Most Jewish genealogists know the story of Chiune Sugihara, known as the Japanese Schindler. Sugihara issued over 2,000 Japanese transit visas that enabled many Jews to escape war torn Europe in the summer of 1940. But there is so much more to the story. There were many people – Europeans, Americans, Japanese – who helped to save these people. We will identify some of them and talk about their exploits. We will trace one Polish Jewish woman’s journey from Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Poland to Santa Monica, California using her Sugihara transit visa to ultimately obtain US citizenship. Her journey started in Poland and included stops in Lithuania; Moscow and Vladivostok, Russia; Tsuruga and Kobe Japan; Shanghai, China; Windsor, Canada; and Chicago and Los Angeles over 15 years mostly as a Stateless person. We will document her journey using genealogical methods and records.
Mark Halpern was an International Businessman who lived in Japan. Later, while on business in Poland, he became interested in his roots. Now retired, Mark works with JRI–Poland, JewishGen, IAJGS, and Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGASGP) helping others research their roots. Mark serves on the Board and Executive Group of JRI-Poland, is the founder of Bialystok Area Jewish Genealogy Group, is an Advisory Board of Gesher Galicia, and is past President of JGASGP. Mark chaired the program committees for the 2009 and 2013 Conferences and served as advance coordinator for the 2018 Warsaw Conference. Mark was honored in 2018 with the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mark’s interest in Sugihara and the refugees goes back to the 2013 IAJGS Conference in Boston, where he met a Japanese gentleman. The following article explains Mark’s interest. https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/197643/from-japan-with-love.