When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Jewish refugees poured into Lithuania. A large group went to the Japanese Consulate, where they found a sympathetic diplomat named Chiune Sugihara.
Against his governments orders, Sugihara issued exit visas for an estimated 6,000 Jews, writing them by hand almost nonstop for a month until the Soviets closed the embassy. His “reward” was eighteen months in a Soviet prison camp with his family after the war, and dismissal from his post when he returned to Japan. For years he lived in obscurity, feeling disgraced. But in 1985, Sugihara was honored by the Israeli government for his heroic efforts.