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Sugihara
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During the Nazi holocaust in Europe there was a Japanese Schindler, and his name was Sempo Sugihara. I heard about him through my friend Ben Manski, who is alive today because of this man and his wife Yukiko.
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david rovics
david rovics all rights reserved 2010
Ten New Songs
Sat Jul 10, 2010
Acoustic : Folk
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» highest in charts:   # 84   (150,433 songs currently listed in Acoustic)
» highest in sub-genre:   # 6   (13,436 songs currently listed in Acoustic > Folk)
About the song
There are persistent myths about Japan being a basically homogeneous society made up of obedient drones. It's not, and never has been a€“ in fact a serious reading of Japanese history is full of dissent of all kinds, going back many centuries. During the Nazi holocaust in Europe there was a Japanese Schindler, and his name was Sempo Sugihara. I heard about him through my friend Ben Manski, who is alive today because of this man and his wife Yukiko. Ben and his grandfather, Samuil, are what some call Sugihara Survivors.
Lyrics
Sugihara

He was raised in Gifu on the islands of Japan
He was sent off to Manchuria, that's how this tale began
For his next assignment in the diplomatic corps
Was far-off Lithuania and the European war
My grandfather was from Krakow a€“ the Nazis came, he fled
He took his family to Vilnius so they might not end up dead
But the Panzers were advancing and he knew they had to go
But he had to have a visa and all the embassies said no

There was only one final possibility
The last consulate left open, the Third Reich's Asian ally
There in Lithuania there was no time to lose
They came asking for a visa, thousands of Polish Jews
The diplomat called Tokyo, a€œcan I grant them this reprieve?a€쳌
Three times he got his answer, a€œtell them all to leavea€쳌
He looked into their eyes, talked to his family
He and his wife decided we must set these people free

Although I never met him, when all is said and done
I am Sugihara's son

Disobeying orders that they knew to be wrong
Sempo and Yukiko started writing all day long
A month's worth of visas in every twenty-hour day
Sempo and Yukiko could turn no refugee away
Word came from the empire, it's time to turn it in
You're closing down your consulate and moving to Berlin
They knew they did the right thing, of this they had no doubt
They threw visas through the window as their train pulled out

(Chorus)

My grandfather crossed Siberia for five times the normal cost
Fearing for the future with every minute lost
He got the ferry to Kobe then to Occupied Shanghai
There he spent the war years while back home his people died
Sugihara-san did not seek any praise from anyone
When he died the paper said his neighbors knew not what he'd done
But there are forty thousand people living lives today
Without Sempo Sugihara I would not be here now to say

(Chorus)