Japanese Rescuer Sugihara Remembered in Vilnius


From October 27-31 in Vilnius, Lithuania, TOLI conducted an intensive seminar for teachers in a country where over 240,000 Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Joining with local partners, the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, and the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, TOLI organized a five-day program for some 30 teachers, many of whom had never taught the Holocaust or its lessons.

Lithuania has been marked with controversy over honoring anti-Russian resistance leaders who had previously collaborated with Nazis in the persecution and killing of its Jewish population.  The issue was raised by the Israeli ambassador at the opening ceremony, who described the country’s Holocaust history as “an open wound” and called upon Lithuanian leaders to “teach their history honestly.”


A highlight of the program was the participation of Nobuki Sugihara, son of the heroic Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara who, during World War II, issued thousands of visas to desperate Jews who, as a result, were saved from the Holocaust. 

Also participating in the seminar was Assia Raberman, Holocaust survivor from Israel who has been an inspiring speaker at TOLI seminars.  Vadim Altskan, from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, spoke about the Holocaust in the Baltic countries. In the TOLI delegation were Board members David Field, Chairman, Mark Berez, President, Ellen Field, Carole Berez, Arthur Berger, and Harry Wall.  Eyal Raviv from Israel, whose family has been a generous supporter of TOLI, and Toshimi Janiga, educator from Florida, also took part in the seminar. Oana Nestian-Sandu, TOLI International Program Director, coordinated the program and led training sessions for the teachers.

The Lithuanian teachers visited the former Jewish quarter, once the hub of religious and cultural activities and known as “The Jerusalem of the North.”  They also visited the Paneriai Forest, where they honored some 70,000 Jews who were brutally murdered by Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators.  Teachers also participated in a simulated Shabbat dinner for all the participants.

Teachers from around Ukraine convened in Vilnius for the TOLI seminar



Arthur Berger, right, TOLI board member interviewing Nobuki Sugihara, the son of the Japanese diplomat who issued visas to Lithuanian Jews, saving thousands of lives from the Holocaust.

Mark Berez, President of TOLI, speaking at the opening of the Holocaust educators’ seminar in Vilnius, Lithuania Oct. 27. Next to him are Ambassdor of Israel Yosef Levy, right, and Mr. Marcus Michelli, Charge’, US Embassy, Lithuania

5. At the Holocaust Memorial in Pomieri Forest, site of the massacre of 70, 000 Jews.


For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact info@tolinstitute.org

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