refuse, etc. Everything depends on us. Hopefully, we will know to learn from the past and find in ourselves the desire to know, learn, and avoid repeating mistakes. For the mistakes we make today can lead to cataclysms tomorrow and take hundreds of millions of lives the day after that. Let us sweep away the sand, put on protective goggles if need be, and examine the past. Our heroes who lived and worked then are worth it. The rest depends only on our own readiness to accept, to change and be changed.


Author, who is working on the famous Chiune Sugihara and war refugee story. He has spent 15 years collecting historical data on this topic in a Lithuania, Poland and Japan. As professional historian, S. Strelcovas is author of books and numerous articles on this issue. His recent book “The Good, the Bad, and the Miserable”, published in Lithuania, is being translated into Japanese and will be published in Japan at the beginning of 2020.

Presently, S. Strelcovas is working on a historical novel, based on real facts and figures of the first year of World War II in Lithuania, including Ch. Sugihara and refugees.

Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Tokyo

2-1-30 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, Hanzomon Line / Toei-Shinjuku Line "Kudanshita" station, Exit 2 (10 minutes)