Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Book Talk. Sugihara Chiune and the Soviet Union: New Documents, New Perspectives by Coeditor David Wolff
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Location Note

1219 International Affairs Building
420 W 118th Street, 12th floor

This is a hybrid (in-person/virtual) event. Registration required for attendance. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community. To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events. Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. All other attendees may participate virtually on Zoom or YouTube.

Please join the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center at Hokkaido University, Japan, for a discussion with David Wolff, coeditor of Sugihara Chiune and the Soviet Union: New Documents, New Perspectives. Moderated by Valentina Izmirlieva, Director of the Harriman Institute.

In 1940 with Europe already at war, Japanese diplomat-spy Sugihara Chiune (often called the “Japanese Schindler”) ignored direct orders from Foreign Minister Matsuoka and issued over 2000 Japanese transit visas to Jews stranded in Lithuania after the invasion of Poland. But these visas would have been worthless without Soviet transit visas to cross from Kaunas/Kovno to Vladivostok. Why did Stalin approve this transit, supervised by Molotov, Mikoyan and Beria? How did nearly 4000 Jews travel on 2000 visas? Documents from Soviet and Japanese archives collected, edited and published by Japan’s Slavic-Eurasian Research Center and the Holocaust Research Center in Moscow provide answers to these questions and more. Sugihara remains the only Japanese citizen designated a Righteous among the Gentiles by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.


David Wolff is a Professor of Eurasian History at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center at Hokkaido University, Japan. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute.






Event Video